Monday, November 21, 2016

Vice President's Report , 15 October 2016

Waitemata Branch of Unite Union
Vice President's Report    15 October 2016                 By Janet Robin

In  2016 we started meeting every 2 months instead of every month.
We began meeting at the  New Lynn Community Centre and then shifted to the New Lynn MacDonalds meeting room.

A major focus of this year's activities has been the housing crisis, and secondly, suporting the campaign to stop sanctioning single mothers who don't name the fathers of their children.  We also made efforts to liase with  other community groups and with  Unite Headquarters.
People's desperate poverty continues unabated, with the  $25 increase in Sole Parent Support, being way too little , too late.

The most obvious  sign of a failing system has been the housing crisis, which is now so bad that the Government can no longer deny it, and has been caught on the back foot, with no solutions in sight.
Despite the desperate shortage of affordable housing, the Government  continues to sell off  our publically owned  state houses  into private hands.. Only a fraction of them end up as "social housing" which is a privately owned rental accommodation with government subsidies to be rented out  more cheaply than at market rates.

Unite Waitemata members have continued to be  members of  West Auckland SHAN (the West Auckland branch of the State Housing Action Network ) in 2016, and to sometimes host West Auckland SHAN meetings

In  13 February and on 9 April I  represented Unite Waitemata, and West Auckland SHAN at  SHAN planning meetings for a  New Zealand Housing Summit.
The Housing Summit was held on the 16th April.  I attended this summit along with several other members of our branch .

In June,  I  organised a protest outside a public meeting, on 13 June, held  by the National Party in Blockhouse Bay, where the speakers were Paula Bennett, Minister for Social Housing,  Nick Smith, the Minister of Housing.
This was a well attended and lively protest, with a large contingent from the Tamaki Housing group, amongst others.

Later in the year our members attended other housing protests, such as  a symbolic occupation outside some empty state houses in  Glen Innes, and I attended   a  protest at public  event about a house which had been built in a programme called "The Block" .
n August, the Tauranga branch of SHAN formed a separate group, an incorporated Society entitled SHA Inc, in order to take the government to court  for selling state housing in Tauranga. Whilst we expressed our support, we didn't join the new incorporated society.

Government Legislation
The government has not introduced  major new legislation  this year that directly attacks benefits,  but  it has attacked beneficiaries indirectly.

The Social Security Rewrite Bill  reinforced or even worsened  some of its earlier oppressive legislation, including  rewriting Section 70 which punishes women for not naming the fathers of their children. We took part in the  campaign  to the "Stop the Sanctions" against these women. 

I wrote   a submission , which you can read  about on our blog,, dated  21st June 2016, here:
I gave an oral presentation of the  submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee.   On 15 September Keith and  I  attended the AAAP's official  launch of their campaign to "Stop the Sanctions"; which appears to be getting widespread support amongst MP's of several political parties.  This campaign was supported by several groups including the Auckland Women's Centre and the Child Poverty Action Group. 

The Minstry for Vulnerable Children
The new MInister for Social Welfare, Anne Tolley, has  introduced legislation that reforms CYF.  It opens the way for more social work to be done by  private agencies , and makes it easier for Māori and other children in  care, to be fostered by families that are  not of the same  extended whanau , hapu, or iwi.  Many Māori are very concerned about this, and see it as a colonial attack upon their people. The United Nations has criticised the English name of Anne Tolley's new ministry,  "The Ministry for Vulnerable Children" as stigmatising the children it focuses on.

Media Work
I continue to do media work, including  maintaining our two facebook pages. the Unite Waitemata  Like  page, and the Waitemata Unite group page, and  helping to take care of the SHAN facebook page.

Solidarity with other groups
This year  some of our members, together with our Unite Waitemata Banner;  have attended protests in support of the Syrian revolution,  and against the aerial bombing of civilians.
We have maintained a co-operative relationship with the Combined Beneficiaries Union, with some of us attending their meetings, and  with Thomas  Harvey, from the CBU attending our June meeting.  We continue to support  Auckland Action Against Poverty , and other groups campaigning against poverty. In April I assisted at the  AAAP Impact, held at Mangere WINZ.  And of course we support SHAN, the Tamaki Housing Group, and other housing activist groups.

Relationship with Unite Headquarters
The visit of Mike Treen, Unite director,  to our August meeting, at the invitation of our President, Christina Faumuina,  was a positive step, and hopefully more communication and co-operation may develop  between our branch and Unite HQ.  


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