A job scheme by any other name would be sweet

There seems to have been a lot of confusion lately around the whole ‘working for the dole’ proposal Shane Jones announced over the weekend. Even the media reported unions as variously supporting, opposing, and scratching their heads– which might have something to do with the fact what was being proposed is neither well defined, nor, probably, ‘work for the dole’



Image available under creative commons licence from www.flickr.com/photos/usfsregion5/  licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ 
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We can only agree it's unfair


I am a former psychiatric hospital security officer. I left that job after two years as the conditions of the work became too stressful and resulted in my spending over a year as an outpatient at the same institution I had previously been working at.

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We can choose to be a place where everyone can thrive


To the rest of the world, New Zealand looks like a utopia right now. COVID-19 free, and lead by a fast-moving, confident, competent Prime Minister. We can be rightly proud of leading the way on public health in our pandemic response. It feels good, right? 

But what about our track record in another important area of health - crushing poverty?

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Don't be too polite, and show a little fight


(Content warning: This post and links discusses sexual violence and harassment.)

Don’t be too polite, and show a little fight. So says the clarion call in one of the top songs from trade union women’s group Choir Choir Pants On Fire.

It’s a good reminder of the fact that lasting social change doesn’t generally happen when we ask politely. Or as a poster on my wall says, ‘never in history did the rich and powerful give up their privileges voluntarily.’

Social change is a dynamic process, it involves pushing and pulling, and a contest. A metaphor I heard the other week on a campaigning podcast is apt: pressure should be painful, and if not, it’s [just] a massage.

I was reflecting a lot over the summer about what it will take for more men to be willing to stand up and be counted in challenging a system of patriarchy. A system which has awful consequences for women and gender minorities, and ultimately is bad for men as well , in terms of the harm from the rigid, and at times toxic, masculine roles it can deliver.

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Missing in action - how men can stop sexual violence at work


I was in a conversation yesterday about sexual harassment of women in trades - and heard a story which I bet wasn’t a one-off.

The story was about an apprentice who each day would eat lunch in her car, rather than in the lunch room with everyone else.

Why? Because there was sexually explicit and objectifying pictures of women hung on the wall.  

And her colleagues weren’t planning on doing anything about this. 

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The urgency of a just transition in the face of climate change

New Zealand is about to embark on a transition to a low carbon economy and future.  It’s one of the most important transitions we will make, and it has to be done well. Our lives literally depend on it.

For people who work for a living, and the unpaid work that supports this, change and transition are permanent features of employment, nationally and internationally.

But big transitions in work can make people anxious. New Zealand hasn’t done them well before.

Photo credit: Takver on Flikr under Creative Commons 2.0. The climate march in Bonn before COP23 for climate justice. 

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Tax is a women's issue

tax-spreasheet.jpgLast Friday I was on our 6 year old’s school trip as parent help. It was a terrific day, even if it was exhausting for kids and adults as we marched up and down Wellington’s Mount Victoria.

Teacher aides from the school came along with us teachers and parents too. Just like at school, they looked out for kids with extra learning and behavioural needs. They were the eyes, ears, brains and hands to make sure every kid on that trip was supported and having fun.

Inclusive education is a big focus of our local school and I’m very proud the school makes as much funding available as possible for support staff like teacher aides. The ‘operations grant’ – money from the Government – simply isn’t enough to resource all the kids’ needs without lots of fundraising. Families make the effort because teacher aides, administrators, librarians, technicians, kaiārahi and many others are hugely important for our kids. Schools can’t function without them.

You can imagine how gutted I was when I heard on the radio that nearly half of primary and intermediate schools were expecting to cut teacher aide hours this year in order to make ends meet.

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The TPP labour rules - not a gold standard

The following speech was delivered to a public meeting about the CPTPPA on Wednesday 14 February at the Wesley Church on Taranaki Street in Wellington. 

Last week Trade Minister, David Parker, told APEC’s Business Advisory Group that:

 “the new government is … looking for “gold standard” deals, with environmental and labour protections, such as we have in CPTPP, alongside lower tariffs and addressing non-tariff barriers.”

In my time tonight, I want to do three things:

* first, to debunk this myth of the TPP as a “gold standard” treaty for workers’ rights;

* second, to add to warnings about ISDS, in this case about its risks to progressive labour law reform;

* and third, to reflect on priorities for engaging with the new government on these issues in trade and investment treaties


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No informed consent from nurses for CPTPP

If you’ve been to hospital recently, say for an operation, you’ll know about the form you are always given to sign before any serious procedure can happen. It informs you about the procedure, why the doctor recommends it and the expected benefits, risks and side effects. Ultimately, it’s your choice to decide what is done to you.


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Trees, trains and trade unions - a future we can believe in

The ex-Prime Minister Bill English just said the new Government’s policy agenda is driven by "a nostalgic belief in trees, trains and trade unions”, which is a great insight into why we have inherited so many deep-rooted problems from the last Government. Jacinda has led her team with the understanding that good jobs, public services and a green environment are an important part of New Zealand’s history. They’re also exactly what the next generation wants as well. Young people need the security of a warm house and healthy meals, a good job, building savings and spending time with people they love in beautiful places.

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