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The sad joke of Labour Day

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The sad joke of Labour Day
MARTYN 'BOMBER' BRADBURY

Labour Day became a national holiday in New Zealand in 1899. It was to commemorate and celebrate the rise of worker powers and how the earliest Pakeha settlers coming to New Zealand fought to create a fair balance of power between the boss and the worker.

Samuel Duncan Parnell came to New Zealand on the ship Duke of Roxburgh in 1839. He was a carpenter who was deeply impacted by the arguments of the day that people should be allowed 8 hours sleep, 8 hours to live their lives and 8 hours to the boss to work. He refused to join his Union in England because they refused to make an 8 hour working day a priority.

Once in New Zealand, Parnell refused to work for anyone who wouldn't accept his 8 hour working rule and actively went and met new workers coming off the ships arriving in NZ to tell them of the 8 hour working culture he was trying to create.

The bosses tried to resist and tried to force workers to work later, but it became standard working hours in NZ after workers began simply walking off the job if a boss tried to force longer hours.

Fast forward to the NZ working environment of today and we see that Parnell would weep at how workers have been beaten into neo-feudalism. Kiwi workers work an average of 43.5hours a week with no penal rates. Many workers are over worked and many others are under worked. Many have a precarious working arrangement and have zero job security while health and safety in this country remains one of the worst in the developed would.

There have already been almost 20 work deaths this year and the shadow of the Pike River Mine disaster hangs over industrial relations.

The Right wings war on Unions in NZ have successfully crushed most into irrelevance and this has happened while worker rights and safety has gone backwards.

When we 'celebrated' Labour Day weekend this week, there really wasn't a hell of a lot to praise.

Samuel Duncan Parnell would be ashamed of how we've allowed the bosses to rule with such impunity.

If the new Government is to do anything to fix this current woeful situation, it should be to strengthen the Unions with real teeth.

Then we'd have something to really rejoice on Labour Day..

 

Martyn Bradbury

Editor - TheDailyBlog.co.nz

twitter.com/CitizenBomber

Copyright © 2017, UMA Broadcasting Ltd: www.waateanews.com


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