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Trade unionists lead Alliance List


Trade unionists lead Alliance List

Trade unionists dominate the Alliance Party List for this year’s General Election.

The Party’s two co-leaders and number one and two on the Alliance List are Party President and Auckland union organiser Jill Ovens, who is contesting the Manukau East seat, and local government union organiser Paul Piesse, from Christchurch.

Ms Ovens, who represents low-paid workers in her union work as a senior organiser for the Service and Food Workers Union, says it is time working people had a share in the much heralded economic prosperity.

“Economists talk about increases in productivity, but these have come on the backs of workers. The constant restructuring of the past 21 years has meant only that workers have to work harder and to work longer hours to make ends meet.”

She says unemployment may have dropped, but far too many jobs are part-time or casual, and the gap between rich and poor has widened significantly.

Mr Piesse was a public servant for 10 years and has spent the rest of his working life as a union organiser. He was secretary of the Stores/Packers Union which amalgamated into the National Distribution Union where he stayed another three years before going to work for the Southern Local Government Union 14 years ago.

He says it is time to put the “public” back into the public service.

“The free market has failed the vast majority of New Zealanders. The provision of services such as electricity, water, rail, buses and shipping, health and education should not be subject to market mechanisms. The basic economic infrastructure must be collectively owned and democratically controlled to act in the interests of all people, as opposed to corporate interests.”

Alliance General Secretary Andrew McKenzie, is third on the List. He is a Christchurch barrister who specialises in employment law, predominantly on behalf of unions and employees.

Mr McKenzie was a candidate for “Health Cuts Hurt”, a community ticket that contested the District Health Board elections in Christchurch in 2004. He is standing for the Alliance in Banks Peninsula in the 2005 General Election.

Julie Fairey, an Auckland field officer for the primary teachers’ union, NZEI, is fourth on the List. She was a student activist at Auckland University Students Association, where she was the campaign co-ordinator, welfare officer and national affairs officer.

Ms Fairey is the Alliance Council secretary and a member of the Alliance Secretariat. She is a List-only candidate in 2005.

Next on the List is Kane O’Connell, who grew up on the South Island’s West Coast amidst struggles against mass unemployment, benefit cuts, income disparity and user pays in the 1980s and 1990s. He says it was only natural that he joined the Alliance at 17.

Mr O’Connell, a Wellington-based research officer with the New Zealand University Students’ Association, became involved in the opposition to student fees, means-tested allowances and student debt as a member of the Christchurch College of Education Students’ Association executive. He is standing for the Alliance in 2005 in the Wellington Central electorate.

Len Richards, sixth on the List, taught at South Auckland's Nga Tapuwae College for 18 years and was active in the PPTA (Post Primary Teachers Association). During these years, he used to sell political newspapers outside the Otahuhu Railway Workshops and through his connection with the railway workers, he became interested in how they organised themselves.

“The struggle of workers for control over their lives begins in their workplace. My research has shown that the workers exercised a large amount of control, both informally and through their unions, despite their managers.”

He says this highlights the need for workplaces to be organised along democratic lines. Mr Richards is the Alliance candidate for the South Auckland seat of Mangere.

Before his arrival in New Zealand in1963, Jim Flynn, number 7 on the List, was active in the US Socialist Party and the Black protest movement in the American South at the time of Martin Luther King.

The Otago University Professor Emeritus became active in the anti-nuclear movement and advised Norman Kirk on foreign policy. Mr Flynn was a founding member of the New Labour Party and the Alliance, and he advises the Alliance on designing a fair and progressive income tax as well as policies to restore excellence to the New Zealand university system.

His academic research concerns how to promote social justice. He is author of five books, most recently "How to Defend Humane Ideals", which has been praised for its treatment of problems of class and race.

Eighth on the List is Victor Billot, who first became involved in politics as a founding member of the New Labour Party in 1989 as a teenager. He has worked on every electoral campaign since that time for the Party and has been an active member with a number of branches. He is standing for the Alliance in 2005 in Dunedin North.

Mr Billot is currently employed as the communications manager for the Maritime Union of New Zealand, based in Dunedin. Previous jobs have included Waterfront Workers' Union campaign organiser and National Distribution Union publicity officer. He is also co-director of a Dunedin publicity agency managed by his partner, working on high profile local events.

Alliance Otaki candidate Margaret Jeune is next on the List. She is an early childhood educator and part-time secretary for the Zero Waste Focus Group (Horowhenua District Council).

Ms Jeune is a solo parent of two teenage sons and an adult daughter. She is the acting president of the Levin branch of the National Council of Women, the acting chairperson of the Horowhenua Unemployed and Beneficiaries Centre, and a weekend receptionist at the Horowhenua SPCA. She has also served on the Waiopehu College Board of Trustees and on the Otaki Community Board.

Bob van Ruyssevelt, of West Auckland, has been self-employed as a cleaning contractor, bread vendor, aluminium door/window installer and courier. He is now a truck driver.

Mr van Ruyssevelt was convenor of the British organisation campaigning for the withdrawal of British troops in Ireland, and was a founder member of the Auckland Vietnam Society. He was also a founder member of the H Block/Armagh Committee which supported the Irish Republican Movement from NZ. He is a member of Amnesty International.

He was a founding member of the NLP and stood for both the NLP and the Alliance several times. In 2005 he is standing for the Alliance in the Te Atatu seat.

Others on the Alliance List include…

Tom Dowie, Christchurch

Chris Ford, Dunedin

Quentin Findlay, Christchurch

Kelly Buchanan, Wellington

Joe Hendren, Christchurch

Gail Marmont, Dunedin

Paul Protheroe, Auckland

Greg Kleis, Christchurch

Sandra Ethell, Auckland

Colin Pounder, Christchurch

Bob Harrison, Dunedin

Peta Knibb, Christchurch

Marvin Hubbard, Dunedin

Francie Haslemore, Christchurch

Norman MacRitchie, Dunedin

Eric Gamble, Christchurch

Lynda Boyd, Christchurch

Party president Jill Ovens says several potential candidates have expressed an interest in going on the Alliance List since nominations closed. Anyone who is interested should contact her directly and should also check out the Alliance website http://www.alliance.org.nzfor more information about the Party.


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