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Beehive Chat - Standing up for the Greater Good

Beehive Chat - Standing up for the Greater Good

Tariana Turia, MP for Te Tai Hauauru and Co-leader Maori Party

Monday 21 November 2011

The American comedian Groucho Marx once said, ‘those are my principles and if you don’t like them…..well I have others’.

Election campaigns always remind me of those words – as politicians try to find the right words to inspire the public to the polls.

For the Maori Party our principles are universal and timeless; they are the foundation of our party; they are the mandate for our policy; and for our behaviour. In short, they encourage us to act in ways which will bring out the best in our people; to fight for our kaupapa and to live by them.

It is from kaupapa that we have established Whanau Ora; that we want te reo Maori to be compulsorily available in all schools; that we are encouraging all Maori organisations to give two of our rangatahi a job; that we want whanau carers to be resourced to support whanau members to stay in their own homes, especially older and disabled persons.

It’s important to know the value system that political parties on offer operate by - whether it be green; union-based; class-structured. Are they parties of protest or parties of vision? What's the plan? How will your whanau benefit? Can the promises be kept?

Our basic belief is you don’t create policies because they are popular; or because they are cheap; you make them because they are right. It's all about principle.

And so, last Friday morning when I went to Marton and met up with over 100 locked out workers from the CMP Rangitikei sheep processing plant I was blown away by the workers’ determination; their courage; and their steadfast belief that what they were doing was not only inevitable, it was right. This was a political action based on principle; a collective action taken for the greater good.

The workers were faced with ANZCO CMP seeking to impose pay cuts of up to 20% on members of NZ Meat Workers Union along with shift changes and cuts in allowances.

The workers – most of them Maori – knew that if they accepted such drastic changes in conditions it would have dire consequences for the meat industry workforce. They knew that if they let the company get away with it, pretty soon other plants and other companies would follow suit.

I give my full support to these workers for the brave stand they have taken.

And I want to commend all the supporters that have come along to tautoko.

The Meatworkers Union; worker representatives from every major New Zealand meat plant from as far North as Moerewa and as far South as Invercargill; and the support is from even further afield – from Japanese unions working in two companies that part-own ANZCO. The international support extends to a visit last week from Ron Oswald, General Secretary of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations, in New Zealand to support the workers.

Quite simply, the stand taken by 100 workers and their whanau is an action based in principle which warrants our united admiration.

Come Saturday, all of you will be asked to take a similar action. To take a stand; to back yourself; to believe in a future where all of our grandchildren are provided for; our environment is protected; our economy able to grow.

The Maori Party wants to be part of that future; taking up your concerns; and staying true to our principles. Together let's plan a future for all of us.

Authorised by Tariana Turia, Suite 21, Wicksteed Terrace, Whanganui

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