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Unions Mark May Day With Call To Fight Back Against Government Austerity


Unions are holding public events in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to mark May Day and International Workers’ Day 2024.

FIRST Union and Unite are also holding Stop-Work meetings for relevant local union members, and the public are being invited to attend and show support for workers’ rights in Aotearoa, which unions say are currently under threat from the National-ACT-NZ First Government.

For a full factsheet on the events, Stop-Work meetings, and issues under discussion, please see here.


May 1st, 12:00PM - 12:45PM


  • Auckland - Britomart Te Komititanga
  • Wellington - Midland Park
  • Christchurch - The Bridge of Remembrance


Dennis Maga, FIRST Union General Secretary, said there had been an outpouring of fear and frustration over the new Government’s immediate attack on workers’ rights, and May Day events this year offered a chance to build solidarity between union members and develop an organised resistance against the "dangerous ideas" that would undermine many of the historic achievements May Day is celebrated for.

"It would be pointless to simply celebrate the hard-won achievement of the 40-hour work week while many now struggle to survive, let alone thrive, on that 40 hours of income in 2024," said Mr Maga.

"When a full-time worker is living in poverty, it indicates a failed system and the need for major change; not more cuts, austerity and a further erosion of our rights at work."

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Mr Maga highlighted five of the new Government’s worst policies for workers in the attached document, including the end of Fair Pay Agreements, cuts to public services including Worksafe, the ‘urgent’ reintroduction of 90-day trial periods at work, and "irresponsible" tax cuts for landlords that will further impoverish workers and accelerate the transfer of wealth from the poorest to the richest New Zealanders.

"There is no doubt that it’s a bad time to be a worker in Aotearoa, but a great time to be a boss, lobbyist, consultant or any of the other vultures of austerity," said Mr Maga.

"We’re voting on several resolutions at our Stop-Work meetings, with the intention of coordinating future union action and developing alternative employment policies, because workers have been cut out of the decision-making under urgency in Parliament."

"We’ll celebrate the legacy of workers on May Day, but we must remind ourselves that industrial progress has only been possible because we refused to be exploited and we fought back during the toughest times."

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