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May Day: The Biggest Threat To NZ Workers In 2024 Is Our Government

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Thousands of workers attended public events in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch today to celebrate International Workers’ Day (May Day), but union representatives are urging caution and vigilance over the Government’s blatantly "anti-worker" agenda, which they say threatens decades of industrial progress in Aotearoa’s workplaces.

FIRST Union and Unite members, who were also holding yearly Stop-Work meetings at May Day events, discussed and passed a series of resolutions that will guide coordinated trade union resistance to the Government’s agenda in workplaces, including establishing May Day as a recurrent date for future actions for union members, and developing alternate employment policies based on workers’ wellbeing rather than shareholders’.

"It’s a bittersweet May Day - we’re celebrating the many important victories won by workers, like the 8-hour day and safety standards at work, but we know that working people are currently staring down the greatest threat to their rights and wellbeing in decades - the New Zealand Government," said Mr Maga.

"The ACT Party does not care about workers’ wellbeing whatsoever but were handed the employment relations portfolio anyway, and new Minister Van Velden is laying waste to years of progress while ignoring affected workers and cutting them out of the decision-making process."

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Mr Maga pointed to several other policies enacted by the National-ACT-NZ First Government that will increase inequality in Aotearoa and damage workplace relations between employers and employees, like the reintroduction of 90-day trial laws, the cancellation of Fair Pay Agreement negotiations, budget cuts to workplace safety agency Worksafe, and wide-reaching public service cuts that Mr Maga said are "born of ideology, not need".

"With zombified policies like the 90-day trial law returning from beyond the grave, the entire union movement must be vigilant and prepared for further attacks on workers and more right-wing policymaking that benefits the richest and punishes the poorest without any shame at all," said Mr Maga.

Unite National Secretary, John Crocker, said workers were going backwards under this Government.

"The Government has come out swinging at hospitality workers," said Mr Crocker. "They’ve expanded 90-day trials so more workers can be sacked for nothing, and repealed Fair Pay legislation that would have improved pay and conditions for the whole hospitality industry."

"We hear from our members that they’re struggling through a cost of living crisis, and this Government’s response has been a minimum wage increase that’s below the rate of inflation and means workers are going backwards."

"It’s little wonder that thousands of Kiwi workers are looking across the ditch and realising that the barrier to entry - an airfare - is much lower than the cost of staying in New Zealand under this Government."

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