Taihape situation shows dangers of private health providers

The failure of Otaihape Health Trust to manage its budget shows the danger of relying on private providers to service New Zealand’s health needs, says Alliance Party Health Spokesperson Tom Dowie.
The trust which runs the majority of Taihape’s health services is facing bankruptcy and is trying to get staff to take massive pay cuts to stave off bankruptcy.
“This is a situation where management budgeting failures have resulted in demands that hard working nurses, who are the backbone of any health service, are being asked to take massive pay cuts, or lose their jobs.”
Mr Dowie backed calls from nursing staff for a statutory manager to take over the running of Taihape’s health service.
“When admin expenses increase threefold in one year, someone has lost sight of the primary reason for the service, which is health care. The sooner a statutory manager is appointed, the better.”
The Alliance Party believes that health is a Government responsibility and should be delivered by the Government.
“Trusts can always wind up and walk away from their responsibility and the Government should not be supporting this risky form of health provision”.

Workers must fight back against National Government's attacks

The Alliance Party says John Key’s announcement of attacks on working New Zealanders and their unions must be resisted.

Alliance Party industrial spokesperson Trevor Hanson says the union movement must lead the fight back against National’s announcement of policies that will smash the few protections workers have under current employment laws.

He says the intent of National’s attack on working people is aimed at creating a frightened and powerless working class who will be forced into accepting the unacceptable from aggressive employers.

“These changes such as the extension of fire at will and undermining of right of access to workplaces for unions will be a devastating blow for workers if they are allowed to be forced through.”

“National is selling off New Zealand, selling out New Zealanders and pushing us towards the status of a developing nation which will see poverty side by side with grotesque privilege.”

Mr Hanson says New Zealanders must defend our traditional values of fairness and decency before they are further eroded by the greed driven and immoral National Government.

He says the social fabric of New Zealand has been torn apart by right wing policies and deregulation which has created a class of working poor who cannot pay the bills.

Mr Hanson says many workers are surviving on casual jobs from day to day and their desperate situation would become worse if National’s anti-worker and anti-union policies continue.

“These New Zealanders can afford a mobile phone and a second hand imported car, but not healthy food, medical care or houses.”

He says communities have been hit hard by casual jobs, low wages and social disruption from economic insecurity.

“These problems are the result of the dog eat dog policies of successive Government’s who have allowed New Zealand to become an unequal, damaged society.”

Mr Hanson says the Alliance wants to help workers by improving wages, reducing casualization and getting rid of GST.

Rail campaign Dunedin meeting attracts positive public response

A public meeting in South Dunedin to support the campaign to build new trains for Auckland in New Zealand workshops attracted around 50 people on Monday 12 July 2010.
The message they heard was that Dunedin people will have to stand up and fight to make this goal a reality, with this years local body elections and next years national elections providing an opportunity to apply political pressure.
Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) Hillside Branch Secretary Les Ingram, who works at Hillside, said an estimated 500 to 1200 extra jobs and nearly $500 million dollars in income were at stake.
“Dunedin cannot afford to let opportunities like this pass it by if we want to provide jobs for local people in the future.”
The RMTU were continuing their campaign and wanted to get across to the public how building rail units locally would provide a massive boost in jobs and income.
The Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) is supporting the RMTU campaign and MUNZ General Secretary Joe Fleetwood, visiting from Wellington, addressed the meeting on free trade issues.
He told the audience that they needed to get behind the Hillside workers campaign and demand that politicians listen.
He said the push for free trade policies was largely responsible for the situation where jobs were threatened due to unbalanced economic policies.
Both speakers agreed that the notion that New Zealand did not have the expertise to do the rail work was discredited nonsense.
Mr Ingram detailed previous work done at Hillside and his view was backed up by a retired engineer in the audience who recounted the many large scale projects other Dunedin firms have undertaken in the past.
The meeting was chaired by Victor Billot of the Alliance Party who said that highly skilled, high value jobs that would be created through building trains locally were exactly what was needed in New Zealand at the current time.
The approach of the National Government was reprehensible, he said.

National Government must be held accountable for $500 million rail debacle

The Alliance Party says KiwiRail CEO Jim Quinn and the silent Minister of Transport Steven Joyce may not think New Zealand can handle such a large engineering contract as the building of Auckland’s new electric trains – but New Zealand workers are absolutely certain that they can do the job.

Alliance Party co-leader Kay Murray says a rally of rail engineering workers in Dunedin this week showed that the skills, motivation and community support were there.

All that is lacking is corporate leadership and political leadership from a National Government.

National has failed the tens of thousands of workers who have lost jobs since John Key came to office, and are now effectively forcing hundreds of millions of dollars of rail engineering contracts out of the country.

The Alliance is urging New Zealanders to support the Rail and Maritime Transport Union campaign to build rolling stock in New Zealand which has attracted widespread support in the community (http://www.rmtunion.org.nz/articles/article-building-rolling-stock-in-nz.php)

“It is not acceptable to send $500 million of taxpayers money out of the country when jobs are needed and communities are struggling. It is not acceptable to deny New Zealanders work and all the flow on effects keeping Kiwis in work would bring.”

Over 1700 workers recently applied for 170 jobs at a new Bunnings store in Dunedin, indicating the seriousness of the unemployment crisis affecting many regions of New Zealand – a crisis that the Government will not even acknowledge.

Ms Murray says the $500 million contract has turned into a debacle with local workers denied the opportunity to use their skills.

Phase Two “Expressions of Interest” closes at the end of this week, but KiwiRail’s own workshops Hillside and Hutt Valley are forbidden to participate.

The people of New Zealand own KiwiRail and we must insist that our public rail system must not give public money to overseas corporations when we can do the job ourselves.

The Alliance says the chickens are coming home to roost as successive Government’s have gambled and lost on free trade dogma that has undermined our industry.

Rail decision an indictment on Government

The Alliance Party has denounced the decision of Kiwirail management not to bid for the contract to build Auckland’s new electric trains.

Alliance Party transport spokesperson Trevor Hanson says New Zealanders must resist a National Government that is “pulling New Zealand down.”

Mr Hanson says the work should be done in New Zealand.

He says at a time when New Zealanders are suffering from the highest unemployment in many years, the responsibility was on Transport Minister Steven Joyce and the National Government to take action.

“National is stealing jobs from New Zealanders as they have the ability to turn this incredibly bad decision around – if they wanted to.”

“The current National Government and Kiwirail senior management have let New Zealand down badly.”

Mr Hanson says unless the decision is reversed, it will result in higher unemployment, worsen New Zealand’s balance of payments, and reduce our ability to manufacture advanced industrial products.

He says high quality studies have shown the potential benefits of building the new electric trains locally.

Nats attack on jobless Kiwi's blows up in their faces

The Alliance Party says the credibility of the National Government is in tatters after their ham fisted smear campaign on the unemployed and solo parents comes unglued in spectacular fashion.

Many New Zealanders have condemned yesterday’s attacks on beneficiaries, including the Salvation Army, which described the plan as unworkable and a recipe for more troubled and neglected children.

Now the debacle has widened as National’s own Attorney General has admitted the plan to punish jobless New Zealanders breaches the Bill of Rights.

Alliance Economic Development Spokesperson Quentin Findlay says their attempt to use the unemployed and solo parents as economic ‘cannon fodder’ has failed miserably.

He says many New Zealanders have reacted with concern as the Government resorts to the “blame game” of the 1990s where the previous National Government attempted to cover for appalling levels of unemployment by attacking the victims of unemployment.

Mr Findlay says news the reforms breach the Bill of Rights Act on three grounds by discriminating on the basis of sex and family and marital status had blown Social Development Minister Paula Bennett’s credibility out of the water.

“The fact John Key has had to prop up the plan with a rare appearance shows things have suddenly turned bad for National as most fair minded New Zealanders recall the same nasty tactics in the 1990s, which resulted in National being turfed out of office for a decade.”

“The famous Key smile is going, going . . . gone.”

Mr Findlay says this presents a problem for National, as Minister of Covering for Floundering Colleague’s Steven Joyce has already been handed so many portfolios recently he probably wasn’t available to take over from Paula.

Mr Findlay said that sanctimonious homilies from John Key and Paula Bennett about the need to find work were a transparent ruse to distract from mass unemployment.

“This Government is aware from Treasury Reports that unemployment could continue to rise and further that the Government was actually in the process of actively firing people from areas in the public service.”

“The Tories are actively pursuing an active policy of unemployment. Their reforms in the public sector are costing jobs and conditions. Every day they appear to announce a new policy that costs New Zealanders jobs.”

Instead of facing up to their lack of developed policy in these areas the Tories have returned to form by blaming the victims of Government policies for the Government’s own short comings.

“If the Government really want people off the unemployment benefit then maybe it should consider actively pursuing policies that promote full employment.”

Mr Findlay said that an active employment policy would require a u-turn on 25 years of failed monetary and fiscal policies. It would mean a complete redraft of the Reserve Bank Act, a halting of free trade negotiations and active Government investment in infrastructure.

“The Tories are pursuing the same failed market led policies that previous Governments have. The result has been the increased impoverishment of many New Zealanders.”

Mr Findlay said that the most vulnerable New Zealanders were paying the price for the poor decisions of others while the “real leeches on the economy” were given a free ride.

Major rise in minimum wage required

The Alliance Party says the National Government’s 25 cents per hour rise in the minimum wage does nothing to help low income New Zealanders who are living in a state of financial crisis.

Alliance Party co-leader Kay Murray says the Alliance has argued for many years that a substantial rise in the minimum wage would have positive economic and social outcomes.

“Wage increases stimulate the economy and create new jobs.”

“A higher minimum wage would mean more income for the Government through an increased tax take and it would mean less money spent on subsidies for low income earners such as the working for families package and rent subsidies.”

She says the Government is currently making up the difference between what minimum wage workers get paid and the amount workers need to live on.

Ms Murray says the minimum wage must realistically reflect the cost of living in New Zealand and should pay for the basics, which it does not do today.

Many larger employers making substantial profits are doing so by underpaying their often young and vulnerable workers who have little bargaining power, she says.

The share of wealth going to workers has decreased for many years, and low income workers are the most disadvantaged of all, battling with rising food, accommodation and transport costs.

The Alliance supports the Unite Union campaign for a minimum wage of $15 an hour and for annual increases until the minimum wage is brought up to 66% of the average total hourly earnings.

The Alliance Party policy is for a $17 per hour minimum wage.