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CTU unveils its political strategy for 2008.

Enhanced workers' rights, strong public services and higher wages--these are the three policy planks of the Council of Trade Union's (CTU) political strategy reading into erection year 2008.

The policies were announced at the CTU's Te Kauae Kaimahi 20th anniversary conference in Wellington last month, attended by around 200 union delegates, including 16 from NZNO, and with the theme Sustainability and Democracy. Newly elected CTU president Helen Kelly said the political strategy was about fairness and respect at work and in communities. "2008 is an important year," she said. "Unions have proved they can campaign well and win on the issues that matter to working people. Our political strategy sends a strong and unequivocal signal that there is a very significant role for unions in politics. The CTU wants to know where all political parties stand on the protection and enhancement of work rights, stronger public services and higher wages. And importantly, we want to know what they plan to do about them. These are the planks of our political strategy and the ground on which we will campaign in election year."

The election campaign would centre on unions doing their politics differently, recognising specific political roles for union members, and being active around the core themes. "We are the largest democratic movement in New Zealand, with 350,000 members and growing steadily, and that's a powerful mandate," said Kelly. Referring to possible tax cuts next year, she said they must not undermine the public services needed now and in the future. "We will continue to argue that the main problem with take-home pay is the low wages paid by employers."

More progress was needed on such issues as health and safety in the workplace, minimum rest and lunch breaks, enhanced paid parental leave, more reasonable hours of work and greater support for more flexible working arrangements. The CTU will campaign to lift wages to dose the gap with wage levels in Australia and is calling for the minimum wage to be set at $15 an hour, two-thirds of the average wage. It also wants the Employment Relations Act revised to ensure that multi-employer and industry bargaining are firmly established.

Next year's focus will be on ensuring art workers are on the electoral roll and understand their responsibility to vote.

The conference installed its new vice chair Richard Wagstaff and reaffirmed secretary Carol Beaumont and vice president Maori Sharon Clair into their roles. Tributes were paid to outgoing president Ross Wilson who held the position for eight years and "was spectacularly successful in unifying the New Zealand union movement and reading a positive, constructive and active union agenda," said Beaumont.

Speaking to delegates, Wilson said the union movement had much to cerebrate in its recent victories against two Australian corporates Progressive Enterprises and Spotless Services, and in political gains like improvements to annual holidays, minimum wages and paid parental leave. However he warned that the gains of the past eight years could be at risk with a change of government next year. "At stake are the fundamental differences in policy and values between a centre left and a centre right government in New Zealand."


Other speakers at the three-day conference were Prime Minister Helen Clark, secretary of the International Trace Union Confederation, Guy Ryder and president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions Sharan Burrow.

The CTU's vision of the workplace of the future was presented in a new booklet launched at conference, Te Huarahi mo nga Kaimahi. See http:/ /
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Title Annotation:NEWS AND EVENTS
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Date:Nov 1, 2007
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