Launching an ideological offensive of a kind, the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) has released a video which it claims will 'educate' the public on the reasons for the recession and how they can respond to it. Part One of the short thirteen-minute video is posted above.
Crunch Time was directed by Tony Sorurious who made the movie Campaign, a fly-on-wall account of the 1996 Wellington Central election race.
In the EMPU press release national secretary Andrew Little comments:
“In this recession our job as a union is very clear. We’ve got to look after our members, keep people in jobs, and keep wages and conditions. We also need to set some bottom lines, so that workers don’t take all the pain for a crisis they didn’t cause.
But Little and the EPMU's track record strongly suggest there are no 'bottom lines' when it comes to worker's rights - everything is up for grabs.
The film plugs the message that the National-led government are also promoting- 'we are all in the poo together'.
In truth it is ordinary people who are expected to pay the price for this crisis and clearly Andrew Little and the trade union hierarchy are about to travel down the road signposted 'Least Resistance' - again.
The pro-Labour and EPMU blog, The Standard , has posted the video describing it as 'sobering viewing'. I'm not sure if they are taking about the economic crisis or the dismal response of Little and the EPMU. Perhaps its both.
The response to the video has been less than supportive if some reader comments on The Standard are anything to go by;
'.Gimme a break. This is just propaganda from a right wing union to talk workers into accepting they’ll be paying for this crisis. The union bureaucracy featured in this video are no friend of the workers. Why should workers pay for a crisis they didn't make. - Ray.
. If Little and Conway believed their own propaganda that capitalism is sweet and its just the financiers that ran amok, they would be saying let the financial speculators pay for the crisis, we are not paying for any of it.'- Rave.
The difficulty with this video is that tries to explain the recession as just the work of a few 'bad apples'( eg financial speculators)) rather than as result of the capitalist system itself in crisis
But you are not going to get that kind of analysis from featured economists like Brain Easton and Gareth Morgan as they both share a hostility for Marxian economics.
Meanwhile Chris Trotter, one of Labour's more high-profile supporters launched a blistering attack on Andrew Little in his newspaper column this week. It is also posted on his blog.
He is strongly critical of Little's appointment as Labour Party president.
Describing Little as about 'as exciting as a wet week in August', Trotter asks the question whether Labour Party has simply turned into a convenient staging post for people with parliamentary aspirations.
While this blog has often attacked Little as being 'business friendly' Chris Trotter has largely remained silent.
But the appointment of Little to the Labour Party presidency may of been the straw that broke the camel's back, because Trotter really lets rip;
Call me old fashioned, but a union leader who receives loud plaudits from the business community makes me nervous.
Either they’re being really good sports; as in: "By God that Andrew Little’s a tough negotiator, isn’t he? We were determined to limit our pay offer to the rate of inflation, but somehow he screwed a ten percent increase out of us. I tell you, that guy makes Matt McCarten look like a big fluffy pussycat!"
Or, they’re doing their best to hold onto the good thing they’ve got; as in: "I can’t believe we got away with it - again! I was positive that this year the EPMU would be demanding at least a ten percent wage rise. But, no, they settled for their usual cost-of-living adjustment. I can’t begin to tell you what a positive influence Andrew Little has had on the company’s bottom line. Seriously, the guy’s worth his weight in gold!"
Trotter is also angry that, despite a heavy election defeat, its just business as usual within Labour and it continues to support the failed creed of neoliberalism. There has been no debate, no revaluation, no new ideas.
Trotter says that part of the problem is that there isn't much of a party left to have a debate in. He says that Labour has less than 2000 paid up members in Auckland.
This is a political party dying on its feet.
It is indeed 'crunch time' - both for the Labour Party and the trade union bureaucracy. Will they stand up and fight for ordinary workers or will they just capitulate again to the demands of capital?
If the EPMU video is anything to go by, neither are preparing to fight.