In the fight against the government's austerity policies, the leadership of the Combined Trades Union has nothing to offer but press releases and soundbites. Is it little wonder that the CTU lost over 8000 members between 2009 - 11?

This Friday there will be pickets  outside Work and Income offices throughout New Zealand, to protest the draconian welfare polices of the National  Government. Hopefully it is the beginning of a sustained fightback against the policies of austerity.

The organisers of the protests don't have a lot of material resources but what they lack  materially they make up for  in enthusiasm and determination.  The October 5 protests have already attracted  a lot of attention from the mainstream media so, in that respect, they have already  succeeded - they have  crashed   Paula Bennett's 'Bash A Beneficiary A  Day Party'. Sorry Ms Bennett - the victims of the government's austerity policies are not going to blamed by you for being jobless and poor.

While the October 5 protest's have attracted support   from some individual unions (such as Unite) the Combined Trades Union is, again, sitting on the sidelines and doing exactly nothing.

While Helen Kelly and co are quick to criticise  the Key government and its policies, that is all they prepared to do. If they are feeling unusually 'aggressive' they might stick a video on YouTube, otherwise it's the predictable press releases and media soundbites. Which, of course, the government duly ignores.

The CTU's policy is depressingly familiar.

It will again trot behind a politically bankrupt Labour Party in the hope it'll win the next election -  rather than fight this government right here, right now. 

It also  did that, of course, in the years leading up to the  2008 and actively suppressed strike action in order to give Phil Goff and Labour a clear run at the election.  It was a disastrous strategy and now ordinary people are paying the heavy price for the CTU's inertia. But the officials of the CTU remain in their well-paid jobs, seemingly unaccountable for their stupidity, laziness  and incompetence. A big problem is that these people are unaccountable because there is no real democracy within the trade union movement. It is little wonder that it is  dominated  by do-nothing bureaucrats.

It's an absolute indictment on the CTU top brass that at time when resistance is required to the government's  austerity polices, there has been so little industrial action.  Indeed strikes are at an all-time low.

So its again  been up to individual unions to engage in struggle for their members  but , by definition, they have been isolated and limited struggles  and which the Key government has been able to  absorb.

So the CTU  is  providing no answers and  no leadership for the mass of workers when such leadership is desperately needed. We are expected to believe that David 'raise the retirement age to 65' Shearer  is the answer - despite the fact  he has no intention of upsetting  the neoliberal applecart.

Having consistently  shafted workers in his role as national secretary  of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union we are supposed to give someone like Andrew Little the opportunity to do exactly the same thing in government? Gosh, we're do I sign up? That sounds just fantastic!

Electoralism is again failing ordinary New Zealanders.  Perhaps both the CTU and Labour should reflect on the fact that to win an election you have to show that you are prepared to take the fight to this government and that you are offering something more than yet another variation on the failed policies of  neoliberalism.  Lauding the virtues of the free market, as Labour often does, doesn't even hint that Labour has anything to offer people presently suffering under the Key government.

So when you see  ordinary people protesting on Friday  think also about  a union bureaucracy that isn't prepared to fight for the workers it claims to represent and stands idly while beneficiaries, who it claims it supports, continue to be bashed by this government.


  1. There is no solidarity between unions and beneficiaries. Unions hate the poor the same way the Labour Party hate the poor. Labour's welfare policies are the same as National's and the CTU and Labour live up each others backsides.

  2. Hate the poor? Unions? All unions or do you mean those who have executive power inside unions?

    Unions in themselves hate no one. The Trade Unions play a vital part in general reform etc BUT they have tendency towards cooperation and sometimes as it seems (if this is right) to thwart strong action.

    Part of the problems of unions are the same as government at large - people think they can vote for someone and then relax. It requires active participation or maybe the formation of "illegal unions" - that is new unions of the people.

    The CTU in the old days (and now it seems) was always a conservative force (e.g. in the 1951 Lockout). But anonymous your comment is not very constructive or clear. But I see where you are pointing.

    I can take from it that by and large the major unions are conservative and often at the top level even support the status quo.
    But that doesn't mean unions as such are always "bad", or all unionists are "bad".

    But I agree with the general criticism of the CTU. Unions, in many cases, hold back real progress by workers or in the present case the "unemployed" etc

  3. What a load of hate filled crap this post is; no wonder workers stopped voting for the Alliance. Why don't you join a union and actually try to make a difference? Or is it easier just helping the boss out by attacking workers' organisations?

  4. I don't know what the Alliance has got to do with the CTU.

    Drawing attention to the inaction and betrayals of the CTU doesn't 'help out the boss' as you claim. Rather, the CTU has been helping the bosses for many years by its failure to fight for the interests of the people it claims to represent.


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