Waatea News Column: May Day 2020 – who will celebrate the workers?


It’s May Day, the international day of celebration for the worker, but what do workers have to celebrate during Pandemic 2020?

While nice wealthy middle-class folk are tucked up in their well-stocked self-isolation mansions, essential workers who were never given any respect whatsoever are forced back to work to put their health at risk for the rest of us.

These essential workers who have been denied Union rights and living wages are joined by low paid retail workers and fast-food staff who face constant abuse and the ongoing threat of wage reductions.

Countdown workers restocking the supermarkets we all had to rely on recorded a 600% increase in violence and abuse, KFC and McDonald’s workers faced threats and abuse when they ran out of food this week and Farmer’s workers are being told to accept a 40% pay cut.

It’s not just those workers on the bottom, media and news workers have been asked to take 15% less and constant examples of bosses who took the wage subsidy only to screw over their workers continue to dominate headlines.

The 35-year neoliberal experiment in New Zealand has had its foundations exposed and been found incapable of responding to the economic realities created by the pandemic. The State must stand in now until a vaccine is found and in doing so the State MUST demand workers are given the dignity and respect they deserve.

Now is the time for big ideas, the CTU should be arguing for universal union membership so that Unions can safeguard worker rights, that would make May Day 2021 worthy of celebration.


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First published on Waatea News.


  1. +1000% The 35-year neoliberal experiment in New Zealand has had its foundations exposed and been found incapable of responding to the economic realities created by the pandemic.

    We need to stop lazy immigration ASAP and stop our taxes bailing out people who are not NZ nationals and up to no good here, taking wage subsidies and taking up housing and resources in NZ.

    If they can charter a plane to get more people into NZ, they can charter a plane to get people back to their own countries! I hear Air NZ have nothing to do.

    They also need to save our pensions by changing the rules so you need to have lived in NZ 50% of your life with receipts like benefits and tax statements to prove it, to qualify for a state pension. Stop the pension rorts!

    Use the saved pension money to help NZ kids and youth and create high paid jobs and opportunities, not give away free money no questions asked, to people that never even lived in NZ most of their lives, and short change everyone else!

    The rest of NZ are facing wage cuts and poverty, time the circa 100,000+ migrant pensioner scam costing our country a fortune, was cut too!

  2. Bomber one of the more positive things too come out of this pandemic is exposing the cruelty of the market economy for everyone too see and more importantly experience first hand.

    It has quite literally changed the economic landscape that most have been used too for thirty odd years.

    The Labour coalition government has the opportunity afforded too it too make fundamental changes that are long overdue and will not happen if the National party get anywhere near the treasury benches.

    This is Jacinda and Grants nuclear free moment !!

    If workers rights too be free from being exploited and that includes being paid fairly with benefits that are often missing from short term contracts then why can’t that be enshrined in our bill of rights or recognised in human rights in legislation ?

    We are all being extolled too look after one another , and were in this together so isn’t it time our labour laws are strengthened in this current environment ?

    Business has had it all its own way for too long and we are now seeing what happens when they assume total control of the economy by the way they treat their human capital.

    Enough is enough and this COVID 19 pandemic is the workers crises too exploit just as their corporate gangsters have been doing for decades as an excuse too exert more and more control.

  3. The CTU isnt allowed too oppose anything the Labour party does! Its affiliated to the Labour party as are all unions.

  4. Absolutely mosa, and Labour must prioritise the enshrinement In The Bill Of Rights and human rights legislation of the living wage and union membership for all workers. Also the repeal of legislation that allows companies to “employ” staff as independent contractors.
    Hopefully if Jacinda Ardern gets enough votes she will be able to govern alone, without Winston holding back worker friendly legislation.

  5. Before the last election National aimed a viscous blow challenging Labour to announce they would not introduce increased taxation. Higher taxation was the very thing the country needed.

    So the COL has been ham stringed, until Coviod19 has opened the Reserve Bank Option. But the new money created MUST be spent by Govt directly and not given as a gift to the banking sector to raise share and asset prices with a long term trickle down of a few % of the 30 billion gifted to them.

    The reserve bank can generate money straight into the Govt account at 0% interest, to be spent as the govt sees fit. That will fund a suite of necessary changes to help heal the growing equity chasm and so inject money into the pockets of the spending public.

    Higher tax rates on corporate earnings and the top income group is a matter of redistribution of what has been skimmed of by parasitic.

    The International Labour Organisation ( ILO ) used to have strong ties in a global net work and that needs to be recognised with action by unions and Govt.

  6. A bit of a May Day treat from the other side of the world (that is a day behind Aotearoa). Less studio -slick than Waters’ earlier cover of Seeger’s classic song (then for the resistance to Gaza’s blockade). But all the more intimate for it:


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