MEDIA WATCH: McCarten answers Bryce Edward’s challenge & steers Left  towards direct class based action

Meet your new Union representative here to discuss a wage rise

Bryce Edward’s issued a class challenge to politicians and the Left in The Guardian this weekend, Matt McCarten has answered…

Matt McCarten’s public revenge on exploitative employers

He’ll publish stories on Martyn Bradbury’s Daily Blog, use a social media team to disseminate it further, publish their names, photographs, home address and phone numbers. “I am going to be quite hardline on this,” he says, “and I know there will be some pushback.”

The words of a warrior back at the coalface. McCarten, former New Labour founder, Alliance Party president and leader, Mana and Maori Party insider, Labour party chief of staff and Unite Union creator has set up another union.

His One Union aims to take up the cases of unrepresented low-wage workers in small businesses. It has two offshoots: it has consumed the Migrant Workers’ Association, probably the most significant of a handful of campaigning migrants rights groups, and McCarten has also set up Utu – his direct action squad in the red truck.

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He says he has about 40 volunteers lined up, with veteran Unite organiser Joe Carolan as ‘captain of the guard’, with another 30 primed to run the name-and-shame social media. The idea came to him, he says, after first considering constituting a French Revolution-style Court of the People.

He expects he’ll be charged with vigilantism, like the judge-and-jury types who pursue paedophiles. He has an answer for that: he’d go after paedophiles too if they could make a small payment, never admit their guilt, be allowed to retain anonymity and continue as they did before.

…the activist left can either continue to squabble on social media over pure temple mantra purity tests or they can actually go straight to the economic frontline of exploitation and make a stand there with all the solidarity that generates.

Toxic political polarisation is coming, to inoculate ourselves on the activist Left we need to do less infighting on social media and more direct action alongside one another.

That is where Matt is taking One Union, because that is where the fight is.

Larger more middle class Unions fight for their members already well padded work conditions, One Union is alongside other working class unions in fighting not just for those exploited, but against the economic system that creates that exploitation in the first place.

This is where the fight line begins.

Choose a side.

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  1. Direct action! always been a fan and a practitioner as well, union membership, stop works, strikes, pickets, coalitions, social justice groups, solidarity campaigns, marches, forums, people power often gets results.
    Some say “but if we fight and stand up for ourselves we might lose”–yes, but if you do not fight you will definitely lose.

    The fact is union density is lamentably low, and that is not just a New Zealand problem, it is world wide under neo liberal hegemony and union busting. So should working class people and communities be abandoned because they are not currently dues paying union members? I might have thought so back in the 70s and 80s, but not now. Combined action of paid and unpaid workers is needed now more than ever as we face Climate Disaster and a Blair lite Labour Govt. determined to stick with failed “Trickle down” policies.

    The largest NZ unions are in the public sector and sworn to “political neutrality”–pity the senior public servants and MSD case managers are not–too many of them are right wing neo liberals who undermine anything progressive and torment vulnerable individuals seeking state assistance from WINZ, ACC, Health and education, and Immigration.

    So all power to Matt and supporters–Stick it to the man!

  2. Stuck it to the corporates, don’t start online bullying small businesses.
    They are suffering under the boot of corporate oppression and unjust law just like workers.

    • Some are, some aren’t.
      If you mean small businesses like food producers who struggle to get their product on supermarket shelves because of supermarket duopoly corporate style bullying then yes. If you mean small business owners who act ethically and realise their greatest asset is their labour force, then yes.

      If you mean the likes of small business contractors who provide slave labour to orchard owners and who clip the ticket for doing SFA and simply provide the means for orchard owners to distance themselves from any accountability – then no.
      OR if you mean small businesses like certain unethical immigration advisors that MBIE have encouraged (the ones that don’t operate under the aegis and oversight of say members of the legal profession where at least there are mechanisms for remedies), then no. An area where there’s the good, the bad and the VERY ugly

        • All working as designed @KCaCO.
          When you have a system that is effectively ‘the bizzniss of people’; when you get immigrants here under false pretences (SUCH AS promising a pathway to residency); when you put it all under a Ministry that’s mandate and culture is to encourage business at all costs; when those people you’ve made false promises to and you expect them not to be allowed to hold the same expectations Kiwis have (both here and as they travel overseas) – such as being allowed to be in relationships and have children without it being a complete hassle; when you don’t properly resource that Ministry in terms of what it is supposed to be doing – inadequate training, high staff turnover, not enough numbers at the coal face, low morale, and as Ross Meurant points out: corruption; when you bond (as in bondage) people to a specific employer who you have to take pot luck and grovel to ……… then people will do whatever they need to in order to survive. And then when you let it go on for a decade or so – both before the Ministry for Everything, and after, then you’ve effectively industrialised the the production of the kind of asshole Matt and others are campaigning against. Oh and then when you “legally” fleece them by taking exorbitant fees and not actually processing their visas, it comes as no surprise to me that we end up being no better than elsewhere in the world and we should either fix it or stop the pretence.
          We’ve globalised the problem when we could have been setting an example of how to do something better – but you know ,,,,, Rome wasn’t built in a day – except we’re supposed to be laying the bricks constantly rather than dithering in order to make progress and be kind and transformational.

        • Oh, and what usually starts out often being a matter of survival, inevitably becomes very ugly when greed takes over with the realisation that there’s huge money to be made.

      • Well done OWT, you have introduced nuance to the discussion. It is not a case of uggh! small man bad…Some small operators pay living wage, and are sincere about their environmental footprint and products. Others are under the thumb franchise holders, or harried contractors overwhelmed, or battling for more work. And then there are the types the Utu truck will be visiting…blatant liars and exploiters as far as workers are concerned, and con men and under deliverers for customers.

        Self employed and Small Business operators vary as OnceWasTim says. And may see “being your own boss” as a liberating thing–while indebted to banks up their very eyeballs! They have bought into an aspirational dream. Inside many small operators is a CEO with stock options, a rich lister, “Judith” in the contacts list–a magnate waiting to get out. A lot still go bust within a couple of years with the Audi and bach back on the market.

        Whatever, these people of the petit bourgeoisie do not deserve be held in more regard than working class people, particularly if their material success involves regular exploitation of staff or customers, rather than straight up production and commerce.

  3. Unscrupulous employers … name and shame them, drag them through where they belong, the muck and the dirt. This action has been a long time coming.

    Good to know someone is about to take the bull by the horns and champion abused and vulnerable workers. Well done and thanks Matt McCarten and team. Kia Kaha Comrades.

  4. …’the activist left can either continue to squabble on social media over pure temple mantra purity tests or they can actually go straight to the economic frontline of exploitation and make a stand there with all the solidarity that generates.

    Toxic political polarisation is coming, to inoculate ourselves on the activist Left we need to do less infighting on social media and more direct action alongside one another’…



    When I’ve had one too many I call up a particular taxi driver, He’s Scottish. He’s met Matt McCarten and says he’s a wonderful guy and he’s most impressed with him. For me? – in my early years Matt McCarten spoke my language. Like Laila Harr’e and like Jim Anderton did. They still do. All of them.

    And whether your a communist, a socialist or a Christian socialist with democratic principles,.. the things McCarten fights for are for you. The advancement of humanity and the recognition that we are ALL equal. And for those so inclined ( like me ) ,… before God. And that we deserve a fair shake. You’re humanity is measured in large part by your regard for others. It is the personal litmus test. Even a former exploitative capitalist can be redeemed.

    Look up and Google Arthur Guinness,.. of Guinness beer fame. See how he conducted his social policy’s for his workers. An amazing man. The original ‘cradle to the grave’ Irishman. Long before the welfare state came into vogue for capitalist’s scared of national revolutions… and you know what I mean… and his workers were loyal and loved him for it.

    Long may you run, Matt McCarten,…

    So here’s my tribute to you:

    Wang Dang Doodle – Howlin Wolf

    And never take it lightly, Matt, … Howlin Wolf is one of the greats.

    Seems there was a cock up in posting, hopefully not double posted.

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