Wednesday, December 14, 2005

...And, who said that the Unions were militant??

Unions fail to confront Govt over Air NZ plans

Press Release: New Zealand Alliance Party
10 December 2005

Rather than confront the Government over Air NZ plans to shut-down its heavy engineering aircraft repair operations, unions have turned to an anti-union accounting firm to come up with a cost-saving scheme at the expense of workers' conditions.

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) and the Aviation and Marine Engineers Association (AMEA) have put up a plan that would save only half of the 600 jobs that would be lost if the engineering work was outsourced off-shore.

Not only would more than 300 jobs disappear, the workers who remain would have to take a major wage cut and yet still be expected to do the same or more work.

Instead of making concessions, the Alliance says the unions should be waging a campaign to force the Government, which owns 82 per cent of Air NZ, to take full control of the airline and ensure the engineering repair facilities are kept open.

Alliance co-leader Len Richards says the unions have buckled under to the blackmail of the company, which is cynically using the threat of a complete closure of the repair workshops to extract "voluntary" concessions from the workers.

The unions have hired Michael Stiassny of the accountancy firm Ferrier Hodgson who has come up with a plan that will mean far-reaching changes in work conditions in the hope that enough money can be saved to convince the company to save 300 engineers' jobs.

The Alliance says Mr Stiassny is not known as a workers' champion. He specialises in company restructuring and insolvency. He chairs the Board of the lines company Vector and Auckland's corporatised water company, Metrowater. He also holds directorships in a number of other companies including Metlifecare, a major player in the aged care industry currently under attack in a corporate takeover bid by the Australian McQuarrie Bank.

He told the NZ Herald it was "phenomenal" and an "amazing surprise", to see "how far the [union] delegates and members have moved on labour reform". It is "unusual", he crowed, "to see a union make those ... deliverables" and Air NZ should take advantage of these concessions.

Andrew Little, the national secretary of the EPMU, described the accountants' plan as a viable alternative, but in selling workers' conditions in return for an unenforceable undertaking that some jobs will be saved, Mr Little and the unions are playing right into the company's hands, Mr Richards says.

The company that Mr Stiassny works for is known as a "corporate undertaker", having dealt with several high profile company receiverships. In one, a so-called "Phoenix" scheme in 1998, a stevedoring company went into receivership and then arose from its own ashes under a new name.

"This was done to cheat laid-off wharfies out of their holiday and redundancy pay," Mr Richards says. "The wharfies, through the liquidator, successfully sued Ferrier Gibson for nearly $2 million. To think such a company would act in the interests of Air NZ engineers, as Andrew Little obviously does is, at the very least, the height of naivety."

Only a few days before the presentation of the union concessions to Air NZ, the company said that even a 25 per cent cut in labour costs for the engineers would not be enough to save their jobs.

"In fact Air NZ said only across-the-board concessions from all 2100 engineering workers could see some of the heavy engineering jobs saved. Air NZ management said even changes in shift patterns, removal of penal rates and an 'hours bank' to manage the work load would not be cheaper than outsourcing," Mr Richards says.

The Alliance says the loss of our country's heavy aircraft repair capacity would be a major blow to our strategically important transport infrastructure. The Labour-led government should act in the interests of the people who elected it and protect the 600 jobs at risk while ensuring New Zealand continues to have a viable national airline.

"Privatisation of transport has been a disaster for New Zealand as has been seen in the fiascos dogging the railways and bus companies. An integrated, planned transport system is only possible through public ownership and democratic control," Mr Richards says.

The Alliance is calling on the unions to consider an Argentinean-style occupation of the workshops in both Auckland and Christchurch.

"Such an occupation would win wide community support. It's not only about the job losses. These workshops are assets owned by the people of New Zealand and should remain so."


Links: Len Richards - Newssoc

Friday, December 09, 2005

Iraqi Doctors Beaten and Arrested in Haditha Hospital
Sabah Ali (30/10/2005)

Dr. Walid Al-Obeidi, the director of Haditha General Hospital and Dr. Jamil Abdul Jabbar, the only surgeon in the Haditha area were arrested for a week, very badly beaten and threatened to face the same treatment in the future by the American troops.

Dr.Walid said “they arrested me in my house in front of my family, covered my eyes, and tied my hands to the back on Oct 5 2005 morning, during the last attack on Haditha (360 kilometers west of Baghdad). They occupied the hospital for 8 days and made it their office. The first day they beat me on my eyes, nose, back, hands, legs... My face was covered with blood .When they removed the tie I could not see. They investigated me until the afternoon. I realized later that I was arrested in the hospital store. Then they tied my hands to the front, and left me for two days. I was moved then to the pharmacy department. They accused me of treating terrorists, and asked for their names.

I told them that I treat patients regardless of their identity, according to my oath as a doctor; even if they were national guards (which we actually I did) or American soldiers. And any way, if I do not want to treat the insurgents, I have no choice, because they were armed and masked. I would do anything they tell to do. Few days later, one of the soldiers came in the room, did not say anything, kicked me again on my face and left”.

Dr. Jamil, a surgeon for 20 years, was arrested and very badly beaten. When we met him, 22 days later, his face was still blue. His nose was broken, and a big opening in his head: “They beat me on my eyes and nose, kicked me with boots under my chin. One of them threatened me if I do not talk after he counts to three, he would shoot me. He began counting, after three he turned the gun upside down and hit me on the back of my head. For days I could not move or see. They threatened us of abusing our families. For some reason they took my picture while I was bleeding, I could hear the camera click”.

Both doctors were threatened if they do not talk, they would receive the same treatment in the future. They were warned of passing any information of the arrest to the media. They were asked who wrote the hostile slogans against the American on the opposite wall of the hospital? What are the names of the insurgents they treated? and what are the bodies’ pictures in the hospital computer?

Dr.Walid said he does not know who wrote on the wall outside the hospital, what the names of the insurgents are, because they were masked. He explained that the dead bodies’ pictures were of unknown people whose bodies were found after the fighting. “We can not keep these bodies forever; we do not have enough cold boxes. So, after two months, we take their pictures and bury them, so that whenever some one from their families comes to ask we show the pictures of the dead bodies”.

The UN, the international HR organizations, WHO, Doctors sans frontiers…and all who it may concern are called upon to do some thing to help these, and other Iraqi doctors, and to prevent similar treatment in the future. Dr.Walid and Dr. Jamil believe that they may face the arrest and beating in the future. They demand that the American troops stop occupying the hospital and destroying it every time the attack Haditha. They also believe that the Iraqi authorities are incapable of protecting them.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Bewarned Dipshits Abound!

Apparently, ‘Progressive Essays’ was a cruel joke designed to lure people (left-wingers) into thinking that he/she/it was a left-winger whilst, using selected speeches from people such as Hitler, to justify their comments. As he/she/it notes,

“This blog was started as an experiment to examine
this phenomenon. What would happen if someone began writing under a
"progressive" byline, with progressive being the acceptable name of socialism in
these post-communist days, but with the twist of using only Nazi and fascist raw
material?….Obviously a little editing would be required to transform 1930-type
issues into post-millenium situations, but surely they'd recognise the Nazi
"blood and soil" and environmental motifs, the rabid anticapitalist and
anti-free market ideologies of Nazism and fascism and even a piece of
Mein-bloody-Kampf? Or would these "leftist" pillars that actually so pervade
"rightist" ideology obscure the references too much for them to identify the
likely authors?”

He/her/it is quite gleeful in regards to their ability to ‘put one over on the left’ and how this shows that some of us have Nazi Sympathies;

“…Joe Hendren, a "noted" fascist historian, didn't recognise the fascist
literature, BlogGreen liked the greenie aspects of Nazi ideology and CutFoldGlue
finds the whole thing to be very in tune. They may feel free now to reassign
Progressive Essays into a different slot on their blog rolls.”

Apparently, the proof of showing Nazi or totalitarian sympathies appears to be: 1) listing Progressive Essays as Left, based I suspect, on reading a couple of their 'edited' postings or maybe as a result of reading other people’s listings or 2) on the basis of welcoming Progressive Essays to the world of blogging, as BlogGreen generously does to most people.

However, the joke could be on him/her/it as they appear to assume that firstly, people continuously read their blog and secondly, that no response to their postings signifies an acceptance of their points of view. Surely, it would have been better for their experiment if they had pulled either me, or Joe or BlogGreen or someone from the left into agreeing with them?

However, it is a good lesson for me to be more careful in my listings, as I had listed PE as left judged on reading two blog postings (why he/she/it was in the blog sphere and their follow up posting on Iraq). I had not been back to their site and, therefore, missed his/her/it’s follow up blogs until today. (Memo to self: I will now regularly read those blogs that I list).

However, it also really fucks me off because I dislike deception. I like people who are honest about what they believe and open in what they say. For example, while, I don’t agree or support those comments from Aaron Bhatnagar, Grant Tyrell or David Farrar, I respect their right to express their points of view as an important part of a democracy.

Somehow, I feel that PE might be closer to those that he borrowed the comments from than he/she/it thinks, as anyone who has researched the Weimar Republic knows that deception and double handedness were the Nazi’s favourite traits.