Thursday, July 20, 2006

A great day for the union movement?

Yesterday I didn't think I was going to be able to attend the rally against Wayne Mapp's 90 day bill. I was pretty sick and I said to anyone who listened "I'll be damned if I'm going to damage my help to turn up EPMU's stupid pro-Labour rally." But this morning I was feeling much better, so I thought I'd better show. I'm really glad that I did, since it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be (this probably has something to do with the fact that I had extremely low expectations - don't knock them).

There were probably between 1000 and 2000 people there. Numbers often look small on parliament, so it's hard to tell. There's already a couple of good reports up on indymedia.

The highlight for me came from Choir, Choir Pants on Fire (who I often find too pro-labour). I'm a sucker for union songs, and generally think our movements could do with a bit more singing. They had written a 90 day bill specific version of Holly Near's Singing for Our Lvies. They'd kept the verse 'we're gay and straight together'. This may not have been a direct response to Rosemary McLeod's extremly homophobic opinion piece on the weekend,* but it felt good to be singing it.

The highlight of the speeches was definately the lack of Labour party MPs. Also no-one actually told us to vote Labour, and while there was an awful lot of talk about how evil National is working in the union movement you learn to appreciate the little things.

I'm always astonished that the president of the CTU speaks to rallies in exactly the same way he would talk to a press-conference or give a submission to a select committee, even the content was the same. Laila Harre got a lot of bonus points from me for mentioning youth rates, and also at least trying to make a speech to a rally. The Australian unionist was pretty good at oratory, but I didn't listen to what he was saying (in fact the only reason I listened to the speeches at all was so I could write about them on my blog - so I hope you appreciate it).

Andrew Little proclaimed it a great day for the union movement - I think 'great' is overstating it. But I do think taking collective action is important - and I think it's fantastic that they managed to get so many people out. Even if it wasn't great, I'd say it was a better day than the union movement had had in a while.

* For some reason I'm really tempted to misquote Buffy in response to that article: "No the fact that Labour's anti-worker makes them anti-worker, the legislation just makes them look purple"


  1. From what I heard of the speeches they managed to confirm why the bill is a good idea.

    Yeah - lets use France as a superb example of what we want to be like...

  2. the bill sounds like a bad idea to me. It makes the law look as though it is working against itself. Also since there is low unemployment it is unclear why there would be a push for it.