Sunday, March 15, 2009

Socialise Sealords

At The Standard:
“Despite making sound profits Sealord are laying off 180 workers in Nelson. They claim the move is part of restructuring and that there will be fifty new jobs aboard factory ships that will fully process fish. Remaining workers are also being asked to take a pay cut.
I’m not sure I buy that. Even with the 6-on/6-off shifts they run on these ships 50 people will struggle to process the same number of fish as 180. I know some NZ fish is catch-frozen and shipped to China for processing before being sold back into the NZ market. If this is the plan here (and so far Sealord haven’t made it clear it isn’t) then some serious questions need to be asked.

One thing is for sure though, John Key won’t be doing the asking. He’s quoted on the Herald on-line as saying: “You’ll always get quite a lot of movement in the labour market, so the challenge here, I think, is to try and hold on to as many (jobs) as you practically can and make sure you’re sending the right signals that jobs are being created.” Which basically means he sees this as a market decision that the government can, at best, send signals about. So what kind of a signal is he sending here and, if he thinks that nothing can be done, why did we just spend $65K on a summit to save jobs? I much prefer the Maori Party’s position which is that the shareholders need to suck this one up and not try to profit at the expense of their (low-wage) workers. I wonder what steps they’ll take to see that happen?”

Of course Key doesnt care about Sealords. The labour market moves like god. Key is only interested in profits moving up and wages moving down. That’s capitalism. Workers choose wages cut by $70 or lose their jobs. We say Sealord should be a cooperative, not left to number crunchers to moan about $7m lost on excess wages. The Maori Party answer is pure utopia. They ask capitalists to take a cut in profits for what: to help “low paid workers”. Don’t have illusions in the Maori Party pious phrases about “low paid workers”. The Maori Party is propping up the capitalism that survives on the back of low paid workers in their sell-out coalition with the National Party! You won’t keep Maori workers on side with your Oliver Twist begging the bosses to hearten up. For low paid workers to survive you have to junk your capitalist survival of the fittest mentality.

Sealord is half owned by “The Maori People of NZ” via Aotearoa Fisheries, 50/50 with Japanese fish multinational Nissui that advertises on its glossy website like a cult religion talking about “creating value” out of it its Nissui “genes”. Workers do not rate a mention.
The Sealord workers could take a leaf out of the Japanese best-seller, The Crab Ship a 1929 account of a strike to get their industry unionised, written by Takiji Kobayashi who was then tortured to death at 29 by the secret police, now all the rage in Japan today where it strikes a bitter chord as millions of workers face the dole and worse.

We say socialise the fishing industry let the workers run it and find new markets and conserve the rapidly depleting fish stock that the vast majority of the world needs to live on, not a few rich Asians dining out!

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