Just one thing that I should have made clear - Unite organisers and the Greens have repeatedly claimed that the strike was an action by Radical Youth, a group run by the students themselves. The Unite connection I made in this morning's post was to point out that Unite probably offered a bit more than "practical support".
This from PA reader Ben:
I'm not sure it's a secret that Unite and the Greens funded the Radical Youth "strike". Radical Youth have all of about 20 members and couldn't organise their way to passing NCEA level 1. If it is a secret, it's a badly kept one, not least by Unite. RY certainly don't have the cash to pay for buses to ferry striking students to the city."
Tze Ming notes that, quite apart from the school strike, Unite has done a lot of as part of their Supersizeme campaign:
Unite have been the ones organising the entire Supersizemypay campaign from the start and haven't exactly tried to 'hide' this fact. And they have organised 'proper' industrial action by actual youth workers in actual workplaces, repeatedly and successfully over the summer. They are a real union after all. Just because Oosterman et al are wide-ranging activists as well, doesn't mean they aren't real unionists. So if you're a real activist, you can't be a real unionist? Their work on the youth rates issue over summer is probably the most successful campaign I've ever seen carried out by an independent union."
And this from Stephen Day, who is a real unionist over at FinSec:
...the point of a strike, or any other component of a campaign, is to improve the negotiating position of the union membership. In this instance Unite is clearly [aiming to put] pressure on Parliament to address low wages across a range of sectors. A traditional strike would have lacked the strong political focus that Unite was seeking, as well as the media coverage. [The school strike] delivers a high profile event that allows them to make youth rates a political debate.
Like you, I have misgivings about using children in political debates. However, the crux of Unite's argument is that 16-17 year olds should be treated the same as adults, so it is reasonable for them to then treat those students the same as they would their adult members by organising them to take action to advance their interests. I certainly remember being a 16 year old with very strong political and social justice beliefs that I would willingly have gone on strike for without being manipulated. I guess for me the issue is whether you empower children (teenagers/young adults/students) to be able to think politically and independently, or if you protect them from a political world until they are 18 and then bemoan the low voter turnout of young people?"
Heheh... I'll post my own schoolyard rebellion story next week.