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Campaigning in a Cost-of-Living Crisis – Then and Now

The current economic situation is grim. Trips to the supermarket get more and more expensive and the Right seems emboldened in the face of people’s misery. Although these times are difficult, they’re not unprecedented. Activists in the past have organised, fought and won changes that made sure people had access to what they needed in times of crisis and soaring costs of living.

The Labour History Project is organising a Symposium to bring past struggles into conversation with current organising. The Symposium will look at a range of campaigns to improve people’s lives in a cost-of-living crisis: bargaining for higher wages, fighting for a better social welfare system, opposing price and rent increases, and campaigning for universal services. Each session will include speakers who have knowledge of historical campaigns and activists who are currently campaigning on the issue. This Symposium will build connections between people interested in fighting for a better world, demonstrate that it is possible to fight and win, and offer a left-wing response to a crisis that the Right is trying to take advantage of.

The timetable is also available in Word:

Event Details

Saturday, March 18, 9.30am-4.30pm
Loaves and Fishes, 2 Hill St, Thorndon
Register here – so we have numbers and dietary requirements for catering

In order to make this event as accessible as possible there are three different options:

1. Well-waged: $50 (we also welcome donations to make the event accessible for others)
2. Feeling the cost of living crisis: $20
3. Low waged or unwaged: Free

Either pay through internet banking or bring cash on the day (information about our internet banking at the registration link).

There will be four sessions – each will have both current and historic perspectives on a different approach to organise in response to the cost of living crisis:

Fight for wage increases: Including Tali Williams on Fair Pay Agreements, Lyndy McIntyre on the Living Wage, Gordon Anderson on award wage bargaining, and Toby Boraman on the 1970s strike wave

Fighting for liveable benefits: Including Brooke Stanley Pao on the liveable incomes campaign, Tony Simpsons on fighting for an unemployment benefit, and Sue Bradford on fighting cuts in the 1990s.

Fighting price and rent rises: Ashok Jacob on Renters United, Elinor Chisholm on 1970s tenant organising, and Cybèle Locke on the Campaign against Rising Prices.

Fighting for universal services: Mika Hervel on Free Fares, Esther Willing on universal Access to healthcare, and Barbara Brookes on the establishment of free hospital

Venue information: Loaves and Fishes has flat access from Hill St and wide doors. There is a disabled toilet which is non-gendered as well as gendered toilets.

The car park is used for a farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, but there is street parking, including disabled car parks.

We will bring an air quality monitor and the venue will not be overcrowded and social distancing will be possible.