Internationalist response to FTA needed

- John Edmundson

The New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed on April 7 is the first free trade agreement China has made with any developed Western country. It is an historic deal for the Chinese government in its push to be fully accepted into the capitalist club.

The deal is historic for New Zealand too, for the simple reason that China’s economy is by far the largest that New Zealand has ever signed such an agreement with. With a growing middle class already numbering over 100 million, China offers a huge market for New Zealand businesses, particularly for luxury goods and services.

Reaction to the FTA has been mixed. Opponents of the agreement have ranged from the Green Party on the left, to New Zealand First on the xenophobic right. The CTU, eager to cosy up to Labour in the lead-up to an election that Labour is uncertain of winning, has come out in support of the agreement.

The critics of the FTA have claimed that the agreement in some way condones the poor human rights record of the Chinese government. This objection has become more strident with the recent Chinese crackdown on Tibetan protests.

The New Zealand government and the FTA’s supporters have countered with the point that New Zealand trades with all sorts of countries with all sorts of human rights records. In fact, government-led boycotts of countries over “human rights abuses” have a dubious record, with the independence of small, weak countries often being threatened by countries in the imperialist world on spurious grounds.

[Read more...]

A letter to our readers

Dear Spark readers and Workers Party supporters,

In the last two years the Workers Party has participated in and supported many campaigns, most notably:

* Against racist detention of Iranian migrants at Mt. Eden prison (taking arrests and legal costs)

* Stop The Killings (in the Philippines) campaign

* Hotel workers unionisation campaign

* Restaurant workers unionisation campaign

* Progressive Distribution Centre workers lockout

* Civil Rights Defence campaign after government raids on Tuhoe and activists

* Box city protests – living allowance for students (Wellington)

* Successful Save the Film School campaign at Victoria (Wellington)

* Campaign against the intervention in Aborigine communities Northern Territory

* Middle-East solidarity campaigns

* Numerous workers strikes and pickets (taking an arrest in Auckland)


We have also:

* Raised working class issues through interventions in local government elections

* Been the only left organisation to produce a monthly socialist publication

* Contributed to the monthly Workers Charter

* Held numerous education forums on topics of importance to the movements of workers and oppressed

* Put our website into an upgrade and initiated a blog

* Maintained healthy links with workers organisations and parties in other countries

* Recruited a number of new party activists

Almost all of these activities have relied totally on WP members donating their own time and hard-earned money.


Now we need your financial support as 2008 is the first time the Workers Party will be standing on the party list in a national general election. Please make a donation in one of the following ways:

* Send cash wrapped in envelope to PO BOX 10-282, Dominion Road, Auckland

* Send a cheque made out to ‘Workers Party’ to POBOX 10-282, Dominion Road, Auckland.

* Transfer money from one of your accounts to 38-9002-0817250-01

Workers Party submission to the Electoral Commission on the distribution of broadcasting monies

Main points

1.

The previous allocations of broadcasting monies was designed when there were two parties who were keen to make sure that other new parties could not compete effectively with them. A cartel has previously operated in dividing up the broadcast allocation amongst the parliamentary parties. This has previously given only a few crumbs to the parties outside Parliament. The Workers Party welcomes the change in the configuration of the Electoral Commission when determining broadcast funding.

2.

There is a very strong argument to be made that all parties contesting the list vote should receive exactly the same allocation of funding. Any other allocation is contrary to natural justice and notions of democracy and ‘level playing fields’. This is how other countries divide broadcasting funds.

3.

The Workers Party is a new party with over 550 members. We are about to register with the Electoral Commission and intend to contest the party vote and a number of electorate seats throughout the country.

[Read more...]

Public money to parties should be shared equally says Workers Party

Press release

The Workers Party wants public election funds shared equally between parties.

“Other countries such as Japan, Italy, India, Mexico and the Czech Republic have equal fund allocations”, said the party’s national organiser Daphna Whitmore, in a submission to the Electoral Commission. “It’s currently a cartel-like arrangement where Labour and National get the bulk of the funding. All parties contesting the list vote should receive exactly the same allocation of funding” she said.

She noted that the electoral rules are the same for all other parties in respect of the size of deposits and limits on campaign expenditure and so should the funding allocation. She argued favouring National and Labour is contrary to natural justice and notions of democracy and ‘level playing fields’.

At the last elections 62 percent of the $3.2 million public funds went to National and Labour.

Currently the division just gives a few crumbs to the parties outside Parliament.

Zimbabwe elections – a vote for change

- Alastair Reith

Leader of the Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai

On 29 March 2008, the people of Zimbabwe went to the polls to vote in the parliamentary and presidential elections, and on the future of their impoverished country.

There was world-wide interest in the elections and a great deal of media coverage. These elections were seen as crucial in determining whether President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party would maintain their 28-year hold on power, or whether the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would take their place.

The elections were marred by violent clashes between the supporters of various parties and factions, and were carried out in an atmosphere of extreme tension.

Official results began to trickle in on March 31. By April 2 all the results for the lower House of Assembly had been declared, with the majority faction of the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, winning 99 seats, Mugabe’s ZANU-PF winning 97, the minority MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara winning 10 seats, and one independent.

This was the first time since the end of white minority rule that Mugabe’s party had not held a majority, and it showed the level of dissatisfaction with him that exists in Zimbabwe.

[Read more...]

Who got the new minimum wage rise?

- Jared Phillips

The Council of Trade Unions and various individual unions have put out statements regarding the April 1 2008 minimum wage rise to $12 and the abolition of youth rates for most young workers.

CTU secretary Carol Beaumont said:

Twelve dollars an hour is a commitment that this Labour-led government made with the Greens and New Zealand First, and it has now fully delivered on it. And with the abolition of youth rates from April 1 also, 16- and 17-year-olds will see their minimum wage rise from $9 to $12 after 200 hours or 3 months, whichever is sooner.

Unite union led the campaign for these changes. It was demanding $12 in 2005. This demand was also coupled with the sentiment ‘2008 is far too late’.

However, the recent increase to $12 is attributable to the large SupersizeMyPay campaign led by Unite, which picked up on wage discontent amongst low-paid workers and young workers.

The abolition of youth rates was even more clearly driven by Unite plus groups of young workers, adult workers, revolutionaries, leftists, and social democrats to the left of Labour. Unite hit the youth employers, Unite and students organised by radical youth hit the public, and then, with the NDU, Unite hit and manipulated the government. That is the history of the struggle against youth rates, which have yet to be finally eradicated.

This mass organising movement was the real force behind the most dramatic pack of successive minimum wage increases in decades. Unite is now successfully organising to get workers off minimum wage, and has just signed up more than 1000 new members in KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks stores.

Solidarity needed during strikes

Press release

Criticisms of the junior doctors’ strike by Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly are ill timed and highly questionable, says Workers Party national organiser Daphna Whitmore. “Traditionally unions extend solidarity during strike action, not issue public condemnation”.

“Medical staff do not take strike action lightly, and the doctors have been negotiating since May 2007 for renewal of their employment agreement” she said.

“With severe doctor shortages in the public health sector it is not surprising the doctors are taking action” she said. “The CTU would do better to criticise the government for failing to resolve the problems in the health system.”

All life preserving services have been maintained during strike action.

CONTACT: Daphna Whitmore 0294949865 wpnz(at)clear.net.nz

Marxism 2008

Featured session topics:

Elections and the Revolutionary Movement in Nepal

Resisting Imperialism – speakers on the Philippines, Afghanistan, Cuba and Palestine

1968: The Year of Revolution

The Rise and Fall of the Polynesian Panther Party

Building a Fighting Union Movement

Debate: Should Socialists Support Open Borders?

Plus the official launch of the Workers Party’s 2008 election campaign

For more info email wpnz(at)clear.net.nz or phone Daphna (029) 494-9865

Nepal votes for radical change

- Daphna Whitmore

Some walked for miles to cast their vote. It was soon clear millions had voted for radical change in Nepal. The Maoists are by far the largest party in the Constituent Assembly and have promised to end the feudal-monarchy and to mobilise against poverty and repression.

The groundswell began in 1996 with a Maoist-led armed struggle in the rural areas. Within a decade they had established Red Zones in 80 percent of the countryside. Land reforms, campaigns for women’s equality, literacy drives and new infrastructure projects changed the physical and political landscape.

Jared Phillips from the Workers Party travelled to Nepal in 2003 and was one of the first Westerners to visit the Red Zones. He was impressed by what he saw and spoke of the women’s movement there. “It is one of the most advanced in the world today” he said. “The difference between the situation of women in the liberated areas and women in old Nepal was mind-blowing. In Kathmandu women were like slaves to the men; waiting on them hand and foot. Walking along the street women would have their eyes to the ground. What a contrast it was in the Red Zones. Women would come up and give the clench-fist salute and shake my hand saying ‘Lal Salaam’, which means red salute. They were very confident, and self-assured.”

[Read more...]

Anzac Day: what are we celebrating?

Australian soldiers in East Timor: the Anzac myth plays a major role in legitimising this sort of imperialist military intervention

Every year we are told that the young men whose lives were snuffed out at Gallipoli died gloriously for our freedom. We are told that the “liberties” we supposedly enjoy in New Zealand today exist only because of the sacrifice of these soldiers. The message is that the soldiers’ deaths were worth it, and that the cause they died for was just.

There is no nice way to say this: it’s all lies.

[Read more...]

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