Video: Christchurch campaign launch

Below are the speeches given by Christchurch Central candidate Byron Clark and Christchurch East candidate Paul Hopkinson at the official launch of the Christchurch Workers Party 2008 election campaign last month.

Byron speaks on the problem with the ‘mainstream’ parties, and Paul on the alternative offered by the Workers Party.

Spark Audio: Three talks on the Middle East

The following talks recorded at forums in the first half of 2008 have just been added to the Spark Audio archive.

John Edmundson
What future for Palestine?

Phil Ferguson
Iraq five years on

Nick Scullin
The present war in Afghanistan

A Marxist critique of Postmodernism

- Byron Clark


This article was originally published in the University of Canterbury student magazine Canta under the title
‘Minimum wage is an objective truth: How postmodernism hurts the working class’.

If you’re an Arts student then theres no doubt that you will have encountered the term ‘postmodernism’ at some point during your time at university, perhaps though you haven’t been given an explanation of this school of thought or perhaps more likely you’ve had it explained to you by ten different people- probably in twelve different ways. Its this confusion on what postmodernism actually is that makes any attempt at critiquing it so difficult. In the intellectual discussions that can be found outside campus cafés one arguing against postmodernism will soon hear from their opponent “no thats not what postmodernism is!” at which point the discussion becomes a frustrating argument about semantics usually ending with someone dismissively scoffing “bloody undergrads” and walking away. No doubt this article will draw similar responses, however I’m going to attempt to define postmodernism as accurately as I can, based on the impressions of it I have gained in the course of my university education, as well as though my own study, and then outline my criticism of it. Let me first state that if you’re inclined to use the word ‘postmodern’ to describe architecture (indeed this was the original use of the word), a piece of art, music or your latest haircut, then my argument is not with you. Refer to contemporary art however you like, and it doesn’t worry me, my argument here is against the philosophy of postmodernism, a collection of ideas that I see as having negative consequences in our society.

[Read more...]

Women’s Rights 2008

(Boobs on Bikes organiser Steve Crow argues that the issue is a woman’s right to bare her breasts in public)

Women of New Zealand, I believe
You owe some gratitude to Steve
Since Rogernomics hit the fan
It’s since been for himself each man
Each to his own and stuff thy neighbour
Under National or Labour
Once we marched fraternally
Now its all just me me me
Through these weary winter nights
Who’s seeking to advance your rights?

Here’s someone who gives a shit
Standing up to do his bit
His bit and then a wee bit more
To win that right you’ve long yearned for
The right to cling with fishnet knees
In bracing ten or twelve degrees
On someone’s thousand cc Harley
With each goosefleshed naked charlie
On display to be assessed:
” I like those sticky up ones best!”
” Hers are much too big and saggy”
and other comment just as daggy

How many a sleepless night
Did you pray “God ­ grant me this right!”
How many a weary dreary year
Did you trudge on, with the fear
That your daughter and her heir
Might not ever live to bare?

Let housework, childcare, equal pay
Take a back seat yet one more day
Ignore the wind and clasp the seat
Enjoying your right to be raw meat.

Don Franks

Open borders – unite workers!

While capital, commodities and rich people get to travel more freely around the world, workers’ freedom to move is increasingly restricted. Big companies can move freely to where labour is cheaper, for instance, but workers can’t move freely to where wages are higher. The Labour government favours free trade agreements, for instance, while imposing new racist immigration restrictions.

It’s in the interests of workers to support each other and make common cause for the maximum freedom possible. Come along to this workers’ forum and find out more about Labour’s new immigration controls and how we can fight them..

Christchurch Workers Party forum

7.15pm, Monday, August 25

Workers Educational Association (WEA), 59 Gloucester Street

Prohibition is not the answer!

The extension of the Wellington City Council’s liquor ban into Aro St and Aro Park is not the answer, says Wellington Central Workers Party candidate Don Franks.

“Banning alcohol in public is not the answer” says Franks

“This is a class issue. As more and more people find it harder to buy a drink in the pub, they find somewhere that doesn’t charge them an arm and a leg.”

“Mayor Kerry Prendergast says that the bylaw will only affect those who display anti-social behaviour. Public drinking is not anti-social behaviour.” says Franks.

“It’s true, there is an issue of homeless people in the parks,” said Franks.

“Many of those people will never afford housing at current costs”.

“We live in an alienating capitalist system, which actually restricts people’s choice”, states Franks.

“If I get elected to represent Wellington Central I’ll restore the option of half a dozen public bars with plastic jugs of cheap draft, damp sticky carpets, bar tables you can lean on and a covered part with a heater somewhere where you can smoke. There will be quart bottles, meat raffles, an old upright piano, a pie warmer and a guitar behind the bar.”

A cup of tea

Don Franks, Workers Party candidate for Wellington Central opening 5 minute address to Aro Valley candidates forum August 9th 2008:

I’d like to try and be constructive and see if there’s some stuff we all have in common.

Something we all probably have in common is enjoying a cup of tea. On many occasions, there’s nothing better to pick you up or settle you down. First thing in the morning, or after putting in some hours on the job, or later on at night. What’s that old saying ­ “the cup that cheers but not inebriates”. Well, of course a bit of inebriation is definitely called for sometimes.

However, when you feel like a little something, but need to keep going with a clear head and a steady hand it’s hard to beat a nice cup of tea. A cup of tea is such an ordinary routine part of our lives that we don’t think there’s anything all that special about it when we make one. But actually it’s quite a big deal.
[Read more...]

People of Zimbabwe between a rock and a hard place

- John Edmundson

The disastrous election period in Zimbabwe has thrust that country back into the media spotlight over the last few months, with the latest big news being the veto in the UN Security Council of a package of sanctions being sponsored by the United States. Reports of voter intimidation have been added to the ongoing hostile media reports of land occupations by Mugabe cronies, financial mismanagement and economic collapse.

The story of Zimbabwe’s slide into poverty is, of course, more complex than the picture we tend to receive in the media, as is the perceived solution of Western-led international sanctions.

There can be no doubt that the election process in Zimbabwe was rigged by the ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front) party led by independence war hero Robert Mugabe. The lead-up to the 29 March 2008 harmonised local government, parliamentary, senatorial and presidential elections saw widespread reports of intimidation, while the vote-counting was inexplicably delayed. Finally a narrow win to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was announced in the parliamentary poll, but in the presidential election it was declared that a runoff election would be required – a result that was immediately challenged by the MDC.

The new poll was set for 27 June but in the intervening period the MDC claimed that over a hundred of their activists had been killed and many more subjected to various forms of intimidation. MDC Presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, who had himself been beaten and arrested several times during the campaign, withdrew from the contest and took refuge in the Dutch Embassy for nine days.

[Read more...]

How to stop National’s threat

- Don Franks

Under the guise of “giving young, inexperienced people or new immigrants a better chance at a job”, National is proposing a new restriction on workers.

“We will introduce a 90-day trial period for new staff, by agreement between the employer and employee, in businesses with fewer than 20 people,” National party leader John Key announced in a 24 July press release.

During this 90-day trial period, either party may terminate the employment relationship for performance without a personal grievance claim being brought.

National’s proposal should be rejected by all workers and fair-minded people.

The personal grievance procedure is no fail-safe protection against unfair dismissal, but it does provide a narrow avenue for workers to contest injustice. National’s election promise to deny new staff access to their day in court would move the bar even further in the employer’s favour.

National’s industrial proposals have been roundly condemned by trade unionists. NZ Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly says: “Cuts in workers’ rights and entitlements and privatisation are all this party has to offer to date.”

She says National’s industrial policy “really will clarify for workers and their families which parties have their interests at stake”, concluding that “instead of supporting the current approach balancing employer and employee interests, [National] is trying to drag us backwards”.

Helen Kelly is quite right to condemn National’s anti-worker 90-day trial. But she ignores the fact that National promises to retain significant current labour laws which she supports, and will:

*continue to allow union access to workplaces with an employer’s consent, which cannot be unreasonably withheld

*continue to support the social partnership with Business NZ and the CTU to work together on issues of mutual interest

*retain the Mediation Service.

[Read more...]

The environment – what do Workers Party candidates say?

- Byron Clark, Workers Party candidate for Christchurch Central.

As a Workers Party candidate in this year’s election, I am often asked for my opinion on environmental issues. These are important to me as a socialist, as environmental issues are also class issues.

Those who are suffering (and will potentially suffer most) from environmental damage are the poor and oppressed, especially those in the third world. With the climate warming, you get tropical diseases like malaria spreading further north and south, and rising sea levels causing island nations to depopulate, creating refugees. Changes in ocean temperature mean changes in fish migration and breeding, affecting what is a food source for a lot of people; and people world-wide, including in the first world, are currently suffering from rising food prices and lack of decent drinking water caused by drought.

[Read more...]

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