“We won’t pay for their crisis!”

Mike Kay

In Europe, the capitalist crisis has hit the working class much harder than it has so far in New Zealand. But in many countries, the victims are fighting back. A single slogan has found universal appeal – “We won’t pay for their crisis!” Here follows a brief survey of some of the highlights of the past few months:

 

Britain has seen its biggest upsurge in class struggle since the start of the Great Miners Strike, 25 years ago. Waves of unofficial strikes over union-agreement coverage on construction projects spread through power station and refinery sites across the country in early February. The strikes were in defiance of the anti-union laws, and not under the control of union leaders. At the early stages of the dispute there was a worrying element of nationalism, with the slogan “British jobs for British workers” appearing on some picket lines, and picked up gleefully by the bourgeois media.

 However, as the movement gained coherence, more class-based demands came to the fore, such as: for all workers on site to be under the national union agreement for the engineering construction industry. The debate is still raging on the British left as to how much of a role anti-migrant worker sentiment played in spreading the dispute, but revolutionaries clearly have a vital task of confronting an undercurrent of nationalism, whilst relating positively to a spontaneous outpouring of working class rage. [Read more...]

Crowne Plaza hotel strike hits Brisbane Broncos

 

The Brisbane Broncos won’t be experiencing full kiwi hospitality this weekend. The team is staying at Auckland’s plush Crowne Plaza hotel, where room attendants and other staff have gone on strike.crowne-plaza-strike-019

Around twenty members of Unite union are on strike; calling for a pay rise and better working conditions. “We are underpaid and overworked”

says Unite delegate Tapa Jago. “We are fed up with the low pay and heavy workloads”.

The hotel industry is one of the lowest paid sectors, says Unite organiser Daphna Whitmore. “The starting rate is just $13 an hour” she said. “The hotel made a gross profit of $8.5 million in 2008 but claims it cannot afford to lift the wages.”

The 360 room hotel is 100 percent full this weekend with the Waratahs and Brisbane Broncos teams staying.

Film Review: Watchmen

2009, Directed by Zack Snyder

Based on the highly acclaimed graphic novel by Alan Moore, Watchmen is a story made to show superheroes be in the real world. Superheroes have been a constant target of Moore’s satire and venom. Influenced by Anarchism, Moore sees the superheroes as combinations of lonely, pathetic, psychotic, paternalistic, self-indulgent and fascist. These consistently brilliant comic’s are not just an attack on a pernicious form of culture, but an insightful metaphor about those that would claim to lead us within the current capitalist system. Politicians, generals, priests, media moguls and union bureaucrats can all be read into the cast of powerful characters that Moore has created over the years. The Watchmen graphic novel stands at the apex of this important body of work.

[Read more...]

Public Forum: Deir Yassin: The Bloody Beginnings of the Israeli State

Speaker: John Edmundson
April marks the 61s anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacres when up to 250 Palestinians, mainly old men, women and children, were massacred by Israeli forces during the establishment of the modern state of Israel. Come along and hear how and why the Israeli state was set up through the dispossession of the Palestinians, whats happening in Gaza at present and how we can support the Palestinians.

WEA 59 Gloucester Street (map)
Monday 30th of March 7:00pm

The Jobs Summit and how we respond to the Nat’s strategy

Philip Ferguson

Misjudging the Nats

Most of the left, both organised groups and the wider milieu of individual leftists, still really believe there is a fundamental difference between Labour and National.  While the Workers Party have never argued that they are exactly the same, we’re probably the only people who really believe – and act in accordance with the belief – that they are fundamentally the same.  They are liberal bourgeois parties; largely made up of urban, socially-liberal, middle class individuals.  Their goal is to manage the capitalist system.  Politically they’ve converged around liberal economics and liberal social policy, although both have some more blatantly right-wing social policies around issues like law and order.

 For much of the left, however, the Nats remain seen as some backwoods social reactionaries, a la Piggy Muldoon era.  And, economically, they are seen as unchanged since the 1990-93 period.  An especially crude representation of this view of the Nats was summed up in Socialist Aotearoa’s response to last November’s election: that a Nat-Act junta was now in power.

 We have always challenged this demonisation of the Nats and done so for three reasons:  one is that it always lets Labour off the hook; the second is that it’s just not an accurate analysis of what the National Party is in the twenty-first century.  The third reason is that it is devoid of any Marxist analysis of modern NZ capitalist society and the politics that the economic system requires.  [Read more...]

Unions can’t cave in on migrant workers – solidarity needed

 Jared Phillips

 

Almost every day union leaders across different sectors make public comments and statements with which revolutionary socialists disagree. Often we publicly oppose them. Sometimes it is completely necessary to oppose them.

 In response to the economic downturn the Engineers Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) leadership has started an information campaign declaring that the recession has brought crunch-time to workers. But it’s not just crunch-time for the workers locked into the struggle for bread. It’s also crunch-time for the union leaderships. Will they stress unity and look to generalise class resistance, or will they identify less worthy sections of workers to be first on the chop-up blocks as part of a crisis-management process brokered by union bosses and ‘the’ bosses?

 On March 17 a major New Zealand newspaper – The Press – carried the headline ‘Get rid of migrant workers first: unions’, the TV1 website carried the story ‘Union: Kiwis before migrants in hard times’, and a popular weeknight current affairs show, Campbell Live, ended a segment with Andrew Little – leader of the EPMU – stating ‘We are saying that where the employer is left to choose between New Zealand workers and migrant workers on short term visas then they ought to favour New Zealand workers’.

  [Read more...]

OPEN BORDERS OR LEFT NATIONALISM?

History
by Don Franks

Since its formation the Workers Party of New Zealand has recognised that immigration controls are essentially a boss’s device to control workers. Accordingly, the Workers Party has always stood firmly in opposition to immigration controls. Point 4 of our 5-point programme spells it out in these words:

“For working class unity and solidarity – equality for women, Maori and other ethnic minorities and people of all sexual orientations and identities; open borders and full rights for migrant workers”.

Some people see our policy of open borders as extremist. Others realise that a truly internationalist position can’t settle for anything less. Genuine socialists insist on workers absolute freedom to travel and take up residence wherever they choose. [Read more...]

Obama – managing the US war effort

John Edmundson

During the lead-up to the 2008 US election, Barack Obama made much of his plans to end the war in Iraq. His bold declaration – that “on my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war”. Across the world, many people pinned their hopes on this promise.

Obama’s policy was never really about ending America’s imperialist war policy. It was always about managing the US war effort more effectively. [Read more...]

Rat Patrol and Workers Rights Campaign – fight unfair sackings

by Michael Ashton

An online survey commissioned by the New Zealand Business Council in February found that 1 in 5 people in the workforce fear that they will lose their jobs in 2009. Thirty-nine percent of those indicating they fear job loss are earners of between $20,001 and $30,000 a year, meaning that this category feels most insecure.

The introduction this month of the 90-day probationary employment legislation will compound the growing anxiety amongst working people and especially the working poor. A stand is being made through the Rat Patrol, a group of people who have undertaken to put pickets and a giant inflatable rat outside the premises of employers who unfairly dismiss workers in their first 90-days. [Read more...]

A step forward

from The Spark March 2009

Finally, nearly a decade into the 21st century women will be legally entitled to breastfeeding breaks at work. From 1 April employers will have to allow women this right and provide a suitable space.  The breaks are unpaid – unless otherwise agreed – so breastfeeding women will be penalised by loss of wages or having to extend their hours at work.

On its own the law may not deliver much of an improvement for women trying to juggle work and childcare. Few workplaces have childcare facilities, and few are very family friendly.

Despite these shortcomings, allowing breastfeeding at work is a step towards recognising the needs of working mothers.

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