December 27, 2009
Reviewed by Marika Pratley The Spark Dec 2009/ Jan 2010
In the album ‘Safer Communities Together’ Blues Don Franks has successfully interwoven politically revolutionary words with his compositional abilities. Recorded in a student flat in Aro Valley, Wellington, ‘Safer Communities’ is comprised – musically – of a wide range of instruments which Don plays, including acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, and blues harp. There are also contributions by many other Wellington artists (bass, backing vocals, lead guitar, drums).
Don picks up from the tradition of political folk, but his work is distinctive because it discusses contemporary issues directly relevant to people in New Zealand today. It is an important historical catalogue of not only the recent Labour government, but the transition into the new National government which took over in 2008, and the various struggles that activists, workers, and unions have had to fight in that time period. Some songs are written for specific pickets or issues (such as One more Thursday in Black) whereas some are more general in their detest of both Labour and National (I hate the Labour Government, and Fuck John Key). Many of his songs have hints of tongue-and-cheek humour, such as the wedding march riff at the beginning of Talking Civil Union, making it a very entertaining album to listen to. Read the rest of this entry »
December 21, 2009
A group of activists from Aotearoa Climate Camp ’09 today blockaded the stock exchange in opposition to carbon trading, a scheme which allows finance capitalists to benefit from environmental degradation. Protestors chanted the slogan, “Resist! Resist! Fight the capitalists!”
Activists were detained by the police force, then released without charges.
Climate Change Leaflet attached.
December 19, 2009
The Ballad of Bantam Billy: The political life and times of Bill Perkins Jack Perkins
Review by Don Franks The Spark Dec 2009 – Jan 2010
My most entertaining and memorable read this year has been a self published family account titled “The Ballad of Bantam Billy”. The author is Jack Perkins, Bill Perkins’ son. “Bantam Billy” was the nickname Lancashire coal miners gave to a short statured young workmate who became – and remained for life- an uncompromising fighter for socialism. “ If dad sensed any challenge or disrespect for his beliefs he was instantly and fearlessly outspoken. There were never any beg-your-pardons in his outbursts. I remember a bus trip when some unsuspecting passenger slighted the Soviet Union. Dad’s volcanic response turned heads, including the driver’s who brought the crowded vehicle to a temporary halt while things calmed down.” Read the rest of this entry »
December 18, 2009
On December the 11th 1967, in the wake of the Arab defeat in the 6 day war, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was founded with the catch cry “Resistance until Victory”. On the 42nd anniversary of its founding the PFLP released a statement calling for an official announcement from the Palestinian Leadership to declare the “utter failure of the ‘negotiations’ and the entire Oslo process, the reliance on the United States and the so-called roadmap”. Recent opinion polls would indicate that this position is supported by over 70 percent of the population in the West Bank and Gaza, who believe that OSLO has either harmed, or made no difference to the Palestinian cause. A clear condemnation, from Palestinians, of over a decade of negotiation with the occupier.
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December 15, 2009
Byron Clark The Spark December 2009
At the end of October parliament voted 69 to 53 to send the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment Bill, which contains a number of proposed changes to ACC, to select committee. The National Party initially had trouble getting together the numbers, with ACT insisting the changes didn’t go far enough. Despite some initial concerns however, the Maori Party eventually fell into line, with the bizarre sounding justification, “We know that Maori have consistently had less access to ACC entitlements than other groups, under existing legislation. While this Bill would further restrict entitlements, we are particularly interested in hearing how the scheme may be altered to address the underlying bias to Maori.”
Many of the changes have already been met with strong public protest. New guidelines that would require sexual abuse victims to be diagnosed with a mental illness under the US Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Version 4 before they can receive counselling led to rallies in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, each attracting 200 people. A smaller protest also took place in Dunedin. Read the rest of this entry »
December 14, 2009
Text of the Workers Party leaflet for New Zealand Climate Camp 2010, by Ian Anderson.
This leaflet is for people who’ve figured out that climate change is happening, and that it’s driven in large part by industrial greenhouse gas emissions. If you’re here, you want to stop it in its tracks.
Despite the attempts of industrial capitalists to distort the flow of information, the findings of climatologists remain consistent. Since the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century, greenhouse gas emissions have rapidly increased, driving a long-term process of global warming.
Resources were sucked out of the countryside and the developing world to fuel economic growth, while workers were packed into polluted and cramped living spaces. This transformation continues to this day, as capitalists seek new blood and soil to develop; from Iraq to Mount Aspiring.
This leaves one central question: what is to be done? It is possible to match human and environmental need. We just have to figure out how.
Read the rest of this entry »
December 13, 2009
The following article by Mike Kay overviews industrial activity in New Zealand in 2009 and summarises some of the highlights.
The Statistics NZ Survey of Working Life (March 2008) identified 30.1% of all employees as union members. Female employees were more likely to be union members than males (33.0% and 27.4%, respectively). Only 17.4% of casual employees were unionised. By industry, union membership was highest for those who worked in education (58.5%), health and community services (52.0%) and other services (42.8 %). Professionals (46.1%) and those who worked as plant and machine operators and assemblers in their main job (41.5%) had the highest level of union membership.
There has been a strong downward trend for work stoppages in the recent period, by every measure:
Source: Statistics NZ Work Stoppages: June 2009 quarter
Although the year to June figures excludes a number of recent major disputes towards the end of 2009, they represent the lowest number of stoppages in 18 years. The transport, postal and warehousing industry was responsible for most stoppages, significantly ahead of the next most militant sector, manufacturing. Undeniably, we are still in the midst of a protracted downturn in the class struggle, although some notable exceptions to the trend may point the way to a revival of militancy in the coming year. Read the rest of this entry »
December 8, 2009
Picket outside ‘Positive Airflow Limited’ call centre on Wednesday 9th December, Home Street (behind Kent Terrace), Wellington at 12.30pm.
Positive Airflow are responsible for taking calls and advertising for HRV, the kiwi owned Heat Recovery Ventilation company, they are also responsible for sacking staff under the new 90 day ‘fire at will bill’.
A Unite member who had previously worked full time in the fast food industry contacted her union organiser and told the story of how she was fired, with no explanation and only 7 days notice. She had quit her previous full time job and now finds her self in the cue at the WINZ office as a direct result of the National backed anti worker bill.
It has since come to light that this isn’t a one off at this site with a number of people coming forward with similar stories – some have been sacked with no notice at all!
This kind of practice can not be tolerated. Unite will be holding a picket outside the premises and will make sure that the company’s neighbours and wider community know that this is NOT a good place to work. Come and help us make some noise!
December 7, 2009
Thousands of Maoists held a torch procession on December the 5th in preparation for a nationwide Banda (closure) the following day. The action was called in retaliation of an incident in Kailali district on Friday. Police had used deadly force in removing thousands of Maoist aligned landless squatters from forest land.
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