WP-Labour Party debate, Friday June 3, Trades Hall, Hamilton

The office of Labour MP Sue Moroney has confirmed that she will be joining a debate on the moot ‘Should working people support Labour this election year?’ Jared Phillips of the Workers Party will be arguing ‘against’ from a far-left perspective and Sue will be arguing in favour.

The structure of the debate will be that each speaker will have 10 minutes to present, followed by 5 minutes each to respond to one another, followed by questions and contributions from the audience.

Sue Moroney is the 10th-ranked candidate on Labour’s party list for the upcoming election.

The Workers Party requested the debate which will be the opening item of its annual national conference from June 3-5 in Hamilton. The full schedule is viewable at http://workerspartynz.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/full-shedule-leaflet-image1.png

Report from Take the power back! , national conference of Resistance

The national conference of Resistance was held May 6th – 8th at Redfern Community Centre, Sydney. Heleyni Pratley, a member of the Wellington Branch of the Workers Party, attended on behalf of Unite Union. Her following report will be published in the June issue of The Spark.

Resistance is the youth wing of the Socialist Alliance (Australia). Topics covered during the conference included Palestine, uprisings in the Middle East, refugee detention in Australia, and the environment. The conference began with an acknowledgment that we were on stolen Aboriginal land. Around 100 people attended this conference from all over Australia. Guests included Matthew Cassel from Chicago, former assistant editor of Electronic Intifada; Antony Loewenstein, a Sydney-based independent freelance journalist and author of the book My Israel Question; and Ravindran, a youth leader from the Socialist Party of Malaysia. Overall there was a positive welcoming environment, which is important for young people to be able to debate and ask questions freely. The workshops over the weekend echoed this sentiment. [Read more...]

Defend MMP in the 2011 referendum

This article by Jared Phillips will appear in the June 2011 issue of The Spark

This year New Zealand electors will vote in a national referendum, held as part of the general elections, asking them firstly to indicate whether they want to change from MMP, and secondly to indicate their preferred electoral system. The other options are First Past the Post (FPP), Preferential Voting (PV), Single Transferable Vote (STV), and Supplementary Member (SM). If a majority votes in favour of retaining MMP that decision will be binding. However, if a majority votes against retaining MMP, there will be a further referendum in 2014 whereby electors will decide between MMP and whichever alternative procedure gains the most support in the 2011 referendum. If a new system is selected in 2014 it will come into effect at the 2017 election.

Real advanced democracy can only be imposed and administered by the majority of working people through a workers‘ government. In the current period though, in which the working class has clearly not yet recovered organisationally or politically from the onslaught of neo-liberalism, it is important to ensure that the electoral system offering the most democratic electoral procedure prevails. From this point of view it is in the best interests of the working people and oppressed groups to retain MMP.

[Read more...]

Review – No ordinary deal: Unmasking the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement

No Ordinary Deal: Unmasking the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement
Jane Kelsey (ed.)
Bridget Williams Books, 2010
Reviewed by Mike Kay, Auckland member of Workers Party and member of The Spark editorial board

This collection of essays brings together a number of different perspectives on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) currently being negotiated behind closed doors between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and the United States. The policy framework is still largely neo-liberal, despite that economic model’s credibility taking a knock since the Global Financial Crisis.

Recent US-brokered trade deals, such as its December 2005 agreement with Peru, contain clauses to prohibit “expropriation and measures ‘tantamount to expropriation’, with the exception of a ‘public purpose’ (which carries a right to full compensation), and provides investors with due process protection and the right to receive a fair market value for property in the event of expropriation.” (p.74) This could have far-reaching consequences for any future socialist or progressive government.

But will the TPPA lead to a more liberal immigration policy with respect to the US’s TPP partners?  Lori Wallach and Todd Tucker comment: “on a bipartisan basis, leaders of the congressional committee that sets immigration policy… have repeatedly insisted that no future trade pacts provisions may contain visa or other immigration policies. A TPPA with immigration provision would be dead on arrival in Congress.” (p.67) [Read more...]

Press Release: Double-Down Burger Increases Workload for KFC Staff

Workers say KFC’s infamous Double Down – a “bunless burger” consisting of chicken fillets, bacon, cheese and a special sauce – is increasing their workload.

In Wellington alone, KFC sales increased 100% on the first day of the new promotion, and the product sold out for the first two days running. However, crew-members say the increased productivity has not paid off. Throughout the country there have been instances of customer abuse resulting from sold out product.

“The company’s making massive profits but it’s just making our lives harder,” KFC cook and Workers Party member Ian Anderson says.

Because of the hugely increased demand, many workers are giving up their breaks or working on their day off. “I’m used to being overworked and underpaid,” Ian says, “But when the work-load goes up the poverty wages stay the same.”

“The burger’s also not that amazing.”

Book review: Privatising Parts

Privatising parts

Richard Meros

Lawrence and Gibson 2011

Reviewed by Joel Cosgrove, Workers Party Wellington Branch

“Who better than students to teach teachers what students ought to be taught?”, so asks Richard Meros in his new fiction Privatising Parts. Quite simply this is a beautifully crafted piece of satire. On the surface this is a stinging critique of the far-right dwellers floating far out in the political stratosphere, think Muriel Newman, Roger Kerr etc. But this is not just a lampooning of the free-market logic taken to its extreme, it’s a satire of the underlying free-market logic itself.

For those unfamiliar with the work of Meros, he is the author of a number of independently produced books (so independent, that he takes part in the printing and binding himself). On the Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark Taking Me as Her Young Lover, and Beggars and Choosers: The Complete Written Correspondence between Creative New Zealand and Richard Meros volume one are amongst a slew of self-published titles. [Read more...]

Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill: A Challenge to Democratic Norms

This article by guest writer Lindsay Breach will appear in the June issue of The Spark

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a trade agreement between New Zealand, eight other nations, and the United States. Of particular concern to this article, is that the agreement promises to introduce a strongly U.S. influenced intellectual property regime to New Zealand. Already, this influence has been felt in the shaping of copyright legislation as evidenced by leaked cables indicating the industry is willing to pay $533,000 to fix “key gaps in intellectual property rights enforcement”. The lesson: it appears our legislation can be bought.

Wednesday, April the 13th was a black day for democracy in New Zealand. The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill was rushed through under urgency, which had been previously reserved for Canterbury earthquake related legislation. This Bill had been postponed due to previous public outcry and was highly contentious law. It seemed particularly insulting to Christchurch residents, the victims of the February 22nd Earthquake, because their suffering and the nation’s state of emergency had seemingly been trivialised.

The Bill introduces a ‘guilt upon accusation’ infringement notice three-strike scheme. This scheme dresses up a civil action, between two parties, as a criminal offense. The copyright holder can request an Internet Service Provider to send an infringement notice, with or without good cause for suspicion, to an account holder. After three strikes, the account holder can be taken to the Copyright tribunal. The burden is on the account holder to prove their innocence against the allegation. [Read more...]

Hamilton – North Africa/Middle-East solidarity meeting report

Three of the speakers clockwise from top-left: Josh Glue, Maher Elbohouty, Mohammad Tellawey.

Tonight a small audience of twelve people bore mid-week stormy weather and attended a meeting organised by Hamilton Left Initiative which called for solidarity with the ongoing struggles in North Africa and the Middle-East.

The first speaker was Cameron Harper, a Waikato University student, who presented a historical background to the uprisings. This set the tone for more detailed analysis by two guest speakers and Workers Party member Josh Glue.

Harper was followed by Egyptian speaker Maher Elbohouty. A lecturer and PhD student in engineering, he provided an interesting eye-witness account of the revolution in Egypt that included photos as well as other footage. Elbohouty gave what he jokingly called ‘my own analysis’ of the upheaval in which – amongst other things – he pointed out the role of the internet and Facebook in spreading the rebellion and also the sympathy of the masses with the plight of Palestinian people. He also emphasised the role and involvement of women and illustrated this with pictures of women in both traditional and non-traditional wear.

Mohammad Tellawey is a Palestinian who works as a medical doctor in Hamilton. The theme of his presentation was the definition of terrorism and state terrorism. He began by discussing the definition of the word terrorism and in particular he outlined definitions as according to UN conventions and then drew attention to how the actions of some states meet those definitions. With reference to the Israel Defence Force’s 2009 assault on Gaza he overviewed Israel’s behaviour and commented that terrorism can be partly defined in terms of the questions ‘Are the victims civilian or army?’, ‘What was the method?’, and ‘What was the aim?’. He also concluded that in his opinion as a doctor, the people in Gaza are under constant psychological stress from Israel’s military and economic actions against them.

Josh Glue was the final listed speaker of the evening. He focussed on the clear class aspects of the uprisings. First he gave emphasis to the self-immolation protest by graduate student Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia against government forces which would not allow him to make a living as a street vendor. Glue then went on to discuss the elements of working class and union action – including union formation – in Egypt. He spoke of the role of the secret police and how masses had attacked the offices of the secret police and seized documents pertaining to previous instances of torture committed against pro- democracy activists. Finally Glue posed why US intervention is negative in Libya and noted the real stress that the uprisings are placing on imperialism in the region.

 

Because of the relatively small turnout at the meeting the evening took shape more as an educational forum than as a broad public meeting. Afterwards there was time for closer discussion between audience and speakers, and those in attendance formed general agreement to build more local activity on such issues.

Hamilton meeting for solidarity with North Africa / Middle East uprisings

Workers Party members have been involved in organising this meeting which will include a summary of the class aspects of the uprisings, an eye witness account – with unpublished photos from Egypt - by a post-gradaute student at Waikato University, and a presentation with a focus on implications for Palestinian liberation given by the Hamilton organiser of the PFLP solidarity campaign.

Read the May issue of The Spark here

May issue of The Spark

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