Socialism 2012: Class struggle in Aotearoa

6-8pm Friday 1st June (opening night)
Newtown Community & Cultural Centre

The War on Women, NZ edition: Beneficiaries and Contraception

This article was written by Anne Russell, originally published at Scoop.co.nz and reprinted in the June issue of The Spark. 

Sue Bradford will speak on beneficiary rights on the opening night of Socialism 2012.

The battle over publicly-funded contraception in the US has led to many women breaking ranks with the Republican Party, who like to deny women autonomy over their bodies. At first glance, the National Party seems to be moving in the opposite direction from its US counterpart. The government recently announced proposals to put public funding towards contraception for beneficiaries. Not for poor people, mark you although many low-income earners also struggle to afford contraception—just for people who receive state support. While easy universal access to contraception would be a splendid idea, this particular policy does not appear to have autonomous women’s best interests at heart. Indeed, it arguably plays a part in controlling the reproductive lives of female beneficiaries.

While US Republicans apparently want all women to have more babies, National wants only certain women to stop reproducing. Minster for Social Development Paula Bennett said on TVNZ’s Q&A last June that while she was a fan of long-term reversible contraception for beneficiaries, “I don’t think we’re quite at compulsory sort of stages,”—as though it is a stage that might be reached at some point. The implication is alarming; as one person put it on Facebook: “The state deciding who is allowed to have children: historically, not awesome.” [Read more...]

The challenges facing student radicals

Joel Cosgrove, former VUWSA president and Workers Party member, will be presenting on The University as Factory for Socialism 2012.

While Auckland University Students’ Association has been voluntary since 1999, this is the first year for most other universities under this new context. The experience of money-grabbing which occurred at Auckland is being repeated around the country, as institutions use the law change to rack up peripheral fees, with relative impunity.

In an effort to bypass the 5% fee maxima cap on tuition fees, student levies on peripheral services i.e. student health, gym, student services etc have been raised (often doubled) over the past few years. At Victoria University the Student Services Levies for a full-time student (including the VUWSA levy) has risen from $407.50 in 2009 to $650 in 2012 (excluding the VUWSA levy, the SSL was $275.60 in 2009). Speaking bluntly at a student forum in 2009 then Chancellor Tim Beaglehole said “There is no other income that we have control of.” When the University was questioned under the official information act on the amount of effort spent lobbying the government about the ever increasing level of fees (something that raises much hang-wringing each year at council, while they simultaneously raise said fees) between 2005-2007, their efforts had consisted of three letters to the Minister of Tertiary Education. It is unlikely that the situation has changed.

Yet while the money side of the discussion of VSM is important, it is the politics of VSM which are primary in the discussion. Politically the situation has changed very little in the transition, because to a large extent that political sovereignty has been ceded willingly. The only change is a technical one in that now that voluntary relinquishment of autonomy has now been legally recognized. The students’ association can now not back out, where hypothetically it could when it was willingly ceding its independence.

The mentality therefore is unchanged. At VUW, the Student Union (a confusing name which covers the university’s recreational and non-academic service provision) is angling to take over clubs funding, and has just released an “independent” review which confirms it. This is a side issue within a minor department of the university and one of resource control and small castle building. Whether the Students’ Association controls club funding or not the university calls the shots. [Read more...]

Homophobia still a real issue in New Zealand

Article by Robert Read, a Workers Party supporter based in Christchurch.

James Froch will present a talk on Queer Liberation and Socialism at Socialism 2012.

On Saturday the 26th of May 2012 at around 7pm an 18 year old, Zakk Davies, was walking home after dropping some friends off at The Viaduct. He was approached by three males.

These males began to flirt with Zakk which he believes is because they had thought he was a female. Even though he was dressed like any other teen male on a Saturday night in jeans and a t-shirt, once they realized he obviously wasn’t they very quickly became aggressive towards him. They began to punch him until he fell to the ground at which point they proceeded to punch and kick him mainly in the abdomen.
He remembers, while they were kicking and punching him, they were shouting some of the most disgusting homophobic comments he had ever heard. He recalled that they were “Calling me disgusting and a burden on society”, but the worst comment he can remember was that they “wish they could do to the gays what Hitler did to the Jews”.

At some point they were kicking him in the head and he must have been knocked-out, as he awoke 3 and a half hours later in gutter. Bloody, crying and bruised he got up still not sure entirely of what happened and walked to the next place he knew would feel safe, his friend’s place.
He has posted on his facebook account a picture of his face, battered and bruised, with this statement.
“I am uploading this not for sympathy, but as a warning to the gay community. When in town at night, always stay as a group because homophobia is still around, and there are people out there that want to hurt you. Thank you to the 3 guys that decided to beat me up last night, for taking it out on my body and avoiding my face.”

His facebook profile has been flooded with messages of support and outrage that this is still happening not only around the world but in our own back yard. Zakk said his “spirit will never be broken” and that he strives to use his experience to help the gay community.

A comment from Gay Bi NZ online community personality Ricardo Edwards says “It saddens and angers me greatly that atrocities such as this continue against members of the gay community. Against members of the HUMAN RACE. This incident has further fuelled a desire that has already been burning in me for some time, and that is to rid our beautiful country of the hatred and bigotous attitude that still lingers in ugly pockets throughout our society. Our goal, our dream, and it WILL be our reality. True equality.”

Patty Boy and Zakk d’Larte performing at Out in the Square in Wellington

Socialism 2012: eco-socialism in Australasia

1pm Saturday 3rd June
Newtown Community & Cultural Centre

Industrial news

International support for Tally’s AFFCO workers

Global support for the struggle of meat workers at Tally’s owned AFFCO plants is grew when the International Union of Food Workers passed a resolution of support and solidarity from their Geneva Congress last month. A resolution supported the workers has also been passed by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). 450 workers were locked out and a further 700 are engaged in strike action in a dispute lasting the better part of three months.

Eight migrant workers detained in northland

After a joint operation with the police Immigration New Zealand has detained eight migrant workers; seven Thai nationals and one Malaysian. The workers came to New Zealand under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme but were allegedly working in breach of their visas. While their former New Zealand employers could face fines up to $50,000 the workers themselves will likely be deported.

Employment law changes announced

The government has announced changes to the Employment Relations Act which will mean that employers are not required to conclude a collective agreement, and will be able to opt out of multi-employer bargaining. A provision that sees new employees covered by a collective agreement for the first 30 days of their employment will also be removed. The changes have been roundly criticised by the union movement.

55 manufacturing jobs go in Auckland

55 jobs are gone with the closure of Auckland based tube and wire products manufacturer, Wire by Design. The company had been embroiled in a three year long legal wrangle with Transit New Zealand over a compensation claim for the relocation of its factory following Transit’s building of the Onehunga motorway extension. During that time Wire by Design had fallen behind with his tax payments to Inland Revenue and went into voluntary liquation. The EMPU which covered workers at the business says that the government is at fault as the job losses have resulted from government mismanagement.

Foreign charter vessels banned

In a surprise move the government has banned foreign charter vessels from fishing in New Zealand waters. It has legislated a ban that will be transitioned over the next four years. Last year all 32 Indonesian crew on the Korean owned Oyang 75 walked off the fishing vessel in Lyttelton alleging sexual and physical abuse. The Oyang 70, owned by the same company, had earlier sunk claiming the lives of 6 fishermen. Labour conditions in some instances are akin to slavery on some vessels. Allegations of illegal fish dumping have also been made against foreign charter vessels.

Iwi step in to break Talleys-AFFCO meatworks lock-out

Byron Clark

After more than three months of hardship for over 5000 people the Talleys-AFFCO lockout has been brought to an end through pressure by iwi leaders. Sections of the trade union movement and key individuals within it were able to generate support from a majority of iwi leaders in the impacted areas where the workforces were often than 70 percent Maori.

The chairman of Waikato-Tainui executive Te Arataura, Tom Roa told Radio New Zealand last month that there was a consensus among iwi leaders to put pressure on AFFCO and its owners, the Talley family, to end the three month long industrial dispute which is having a huge effect on Maori communities. This followed similar comments from Ngapuhi leader Sonny Tau, who suggested farmers from his and other iwi should stop supplying animals to AFFCO unless the dispute is settled.

The union movement has been grateful for the support. Laurie Nankivell, a Shed Secretary for the Meat Workers Union said on Triangle TV’s The Union Report “it’s a huge bonus for us up North ‘cause we all know Sonny Tau up North, he worked with us in the freezing works in the ’80s- ’70s and ’80s, it was good to see him on our picket line.” [Read more...]

Socialism 2012: tino rangatiratanga

1:30-3pm Sunday June 3rd
Newtown Community and Cultural Centre

Urewera four – fight the imprisonments of Iti and Kemara

Byron Clark

The crown has decided not to retry the Urewera 4 on the charge of Participation in an Organised Criminal Group. The group were originally threatened with charges under new terrorism laws after being arrested in a series of raids on October 15, 2007. 13 others were arrested but charges against them have been dropped. The only charges the state could make stick were minor firearms offenses against Tame Iti, Rangi Kemara, Urs Signer and Emily Bailey.

“The whole case should never have gone ahead.” Commented Ana Cocker from the October 15th Solidarity Group, adding that the firearms charges should also be thrown out. “The charge of Participation was laid specifically in order that the crown could use the illegally obtained evidence. The crown needed to justify Operation 8 and their invasion and spying on Te Urewera, by bringing convictions at any cost” said Crooker “Nothing in this case has been about so-called justice, it is all about criminalising dissent and halting aspirations for Tuhoe autonomy.”

On May 24 Iti, Kemara, Signer and Bailey were sentenced on the firearms charges. Signer and Bailey were sentenced to 9 months home detention while Iti and Kemara were sentenced to more than 2 years in prison. Along with other people and organisations we support their immediate release.

Budget Day, Wellington: don’t lock us out of education

March against attacks on students, workers and beneficiaries in the May 24th budget.

Meeting 12pm at the Hunter Courtyard, VUW (Wellington) to march on parliament.

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