Saturday night, June 1, Wellington – Fightback against McDonald’s!

mcdonalds bunny street wellington strikeAs part of its 2013 conference Fightback (Aotearoa/NZ) is supporting a Unite membership campaign to lift pay and establish guaranteed hours of work at McDonald’s workplaces.

We’ll be distributing this leaflet to McDonald’s customers: WHY FIGHTBACK SUPPORTS MCDONALDS WORKERS

Between 7pm and 9.30pm on Saturday June 1 Fightback members and other supporters of the Unite-led campaign will be going to McDonald’s stores throughout Wellington City. We’ll be telling customers why we think McDonald’s workers should be supported by the public. This comes on the back of last week’s strike at the Bunny Street store (pictured).

If you want to join the fight meet at 6.30pm at Newtown Community & Cultural Centre @ corner of Rintoul & Colombo Sts, Newtown.

For further information or to make any enquiries email us at

Workers Party day school – Auckland, Saturday November 17

On Saturday November 17 Workers Party members, contacts, and supporters in Auckland will be holding the third monthly day school in a series of three.
In the previous day schools we examined why we need a revolutionary party and studied Lenin’s pamphlet on Imperialism.
This month the topic will be how socialists relate to the union movement. The day school is being held at Trades Hall, 147 Great North Road, Auckland.

Full Agenda

10.30 -11am Meet and greet, refreshments

11.00am -12.15pm Study: “Transitional and democratic slogans as bridges to socialist revolution”, by Joseph Hansen

12.15-1.30pm Study “Teamster Power”, Chapter 3 “A class struggle policy” by Farrell Dobbs

1.30-2.30pm Lunch Break

2.30-4pm Discussion “Organising a workers’ fight back in Aotearoa in 2013: Tasks and Perspectives”

Please confirm attendance in advance so that we can provide adequate handouts on the day. For further enquiries, if you wish to attend, or if you want the readings emailed out please contact Mike Kay on  021-288-5601 or email

Marxist day school for Auckland contacts and supporters, Saturday September 8

Auckland WP contacts and supporters will be holding a day school this Saturday, September 8, in Grey Lynn.

Existing members and contacts will be meeting from 11am till 4pm.

This will be the first of a new series of monthly day schools being held each month until the end of the year.

The first day school will be focussed around a study of Lenin’s Three sources and three component parts of Marxism which can be viewed here:

This will be followed by a study of James Cannon’s The Revolutionary Party and its role in the struggle for socialism which can be viewed at : 

We welcome new contacts to attend. For anyone interested in attending please contact Rebecca on 022-671-9656 for venue details or to see if transport assistance is available.

Advance Pasifika takes living standards demands to Auckland’s Queen Street

Pasifika people have hit the streets of Auckland in large numbers for the first time since the infamous dawn raids thirty years ago. Mobilising behind the organisation “Advance Pasifika”, about 800 people marched on Saturday to demand affordable housing, better educational outcomes, quality healthcare and decent jobs with a living wage for Pasifika people in New Zealand. A fresh morning breeze raised up the national flags of numerous Pacific Island countries, the largest number being Samoan and Niuean. They were joined by the banners of trade unions as well as Mana, Greens and the Labour Party.

The march was a little bit different to your run-of-the-mill demonstration. It kicked off with songs, hymns and even an aerobics work out. At the half way point, marchers were treated to an energetic performance of drumming and dancing, turning the heads of passers by on Queen Street. When the marchers reached Aotea Square, they were greeted with a pōwhiri from Ngāti Whātua on behalf of the tangata whenua of Auckland. The overall vibe of the march was exuberant, but also angry at the impoverished position of Pasifika people and the institutional racism they face.



120 attend Workers Party national conference in Wellington

By writers for The Spark

In early June the Workers Party held its annual national conference – this year called Socialism 2012 – in Newtown, Wellington.

Public event
The event opened with Jared Phillips of the Hamilton branch putting forward a class analysis and economic forecast for the coming period. Guest speaker Sue Bradford from Auckland Action Against Poverty and MANA spoke about reorganising the unemployed and the vulnerable sections of the working class, which was followed by Mike Kay, a WP member in Auckland, looking at the current position of meat-workers and wharfies who have both recently been in significant struggles.

On Saturday Mike Kay presented on the concept of the combat propaganda organisation, examining what type of Marxist organisation it is possible to build in the current period. Kassie Hartendorp of the Wellington branch then spoke about Safer Spaces, touching on some of the problems in Occupy and putting forward strategies to deal with unsafe spaces.

After those sessions a panel was held on ‘Eco-Socialism in Australasia’. Grant Brookes of the Wellington branch spoke about the idea of forming an Eco-socialist network in Aotearoa and Ian Anderson – also of the Wellington branch – then spoke on the connection between socialist policy on immigration and the environment. Guest speaker Ben Petterson of Socialist Alliance spoke about the state of the Eco-socialist movement in Australia.

Continuing with Australian guests, Yarra City Councillor Anthony Main from Socialist Party Australia spoke about the way in which  that organisation participates in elections and the connection between the transitional method and their work in council. This was followed by a panel ‘Against the capitalist education system’ in which Joel Cosgrove of the Wellington branch spoke about new forms of organising being required as student unions are increasingly becoming the tools of the university administration.  Rowan MacArthur of the International Socialist Organisation spoke on student resistance and reasons for increased activity amongst students. University teacher Dick White then spoke about the idea of the university as the critical conscience of society and counterposed that idea to the reality of the role of the university.

On the last day of public conference Byron Clark and Paul Hopkinson presented on imperialism with Paul focussing on the PFLP solidarity campaign and Byron focussing on NZ imperialism. Jared Phillips then outlined the emergence of new analysis within the Workers Party in favour of pro-working class Tino Rangatiratanga. James Froch of the Wellington branch pointed  to a socialist programme for queer  liberation in New Zealand. The final session consisted of a panel with a representative from each of  Socialist Party Australia, Socialist Alliance (Australia), International Socialist Organisation, and Workers Party putting forward perspectives of their organisations.

Internal meetings
The Workers Party convened several internal meetings. There were reports from all those holding elected positions in the organisation. There was agreement that the organisation now has the beginnings of a finance consciousness, that the organisation endorses the internal document now published on the WP website titled ‘The Treaty, the foreshore & seabed, and Tino Rangatiratanga’, and that a debate will continue regarding changing the name of the organisation.

Socialising, bands, fundraising
Over the conference weekend there was plenty of socialising and fundraising. On the first night for example the bands Kittentank, Big Rick, and Man/Woman played a fund-raising gig at Bar Bodega which took $450 at the door. On the following night there was a Greek food theme, and there was also a raffle for art and wine.

Strong attendance
Whilst attendance is not the sole criteria for assessing the strength of a socialist conference, and is not the key criteria, it has to be said that the organisation was pleased with the hugely increased turnout in comparison to previous annual national conferences. Over the last five years attendance had plateued at no more than approximately 75. The increased turnout indicates the increased opportinuties for socialist building and reflects the organisation’s increased invovlement in mass work in areas such as workplace, student movement, queer liberation movement, and MANA movement. The Workers Party is looking towards holding next year’s national conference in Wellington at Queen’s Birthday weekend for the second year in a row.

Photos: Hikoi and meatworkers solidarity

The hikoi is showing that tangata whenua are in the forefront of the struggle against asset sales and privatisation. One aspect of the hikoi is the unity between the locked-out meatworkers (employed by Talleys-AFFCO) and others who are opposed to asset-sales and privatisation. This was apparent in the north, where workers employed at the Moerewa plant joined in large numbers. Then again in the Waikato workers from the Horotiu plant have played an important role and received support and acknowledgement from the hikoi. The Talleys-AFFCO workers are now in the ninth week of the lockout.


29/04/12 MWU members rallying


28/04/12 Frankton market the day before the hikoi got to Hamilton. Our mate from a locked-out family, Gareth from Mighty River People’s Power (and MANA), and Becky Broad, Workers Party national organiser (and MANA).


29/04/12 Collecting the koha.


29/04/12 Meatworkers presence at Garden Place, Hamilton.

Mana movement AGM: A socialist report

By Mike Kay and Jared Phillips

Around 200 activists from the Mana movement gathered for its AGM hui at Mataikotare Marae on the shores of Lake Rotorua over the weekend of 24-25 March. The programme, including speeches, debates, practical workshops and waiata showed Mana to be a vibrant and maturing movement.

The event opened with guest speakers, the most inspiring being Dayle Takitimu of Te Whanau-a-Apanui. She focused on the struggle against oil exploration by petroleum giants in the Ruakumara Basin, but in the process delivered broadsides on a number of wider issues.

Te Whanau-a-Apanui are “tangaroa people,” explained Takitimu. The iwi was determined to uphold “te mana o te whenua – mana of the whenua; not mana over the whenua, as some iwi leaders would have it.” Speaking of the draconian Search and Surveillance Act, Takitimu described it as “the coloniser inside our living room.” She detailed her iwi’s continual struggle against the Crown, drawing applause for her observation that “it’s no coincidence that Parliament is shaped like a beehive – the role of bees is to protect their queen.” [Read more…]

Analysis and photos: Mass demonstration in Gisborne for repair of rail link

Crowded Gisborne railway station, Grey Street.

By writers for The Spark

On April 14 approximately 2000 Gisborne people and others who travelled from the nearby Wairoa township mobilised to demand the reinstatement of the Gisborne-to-Napier rail line which is under threat. People on the demonstration were angry and frustrated because the New Zealand Railways Corporation (NZRC) which trades as KiwiRail had still not committed to rebuild the line after it was damaged by storms in the previous month, and this is still the case.

It was due to a lack of maintenance that the track was badly damaged in several places. In one place between Gisborne and the Mahia Peninsula metres of track are suspended because of a preventable slip. It is broadly felt by those who demonstrated that central government doesn’t care about Gisborne because of its regional isolation. [Read more…]

Solidarity against CMP lockout, Auckland fundraiser, Christchurch picket

On October 29 we reported on the current CMP meat industry lockout and fundraising efforts (see article here). We enourage all Auckland readers of this website to attend the upcoming fundraiser at Trades Hall, which appears to be organised by Socialist Aoteroa members and other progressives. We encourage all readers or sympathisers in Christchurch to join the picket against CMP at its head offices initiated by Occupy Christchurch.

The details of these events are below, slighlty adapted from the November 2 Global Peace and Justice Auckland newsletter. Donations are still encouraged and requested so please donate to Disputes Fund (name of account) 38-9007-0894028-08 (account number)

Auckland Fundraiser: 6pm, Friday, November 4, Trades Hall, 147 Great North Rd:

SOLIDARITY WITH LOCKED OUT MARTON WORKERS 6pm, Friday, November 4, Trades Hall, 147 Great North Rd, Auckland: Friday fundraiser for the locked out Marton Meat Workers: 6pm, Fri Nov 4, Trades Hall, 147 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn. Music from Lubin Rains (Vietnam War) and Caoimhe Macfehin (Drab Doo Riffs, Heart Attack Alley). Paul Brown, Scottish folk musician$10 donation on the door. All cash raised going to feed the families of the locked out meat workers. Don’t let them get starved back to work.

CMP picket line

Christchurch – Picket CMP Head Office, 2pm, Saturday, March 5, 100 Carmen Rd:

(The following was part of a statement made by Occupy Christchurch)

At 2pm on Saturday 5th November Occupy Christchurch along with unions, workers campaign groups and local solidarity networks will take to the streets to bring some much needed attention to the plight of the 111 locked-out Canterbury Meat Packer workers. On Saturday 5th November, from 2pm ANZCO Foods Australasia & New Zealand Meat Marketing Office on 100 Carmen Rd will be the stage for an act of solidarity and opportunity to gather some much needed funding for those effected.

CMP is a subsidiary of the multinational corporation ANZCO which supplies New Zealand meat throughout the World. “For almost 2 weeks the unionised workforce at CMP’s Rangitikei’s lamb plant have been locked out by their bosses. Their crime? Not accepting up to a 30% pay cut and a significant decrease in hours.

The 111 workers and their families are now being starved out until they either accept the deal or with the support of the people of Aotearoa beat these disgusting acts of bad faith!” Stated Union Organiser and participant of Occupy Christchurch, Matt Jones. An urgent fund has been set up and money is beginning to pour in – “however with so many mouths to feed there is still a lot to do.” Continued Mr Jones.

“International pressure on this group will also be paramount for the future of our brothers and sisters in Rangitikei. Networking and campaigning in solidarity against big business who put profit before people and hold entire communities to ransom is something the Occupy Movement, combined with unions and the various workers rights campaign groups has the potential to smash and put into the history books ” Concluded Mr Jones. Occupy Christchurch has been based at South Hagley Park for more than two weeks. In support of the Occupy Wall Street phenomena the group hold open daily general assemblies, weekend ‘free markets’ and have been busy networking with community groups and organisations. More information on this picket and updates can be found at and by using the search term ‘occupy christchurch’ in Facebook.

November issue of The Spark

Read the November issue here

At the end of this month New Zealand will hold a general election. While current polls might lead us to be cynical about voting, we need to remember that our right to vote was fought for by previous generations and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Woman gained the right to vote in this country though a massive popular movement in the latter part of the 19th century. We should be aware that Kate Sheppard believed “All that separates, whether of race, class, creed, or sex, is inhuman, and must be overcome” and saw the gaining women’s’ suffrage as part of that struggle.

We should also remember that in addition to women being denied the vote, there was a time when most men were too.  Originally voting was a privilege reserved for land owning men,  a democracy only for those who made up the capitalist class.  In New Zealand in the 19th century, this excluded Maori who owned land in common, and most of the largely itinerant working class- miners, shearers, sailors- who often had no fixed abode, let alone their own land.

The right for working class men to vote in this part of the world was won by a rebellion of miners at the Eureka Stockade in Victoria, Australia in 1854. Fearing that a similar rebellion could take place on this side of the Tasman, the colonial government enacted Victoria’s suffrage laws, and working class men could now vote. Perhaps it’s fitting then that this issue of The Spark puts a focus on miners.

Marking the one year anniversary of the Pike River Mine disaster and the on-going official inquiry, we are publishing an abridged article from the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers Unions looking at the safety concerns at the mine. Labour historian Jared Davidson writes about the role miners have played in the New Zealand labour movement and we examine the position of the West Coast- a region largely dependent on mining- in the context of capitalism.

Also looked at this month is the Occupy Movement, which began in the US (though no doubt inspired by events that began in North Africa) and in October spread around the world. We print the press releases from the occupations taking place in New Zealand cities and an article from the Socialist Party of Australia, looking at the police repression of Occupy Melbourne. It seems a century and a half from Eureka those who right for democratic rights will still be met with state repression. Further coverage of the Occupy movement will appear in our next issue.

Elsewhere in these pages we cover the Rena Oil Spill, the New Zealand tour of S’bu Zikode, a leader of the shack dwellers movement in South Africa, the death of Steve Jobs, and the right to strike.  The October issue, which features an article on each of the parliamentary parties  as well as an article about the importance of retaining MMP in the referendum, will  continue to be circulated between now and the election, and is available wherever you get The Spark.

 – Byron Clark, November issue coordinating editor.