Ireland country report

The following report was drawn up by the Irish Marxist group, Socialist Democracy

10 November 2010

I Introduction

The Irish State is one of the most globalised in the world and for nearly two decades was held up as a model of economic development across Europe and further afield.  Now it is in severe crisis and faces bankruptcy.  The Irish Government has applauded its ‘first mover’ advantage in its efforts to enforce austerity – that it was taking the steps that sooner or later all other states would be forced to take.  The small and weak character of the Irish State means that it often exaggerates trends that exist elsewhere.  For all these reasons the Irish experience is an important one for others to study.

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IMF Will Entrench the Economics of the Madhouse

The following article is by the Irish socialist-republican group, éirígí


ICTU Protest, Saturday November 27th, 12pm, Wood Quay, Dublin Budget Night Protest, March to Leinster House. Assemble 5.30pm, Tues December 7th, Wolfe Tone Monument, Stephen’s Green, Dublin Introducing the catastrophic €400 billion [£340 billion] blanket bank guarantee scheme in September 2008, Twenty-Six County finance minister Brian Lenihan was keen to offer reassurance to those genuinely fearful of the consequences of such economic recklessness.

Thousands demonstrate in Ireland against austerity measures

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Pike river mine mass killing

As we learned this afternoon, the rescue we hoped for will not take place. Because of a second major explosion the miners at the Pike river site are all almost certainly dead.

Hard questions remain to be answered and there will be a struggle for the truth to see the light.

As that inevitable struggle unfolds, there are two positive ways workers can respond to this mass killing. One is to donate to the relief fund for the bereft families and community.

The other way is for organised labour to get its bottle back, so that we’re better organised to prevent future fatal industrial accidents  killing our friends, sons and daughters.

The union role in the Pike river disaster has been marginal. The one time it was openly advanced, the boss class closed ranks and drew their claws.

Senior Cabinet Ministers rounded on Australian journalists covering the Pike River coal mine crisis, labelling their questions “disgraceful” and branding one a “tosspot”.

Police Minister Judith Collins this afternoon heaped scorn upon Ean Higgins, from The Australian, for some questions he asked at a media conference this morning.

“Frankly, those journalists need to sit down and think about what they’re actually doing. What they are doing is they are cheapening the work of other journalists working in Greymouth and they are absolutely not respecting the terrible time the people of Greymouth are going through,” Collins said.

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee earlier blasted Higgins as “boorish” for asking why a “local country cop” was leading the rescue operation.

Collins said the question was “disgraceful”.

What caused all this rukuss?

Foul mouthed Australian Ean Higgins had employed the “u” word.

Higgins  asked why Superintendent Gary Knowles was heading the rescue operation instead of a mining union.

Police superintendent Knowles then asserted that the disaster “wasn’t a union matter”.

If Knowles is right on that, then unions are irrelevant and should stop collecting dues and shut up shop.

If Knowles is wrong, Kiwi unions need to find the guts to stand up and show why we deserve to take up space.

Review:Mates and Lovers

In advance of Ronald Trifero Nelson’s theatrical adaptation of Mates and Lovers: A History of Gay New Zealand, Spark correspondent Ian Anderson reviews the original book.

The Spark November 2010

Chris Brickell’s Mates and Lovers: A History of Gay New Zealand is an essential book for anyone interested in local social history. The first book of its kind focused on New Zealand, the book draws on court records, personal collections, press coverage and various other sources to map out the changing social formation of “homosexuality,” as it was dubbed in Europe over the late 19th Century.

As Brickell explains, that very word “homosexuality” did not reach popular discourse in New Zealand until the mid 20th Century. With that in mind, the book covers the shifting roles that men who have sex with men have played in society, and the shifting language to describe these roles. [Read more…]

Solidarity with Pike River workers

The Workers Party extends its solidarity to the families and friends of the 29 workers currently trapped in the Pike River mine.

This terrible disaster is the latest in a steady stream of industrial carnage.

According to the official government website
there are about 100 fatal work related injuries in New Zealand each year. That figure does not include premature death from workplace related disease, which is estimated at being 700-1000 deaths a year.

The primary cause of so called industrial accidents is capitalism’s drive for maximum profits. That drive leads to under staffing, speedup, lack of safety equipment provision, deunionisation of worksites with consequent worker deaths and debilitation.

It remains to be seen what caused the latest accident, at the moment the priority is for the workers to be rescued as soon as possible.

Secret ballots? Workers should decide

Back in April The Spark carried an article sounding the alarm at National MP Tau Henare’s Private Member’s bill to require unions to run secret ballots for strike action. While the Council of Trade Unions gave its “support in principle” to the bill at the time, we warned that workers could become ensnared in pedantic legal challenges by employers trying to undermine strikes. No Right Turn blog had also given its backing to bill as “a bit of a no-brainer.”

Predictably, the moderate-sounding wording of the original has been amended by the select committee, so now employers could challenge strike ballots with injunctions. Now the CTU and their mates in the Labour Party are crying foul over the bill. Didn’t the 90 day “sack at will” law brought in by Henare’s party give them a clue about what were the government’s intentions with regard to employment laws? Are they really surprised that a bill proposing further restrictions on unions wouldn’t also include the right of employers to challenge the process? [Read more…]

Luis Jalandoni – radio interview

Luis Jalandoni and Coni Ledesma, two leaders from the Philippines liberation movement have finished a nationwide speaking tour.

During their tour they gathered signatures and support from socialists, human rights and peace advocates including members of parliament, Maori activists, trade unionists, clergy and community leaders calling for the Aquino government to resume formal peace talks without preconditions, and to put an end to the wave of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and illegal detention of political activists in the Philippines.

Hear more in Luis Jalandoni’s Interview With Chris Laidlaw, Radio NZ National, 14/11/10

Luis Jalandoni – Peace in the Phillipines (duration: 17′37″)

One of the most longstanding conflicts in the world is the war that has been fought, on and off, between national liberationists and the ruling authorities in the Phillipines. Luis Jalandoni has been at the centre of the conflict since the 1970s, as chair of the National Democratic Front of the Phillipines negotiating panel for peace talks with the government.
Audio from Sunday Morning on 14 Nov 2010

Housing protest in Mana

Activists from Matt McCarten’s by-election campaign in Mana have been involved in a symbolic protest to highlight the crisis in housing faced by working class people in the area and New Zealand as a whole. 3 News reported that the vacant state house in Cannon’s Creek had been occupied by protestors in order for a family currently living in a garage to move in. Shortly after the news item was aired, police arrived at the house and arrested four people, including two Workers Party members who were visiting the house to provide their campaign comrades with food. The police demanded that the four signed non-association orders as a condition of bail. The activists face court on Tuesday at 9am.

The campaign will be hosting a block party outside the property in Calliope Crescent this Saturday from 12-3pm. Matt McCarten has commented that: “The State will let working class people wait on housing lists for seven years. Occupy an empty house and they’ll arrest you in seven minutes.”

The Workers Party demand the charges against the activists are dropped immediately, and that the anti-democratic non-association orders are quashed.

Thousands across Europe resist austerity attacks

John Edmundson The Spark November 2010

Europe has seen a massive upsurge in worker resistance to planned implementation of continent-wide austerity measures. The size and militancy of the demonstrations and strikes should serve as an inspiration to workers in this part of the world, where class consciousness is at an all time low and union leadership has been sorely lacking and misdirected. In New Zealand, the CTU’s national day of action against the proposed extension to the 90 Day Act and other attacks on workers’ rights was morphed into a Labour Party election rally and Christchurch, where job losses due to earthquake related business closures, and earthquake recovery projects will mean workers there will be more exposed than most to the provisions of the 90 Day Act, the CTU decided in its wisdom that “for obvious reasons,” there would not even be a rally.

Compare this with the situation developing across Europe and the contrast could hardly be starker. The Spark has already given some coverage to the massive demonstrations that struck Greece, but huge worker rallies have taken place across many European cities and industrial action has hit several countries, most notable Spain and France. While it would be wrong to read too much into the potential of these actions, they do represent a significant positive development given the relative quiescence of the working class movement. [Read more…]

India behind the Games

Philip Ferguson The Spark November 2010

In the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games the media was full of criticisms of India.  All these, however, revolved around whether the Games’ facilities would be finished and good enough, what the quality of the athletes’ village was and whether athletes would be safe from the supposed dangers represented by Islamic fundamentalists.

What was never touched upon in any serious way was the position of the mass of Indians themselves.  Indeed, the media continues to promote the number one global myth about India: that it’s the world’s biggest democracy.  In point of fact, India is a country marked by lack of democracy, by vicious state repression and huge inequalities of wealth and power. [Read more…]