20 Years of the Wellington Peoples’ Centre

This report on the Wellington Peoples’ Centre, by Ian Anderson, will be published in the June issue of The Spark. Sue Bradford, who helped set up the Peoples’ Centres, will be speaking on unemployed and beneficiary fightback at our Socialism 2012 conference.

After 20 years of support for unemployed and low-income workers, the Wellington Peoples’ Centre (WPC) closed its doors on the 28th of April 2012. However most services continue to operate independently, and by decision of the membership the WPC remains as a legal entity.

Background: by the people, for the people
Peoples’ Centres first formed in the early ’90s, out of the radical unemployed workers’ movement. In an interview for the April Spark Sue Bradford explained, “This was partly because things were getting tougher, and partly because having a paid membership base made our work with unemployed workers more effective. Peoples’ Centres provided services, including hair-dressing and medical services.”

The WPC itself formed out of the Wellington Community Law Centre, Wellington Unemployed Workers Union, DPB Action and Downtown Community Ministry in 1992. The only centre to last for two decades, by early 2012 the WPC provided cheap dentistry, counselling, Social English classes, Workers’ Rights advice and benefit rights advocacy. [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…]