December 16, 2014
Socialist Review asked writers, campaigners and performers to suggest some of the best discoveries from 2014 – we hope there are good suggestions here for your holiday reading!
One of New Zealand’s defining books was Report on an Experience, published in 1947, two years after its author, John Mulgan, had killed himself. His World War Two experience had been brutal and pointlessly tragic. Mulgan’s work hinted at another unromantic side to the New Zealand war story that seldom pushed through the repetitive publishing of boy’s only military tales.
While Greece Crete Stalag Dachau: A New Zealand soldier’s encounters with Hitler’s army by Jack Elworthy was cumbersomely titled, its content is a genuine voice of an ordinary bloke caught up in world history. He was a warrant officer who offered the perspective of the servicemen, the reality of a soldier’s life – leavened with dry humour and unofficial rumour. What makes it striking is that Elworthy offered a working-class view of the war. What makes the book striking is the simplicity of the language, recognisable as a New Zealand voice. Elworthy’s honest view of the enemy is striking. “It was funny: one minute earlier I had been going to batter this German’s neck and head to a pulp with a stone; nothing else would satisfy me,” he writes. “But the moment he was no longer a menace but lying, quiet and frightened, with a smashed hand and part of his thigh bone sticking out of his leg, I felt quite sympathetic towards him.” Thoughtful, caring and no slavish follower of orders, Elworthy, who died several years ago, has done New Zealand history a service.
Michael Field’s most recent book is The Catch: How Fishing Companies Reinvented Slavery and Plunder the Ocean (Penguin, 2014). He is the author of the classic Mau: Samoa’s Struggle Against New Zealand Oppression and Black Saturday: New Zealand’s Tragic Blunders in Samoa.
The scandalous practice of illegal wage deductions came to light in November when the media took up the case of Kerry McIvor, who resigned his Gull petrol station job in Masterton in disgust. McIvro was only paid $14.75 an hour. Over several occasions Kerry’s pay was docked hundreds of dollars by the owner of the […]
By Josh O’Sullivan On Friday unionised ANZ workers walked out on their jobs to protest the underhanded offers of the ANZ bosses during collective bargaining negotiations. After posting consecutive profit records that just last year amounted to $1.7 billion, CEO David Hisco gave himself a 11% pay rise, leaving his paycheck $4.7 million a year […]
What is a man’s life worth? Very little, if they are a prisoner. That must be the attitude of the Department of Corrections, as the terrible details coming out of the inquest into Jai Davis’s death at Otago prison in February 2011 make clear. Anyone with a conscience reading about Mr Davis’s death must feel […]
Stephen Laidler was laid off on the 14th of November. He put on a suit and printed a sign saying “Employ me please”. The media loved his “proactive” attitude and his photo was published nationwide. In a matter of days he had five “definite” job leads. While we support Mr Laidler’s efforts to find work, […]
[Protests against the police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson have exposed the racism and violence of the police in the United States. We stand in solidarity with these protests, and urge readers to join New Zealand solidarity demonstrations. Maori and other victims of police racism in this country will recognize accounts of police brutality. […]
Over 80 First Union members at Porirua Pak n Save have rejected a pay offer and voted for community action and strikes. The Pak n Save owner is refusing to pay a Living Wage. Last Saturday and Sunday workers and community supporters picketed at the store entrances and leafleted shoppers. The public reaction was on […]
Last week’s decision by the New Zealand police not to press charges against the so-called “Roast Busters” confirmed for many that the police are incapable of taking rape or sexual violence seriously. For survivors, the close to one-yearlong investigation Operation Clover was a slap in the face. The whole thing seemed faulty even before the […]
Another legal victory has been chalked up for equal pay and it is a big one. On 28 October the Court of Appeal delivered its judgement on the appeal by Terranova Homes against the Employment Court’s decision in favour of Kristine Bartlett’s case for equal pay. Two courts now have ruled that Terranova Homes, and […]