Women, Politics and Class: a Socialist Analysis for Aotearoa

Women workers: in the vanguard of Aotearoa's working class

Women workers: in the vanguard of Aotearoa’s working class

Women face a contradiction. While equal pay for women and men working for the government became the law in 1960, it wasn’t until the Equal Pay Act passed in 1972 that equal pay between the sexes across the board became legal. The Domestic Purposes Benefit, providing state support to single parents, was introduced in 1973.

Yet, four decades later, women are still paid less than men. Women’s hourly earnings are on average 12 to 15% less than men. The weekly gender pay gap is much greater because women are more likely to be in casual and part time work. Women’s average weekly pay is $879 and men’s is $1059 – a gender pay gap of 17%. The annual gender earnings gap is much wider, and this gap is widening according to Statistics NZ calculations. The recession and the earthquakes in Christchurch have all hurt women significantly more.

The Human Rights Commission wrote in their report New Zealand Census of Women’s Participation last year that “New Zealand is making, slow, incremental but unspectacular progress for women in many areas”. What they mean by unspectacular is that 22 government departments have gender pay gaps bigger than the average pay gap in the labour market; 9 government departments have more than 20% gender pay gap; women are still less than 30% of judges, less than 25% of senior academic staff; and less than 20% of top legal partnerships.

I can think of a few other adjectives than “unspectualar” to describe these damning statistics. [Read more...]

Hezbollah and the Syrian Revolution

SyriaImageHezbollah fought on the front lines against Israeli aggression against Lebanon in 2006, winning respect from Sunni and Shia in Lebanon and all opponents of Zionism. But Hezbollah fighters have now turned their fire on the rebels fighting to overthrow Assad’s regime in Syria, raising the risk of the Arab Spring becoming a sectarian war in Syria and Lebanon. Sam Campbell reports from Lebanon. [Read more...]

Bill’s Budget is a Castle Made of Sand

NZH0554598044On Radio Live last night, Duncan Garner was chortling with satisfaction at Bill English’s stewardship. His business guests were even more delighted. Andrew Patterson praised Bill English’s wisdom and prudence that had finally undone all the damage of the Clark Labour Government. In a pretty disgusting metaphor, Garner said Cameron Bagrie, the ANZ chief economist, soiled his trousers in delight when he read Bill’s Budget.

The Budget’s key features include measures to reduce house prices, ACC levy cuts, privatisation of Meridian Energy, support for businesses and for research and development, more money for Christchurch’s reconstruction, and, of course, a surplus – by 2015. [Read more...]

Marx and the Lassalleans

Lassalle2The following was presented as a talk at Marxism 2013 in Melbourne

Who today has even heard of Ferdinand Lassalle? Who cares about Marx’s battles with his followers? Lassalle’s writings are out of print, and his collections sit gathering dust in the stacks and back-rooms of libraries. Picking over these old quarrels seems, at first, like conforming to the clichéd image of the troublesome but scholastic and irrelevant Marxist, fighting not just last century’s battles but also throwing in one from the century before that for good measure.

There is, to be sure, a great distance between Lassalle’s world and our own. He was active in a time when Europe was still dominated by powerful monarchies, when the capitalist class and the old feudal and aristocratic order still battled for power over much of the continent. His was an era of absolutism, and a time when the peasantry were still a major social force. Modern Germany did not yet exist. [Read more...]

Oppose attacks on the disability benefit

Members of Disabled People Against Cuts protest in Britain

Members of Disabled People Against Cuts protest in Britain

This year the National government will be implementing changes to the disability benefit based on a similar system being used in the UK.

The welfare reforms in 2008 in the UK brought in a work capability assessment. A healthcare company is contracted to do these assessments. This company is currently Atos and its performance in this regard has been heavily criticised by disabled people’s organisations, as well as individuals, MPs, the Commons Select Committee for Work and Pensions, and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. [Read more...]

The Labour leadership battle

Shearer

From the outset of last year’s leadership contest Shearer was the choice of the capitalist class to take over from Phil Goff. There was a reason for that; Shearer was distinctly the right-wing candidate who signalled his willingness to jettison left-wing policies that Labour had adopted for the General Election. Shearer was the puppet of the mass-media. Shearer supporters wax indignant at the claim there is a left-right split in the leadership struggle, but what else are we to make of Shearer’s speeches attacking sickness beneficiaries and the support he’s received – and is receiving – from the right of the parliamentary party?

[Read more...]

Review: We Will Work With You!

This is a wonderful exhibition, and is bound to fascinate every left-wing person interested in art and design, or just curious to see some of the history of the many social and political struggles from the past decades in Wellington.

Some of the work and originality that the work building activist campaigns demands – in designing leaflets, getting out posters, thinking up slogans and songs – gives us just a little glimpse of the enormous wasted  creativity of working people, creativity too often smothered or ignored in jobs where people are just ‘human resources’ towards profits.

[Read more...]

What’s wrong with lesser evilism

Those who advocate a vote for the “lesser evil” hope to defeat the “greater evil” of the right wing–but they enable the Democrats to shift further right themselves.

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DOES BARACK Obama deserve your vote? That’s the question people on the left should be asking as Election Day approaches.

When you consider Obama’s record after four years in office–a multi-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street, the continuing “war on terror,” more civil liberties shredded, the Employee Free Choice Act abandoned, deportations on the rise, a deepening assault on public schools–the answer has to be no. The list of broken promises and betrayed hopes goes on and on, outweighing anything that could be described as progress.

[Read more...]

National’s war on the poor

This article will be focusing on cutbacks to Welfare and what they mean in the context of the social, political and economic environment of New Zelaand. Firstly I will talk briefly about recent benefit history. Then I will talk about what the current welfare reforms are and some of the ruling classes myths to justify them. Then I will discuss how and why we should stop them.

[Read more...]

Marching for Marriage Equality

At least a thousand people showed out today to support a bill being introduced to parliament today, which would amend the Marriage Act to allow marriage between same sex couples. While many would argue that marriage is an institution best avoided, that doesn’t change the fact that it is a right, with many associated legal benefits, denied to many couples simply because they are of the same gender.

[Read more...]

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