Sexual Assault and the Police

nz policeLast 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 investigation began. Despite videos of young men boasting online for having what amounted to non-consensual sex  – rape –  police initially said that their hands were tied because no one was “brave enough” to come forward to lay a formal complaint. It was revealed days later that someone had laid a formal complaint with the police … two years previously.

Compare this inaction to the police’s proactive stance when it comes to author Nicky Hager. After the publication of Dirty Politics in August revealing the sordid relationship between the National party, rightwing blogger Cameron Slater, lobby groups, and big business, police were knocking on Hager’s door with a search warrant by October. [Read more…]

A Victory in the Long March for Equal Pay

kristine-smallAnother 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 by implication many other employers, are breaching the 1972 Equal Pay Act. The point of contention is whether a predominantly female workforce should be paid the same rates as a comparable predominantly male workforce working with the same levels of skills, effort, and responsibility. Terranova pay their women workers the same as their handful of men workers. This does not help the women as the men are paid a pittance as well. [Read more…]

Solidarity with Mexican Students

Acapulco protests

Photograph: Eduardo Verdugo/AP

Dear students and families of the Ayotzinapa Normal School:

It is with deep sorrow that we learnt of the terrible events of September 26 this year, when three students of your school were assassinated, and 43 were kidnapped by the municipal police of Iguala and Cucula, and handed over to a criminal group.

Those comrades, your sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, friends, are now martyrs of a cause we share with you from the distance of the other side of the ocean.

They were building a fairer future, they were fighting for social justice and they were progressing on it, they were achieving it step by step. That is why the authority was afraid of them, and sent the police to repress them, because they were making a difference. But the power of the richn and their corruption will never stop the voices of justice. Especially if it’s carried by those who dare to dream and the youth who fight for freedom, like the dear and beautiful disappeared students.

From here, thousands of kilometres away, we send you all of our solidarity and we assure you are not alone. Your loss is also our loss, and our hearts are also sad for those 46 students, who will be for ever in our memories as the seeds of freedom.

We demand justice for these events. We demand that the responsible be processed under the justice and sentenced as they deserve to be – be they mayors and policeman, legal authorities and criminal groups.
And to you, we beg you not to surrender. Your fight is our fight, and is just and true.

ALIVE THEY TOOK THEM, ALIVE WE WANT THEM BACK!

International Socialist Organisation.

Students, Workers and the Class Struggle

auckland university student protestThe history of capitalism is the history of revolt. Throughout the 19th, 20th and now the 21st centuries the capitalist system has been wracked by crises during which the normal functioning of the system is halted, leaving millions of ordinary people with no option other than to rise up. Workers of course, are a wellspring of resistance to the capitalist system and will be central actors in its overthrow. But revolt against the system comes at the same time from innumerous directions. The struggles of students and youth are one such source of revolt, one that has in many times and places made an important contribution the wider struggle against the whole capitalist system.

It’s evident today of course, that students are not innately radical. But radicalism seldom begins all at once. More usually it begins to coalesce around more immediate interests. Hundreds joined protests at Auckland University in 1965 to demand government action on university building programs, bursaries and student residences. Students at Otago began by challenging draconian university regulations that prohibited mixed flatting in 1967. Actions on welfare issues continued to be a theme throughout the high points of student radicalism during the late 60s and 70s, as students campaigned against ‘slumlords’ and defended academic freedom from the incursions of the SIS. [Read more…]

Growing Inequality – and a sign of resistance

From left: Tamasailau, Nicole, Vaiopa’a, Maua, Faaasu, Jacoba and Moanille. Photo / Jason Oxenham (from the NZ Herald)

The latest Stats NZ Household Income report has revealed that inequality in New Zealand continues to grow. The New Zealand Herald was very careful to split out a number of stories to get the best possible spin, but in combination the picture is stark.

The first story was about household income. The median household income (the middle of the distribution, rather than the average) is up $25 on the previous year, a 4.3% rise and the largest in 7 years! Hoorah! Key’s rockstar economy at work! However, this is in contrast to the average income, which increased by 6.2 percent, indicating that the bulk of the growth was in the take home wealth of the already better off. [Read more…]

Foreigners are not to blame: nationalism and the elections

Love NZWhile the fall-out from Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics is the standout feature of the general election campaign, some of the foremost policy questions have been around the interrelated issues of housing, land ownership, and immigration. Labour, Green and Internet Mana have taken a nationalist, anti-foreigner stand alongside New Zealand First, who claim this territory as their own. The Maori Party and Conservative Party have taken up the same tune. This has left the doctrinaire free-market ACT and National parties being able to pose as above resorting to low-down foreigner-blaming for social problems.

That the reformist left has taken up nationalist policies is no surprise. No other question better illustrates the yawning gulf between reformism and revolutionary socialism. Capitalism is a world system and revolutionary socialism can’t survive in one country, it has to be an international movement. For that reason revolutionaries are implacably opposed to nationalism, which ties working people to our rulers and divides us from working people in other countries.

Yet the revolutionary socialists, not having the forces to mount their own election campaign, prefer reformists over right-wing parties in this election. Socialists do not abstain from elections. We want to defeat National.

The International Socialist Organisation calls for a party vote for Internet Mana, which has the best policies for working class people, and an electorate vote for Labour or the Greens, where there is no Mana candidate. We do this despite the left nationalism of all these parties, which is abhorrent to our socialist viewpoint. [Read more…]

Are the Greens a Left Alternative?

Love NZBrian S. Roper takes an in-depth look at the policies and politics of the Greens.

 

Introduction

As indicated by the major polls, support for the Green Party ranged from around 11% to 13% throughout 2014. The Green Party received 11% of the vote and 14 MPs at the 2011 general election, compared to Labour’s 27.5% and 34 seats. Yet despite having 20 fewer MPs than Labour and only six more than NZ First (6.6% of the vote and 8 seats), it has been much more effective as an opposition party within parliament than Labour. Indeed, on virtually every major issue during the Key Government’s second term, including asset sales, mining in national parks, the corruption and ‘crony capitalism’ of the Key Government, and the GCSB legislation, it has done a better job than Labour of criticizing the Government and, more importantly, has done a lot more than Labour to mobilize its members on the streets.

 

Whereas Labour is almost entirely an electoralist party, the Green Party attempts to combine a focus on winning elections with encouraging its members to get involved in flax roots activism. Many Green Party members are experienced and respected activists who have established a laudable track record of working in a non-sectarian and co-operative manner in progressive struggles and campaigns with others on the left, including the International Socialist Organisation (ISO).

[Read more…]

World War One: the Fight against Conscription

Maoriland WorkerAmidst all the patriotic furor this centenary, the real history of the war is all too easily forgotten.  The government and the opposition alike cry crocodile tears for the fallen and mouth “Never again!”, while daisy cutters are dropped on Afghanistan and the history books are (re)re-written.

In high-school classrooms and history-books, we are taught a version of the war in which a well-fed, well-bred (and mostly white) nation proudly sacrifices its sons for the lofty ideals of “God, King and Country”.  The little mention made of wartime dissent is limited to a few footnotes about ‘conscientious objectors’ who are presented as a tiny minority of isolated idealists, and perhaps a few comments on the rising cost of living.

This version of history was written by the ruling class, for the working class, to create a placid and pliant society that allows the prosecution of future wars.  The real history of the war is somewhat different.  In New Zealand, there was a great movement against the continued prosecution of the war, and for peace.  It wasn’t a minority, and it wasn’t isolated.  Hundreds were jailed, and thousands condemned the war in public meetings, in their workplaces, and on the streets.  This article tells just part of that story, the fight against conscription. [Read more…]

Con Devitt: One the Bosses Hated

Con Devitt

 

Con Devitt, an outstanding trade union militant, socialist and organizer, has died at the age of 86. Devitt, a long-time leader of the Boilermakers’ Union in Wellington, made an enormous contribution to the class struggle and the workers’ movement, especially in his important periods of leadership in the 1970s and 1980s.

From a working-class home in Glasgow, Devitt was part of the wave of post-war migration from Britain to New Zealand. Many of these migrants brought with them traditions of union solidarity and class struggle from Britain: John Findlay was another Clydeside boilermaker turned New Zealand union leader. It’s for this reason that the media and the right-wing cultivated the stereotype of the “whingeing Pom” and the outside agitator. Whatever his accent, however, Devitt spoke in a language workers – whether migrant or local – could understand. His message was to stand up for your rights and to trust in your own strength.

Boilermakers worked over 60-hour weeks at one stage, with many men leaving the industry with permanent hearing loss and little support. There was plenty for unions to fight over.

For this commitment, Devitt and his comrades in the Boilermakers’ Union earned the hatred and scorn of the ruling class, the political establishment – Labour and National – and the Wellington and national media. A 1977 commission of enquiry into the heavy engineering industry blamed closures on the unions and talked up “disruptive tactics and restrictive practices imposed by certain sections of the Auckland and Wellington boilermaker unions.” A concerted campaign of slanders against Wellington and Kawerau boilermakers led to their unions being deregistered. National Prime Minister Robert Muldoon ranted against him. The Dominion and the Evening Post editorialised against his tactics and outlook. We should take all of this as a sign he knew how to do a good job standing up for his members. [Read more…]

Should socialists support the Internet-Mana alliance? A Reply

[The ISO recently published an article ‘Should Socialists Support the Internet-Mana Alliance?‘, the product of discussion within our organisation. This is a response and a contribution to the debate from Martin Gregory, a member of our Poneke branch.]

The publication of ‘Should socialists support the Internet-Mana alliance?’ on 18 June on this website marks, in my opinion, a new low-point in the trajectory of the International Socialist Organisation. The article was sanctioned by the ISO’s national committee. A continuation along this track will spell the end of the organisation’s prospects of becoming the nucleus of a revolutionary worker’s party. Theoretical clarity is essential, and we are losing it. [Read more…]

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