Members of our Wellington branch were proud this morning to stand in solidarity with Unite union members striking for a living wage at McDonald’s. McDonald’s makes hefty profits, but its workers, on casual contracts, are paid minimum wages.
Somewhere alongside the white wall studios slapped with half-hearted painterly expressions and littered with lewd, lazy structures, lie a set of workshops brimming with activity that beckon the golden years of art-making. These technical workshops are fast paced and at times chaotic environments that few people can reign in, let alone command. Graeme Brett and Nick Waterson are among the few men who are capable of such a feat and are the pillars of the old establishment that is Elam School of Fine Arts. They are synonymous with its history and withstanding reputation as one of Auckland’s finest art schools. Now after years of dedication they, along with technicians from other art departments at the University of Auckland, stand to face the possibility of exile into a desert-like job market according to “The National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries- Technical Staffing Review Consultation Document”. [Read more...]
Why do socialists oppose asset sales? The answer seems obvious: socialists want state ownership because it provides popular control of the economy. People on both the right and the left generally agree socialists stand for ‘big government’ and ‘state intervention’. But being a revolutionary means questioning accepted wisdom and although reformists in Labour and the Greens might be happy with the equation “state ownership = socialism”, we have a different approach. [Read more...]
May Day greetings to all our readers. Although Labour Day has had more official recognition and celebration in Aotearoa / New Zealand over the decades, May Day is the internationalist celebration of workers’ struggle and solidarity. You can read about the history of May Day here.
May Day marks our ongoing struggle for workers’ rights, democracy, dignity and socialism. In Wellington Unite union are holding a film screening and discussion on their campaigns for better wages and conditions, a great way to commemorate past victories by planning future struggle. Unite union members in Auckland’s Queen Street McDonalds store are set to strike this afternoon – what better way to mark international workers’ day! [Read more...]
There has been goings on at Wellington City Council of late to do with privatisation or “outsourcing” of services with a wobbly performance by the centre-left majority on the Council.
In December last year the councillors voted to sack the chief executive of 15 years in a move seen as a bid to rein in the senior management’s pursuit of cutbacks and privatization. Then, typically of the wavering the centre-left group, they voted to replace the top manager with an import from Britain with a reputation as a privatizer.
In March an article by Gordon Campbell revealed the failure of the centre-left to have taken control of Council affairs since the election in 2010 of Green Party Mayor Celia Wade-Brown. Campbell interviewed Labour councillor Paul Eagle:
From the outset, Eagle explains, management has held the initiative. “There’s been a culture ever since I’ve been here,” he begins, “that anything to do with Council operations has really sat with management.” Councillors were thwarted ‘constantly’ by the distinction between governance vs operational matters. “But in plain English, when things get contracted out, when services get cut, councillors get given very little time, or information about the impacts…I really think what has been missing is the fundamental discussion around what is a public service, and what is commercial.” [Read more...]
Public education in Aotearoa is under attack. From charter schools – the failed money-making scheme imported from right-wing US think-tanks – to National’s ongoing plans to increase classroom sizes to national standards and league tables, the last years have seen relentless assaults on public education. Add to this the disaster of Novopay, and the insecurity and sadness Christchurch teachers, students and communities face as the government pushes through school closures and mergers in the earthquake-damaged city, and the picture gets worse.
So we need to Stand Up for Kids. It’s great that the NZEI – the primary teachers’ union – called nationwide rallies yesterday. These rallies showed the depth of teachers’ anger, and the scale of community support. They could inspire further fights. They were a success.
Our members mobilized in each of our branches to come out and support these rallies. [Read more...]
13 forestry workers have died in work related accidents in the past 3 years, 30 in the last 6 years. Just to put this in perspective the death rate in the UK forestry industry is 10.4 per 100,000 workers and in NZ 343 per 100,000. Some bosses blame workers drug use and call for increased drug testing but there no amount of excuses can justify this outrageous number of fatalities. We need explanations, and the forestry bosses need to be held to account for all these needless deaths.
The wealth of Maori business is estimated to be around $37 billion but with 60,000 Maori children living in poverty, Mana MP Hone Harawira has suggested to iwi leaders that “maybe it was time we turned our corporate bus around and went back to get all the kids”.
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?
It’s just sickening to read reports of the royal commission’s findings on the Pike River disaster. 29 men lost their lives – and have left behind grieving families and friends – in what was an entirely preventable, and predictable, tragedy. The lawyer for some of the families involved calls it an “unrelenting picture of failure at virtually every level”: warning after warning about the build-up of methane gas was ignored, workers’ concerns were ignored, dangerous techniques kept up. All for Pike River Coal’s drive for profit.