We condemn the anti-Semitic defacing of National Party billboards reported over the last days. Racism serves to divide the working class, and to distract us from the real divisions in society. As socialists we are opposed to all forms of racism, regardless of who happens to be the target of racist slurs. All left-wing people should condemn these racist acts unequivocally.
Dougal McNeill gave this talk as an introduction to one of the sessions at the ISO’s recent national conference / hui-a-tau, held in Auckland in December.
This talk is of necessity arranged in a bitsy, fragmentary, tentative way. That’s because this is the kind of year we’ve had – there has been no single event or struggle defining union struggle. And our own position, in a very modest way, is changing. We’re bigger now, more experienced, and able to try some new things. Some old ways of working aren’t going to suit us so well anymore.
I want to do four things: (1) outline the general state of union struggle; (2) look at what we’re calling ‘the political sphere’ and the unions; (3) think about how we talk about this, to ourselves and to our audience, and (4) end with some comments on what we need to be doing. [Read more...]
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.
During the whole of 2011 there were a mere 12 work stoppages and they involved barely 2,000 workers and only 4,850 person-days lost (to exploitation); so says the Department of Labour. Even worse, only 9 of the 12 stoppages were actual stoppages. The other 3 were what the DOL calls ‘partial strikes’, which are not strikes at all but actions short of a strike, such as go-slows and overtime bans.
It’s the middle of winter and four years into a National government but spring is in the air. When Key was re-elected we were worried. He won the election on the back of a record low vote (around 50% of people on the Maori roll didn’t vote) but he claimed an endorsement for another three years.
Labour’s spokesperson for labour issues, Darien Fenton, has called the Ports of Auckland dispute “some of the worst industrial action we’ve seen in New Zealand for a decade”. That pretty much sums up the difference between those who want to manage the capitalist system, whether Labour or National, and the interests of the working class.
Ka whawhai tonu matou, Ake! Ake! Ake!: Rewi Maniapoto’s words from the Waikato Wars of the 1860s rang through the twentieth century and into our own. Maori resistance to colonisation and land theft has never ended and the Maori struggle for self-determination has continued across the generations.