Auckland students for a new university

32498259_297052274165676_8858720946828083200_nBy Gowan Ditchburn

 

The proposed closure of the specialist libraries at the University of Auckland has become an important and much discussed matter. High school students are informing their teachers about how the University of Auckland isn’t putting enough money towards its libraries, something it appears the university’s Vice Chancellor, Stuart McCutchen hasn’t grasped yet. Students, staff and those outside the university have come together. Already there has been a large rally that saw around a thousand students and staff march to the Clock tower to present a consultation document. There has been a speak-in and conversations at some of the libraries with representatives from institutions such as the New Zealand Institute of Architects affirming the importance of these specialist collections not just to students but entire professions in New Zealand. These proposed closures therefore have a relevance beyond the boundaries of the university campus and the academic study of today’s students.

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Health workers make their voices heard

 

wellington

Wellington rally. Photo credit: Rachel Bellam

Thousands rallied across the country last weekend to show their support for health workers in their campaign for better pay and conditions. There were gatherings of several hundred in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, and rallies in cities all across the country. From Greymouth to Gisborne people came out to stand in solidarity with nurses and other health workers.

 

 

The determination, focus and strength of the rallies was an inspiration. Health workers have been facing in their daily working life the effects of years of underfunding in the system, and it is taking a toll on their physical and mental health. Just this week RNZ’s Checkpoint reported that nurses in Christchurch are assaulted at least twice a week. Reports this year of the rot and potentially dangerous mould in Middlemore Hospital are a symbol for the decay and neglect nurses are fighting against. They have huge public support.

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The struggle for Ihumātao

SOUL Protest

SOUL Protest, 2017. Image credit: Waatea News.

By Tania Te Hira-Mathie

 

 

Located in Māngere, South Auckland, Ihumātao is Auckland’s oldest settlement and one of New Zealand’s most important historic archaeological sites. This site, northwest of Auckland airport, has been part of a long struggle to save Māori land. Ihumātao is the largest remaining intact gardening site found in New Zealand. “Ihumātao is the beginning of Auckland”, explains archeologist Dave Veart in a Radio New Zealand interview, “with the descendants of the first residents of Tāmaki Makaurau living a kilometre down the road. Compared to other archaeological sites it shows how people lived in a way that’s remarkably easy to understand.”

The land also has significance as an unsettled land dispute. Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL), the campaign group involving mana whenua and other community groups, attest that Ihumātao is land that was confiscated by the State in 1863, as punishment for local iwi refusing to swear allegiance to the Crown.

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The rise of the Red Fed

MW cartoonBy Martin Gregory

 

The defeat of the 1890 Maritime Strike, a general strike of transport-related unions, smashed up the first wave of union militancy in these islands. Union membership was knocked back from 63 000 to just 8 000, and the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1894 was passed.

 

The arbitration system ended strikes completely. It applied to unions that registered under the Act, and most did, despite the loss of independence to be able to take legal industrial action or even determine their own rules. The unions, which were mostly local craft unions, accepted, even welcomed, the Arbitration Court handing down awards because they were too weak to take the employers on.

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Health workers need more: ‘independent’ panel no way forward

Health Workers

NZNO members protest in Wellington. Image credit: Unions Wellington

During last year’s election campaign Labour seemed to be the party that offered pay equity and a boost to health spending. Nurses, health care assistants and midwives, working in unbearable conditions under National’s cutbacks, took Labour at its word. In November the ordinary member of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation voted down a collective agreement, recommended to them by their negotiating team, which gave just 2 percent pay rises. In March the membership voted down another deal that gave 2 percent increases. Then in early April health workers showed an unmistakable spirit to fight for the radical uplift to public health services that they and the public need. As health workers rallied outside hospitals the general public enthusiastically tooted its support for the cause.

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Renting and Class Struggle

 

Police attempt eviction in Ponsonby 1931

Police attempt an eviction in Ponsonby, 1931. 

by Dougal McNeill 

Renting can often seem like an isolating and powerless experience. We have to compete against other potential tenants for properties, going through the stress of flat hunting, viewings and landlords’ checks into our finances and private lives. Tenancy rules are weighted in favour of landlords. Rent comes out automatically from your bank account, but there is nothing automatic about getting landlords to come around and fix problems in the properties they make money from. It’s an alienating relationship.

 

But rent, just like wage labour, is shaped by class struggle. Just as bosses exploit workers in the workplace, landlords exploit tenants through rent. And housing, just like the workplace, has seen ebbs and flows of class struggle over the decades. Niki Rauti’s battle in Glen Innes last year put the question of state housing – and the redevelopment of Auckland for the rich – at the centre of national discussion. She was joining a long line of class fighters for housing.

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Nurses fight for their rights

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Image credit: NZNO Facebook page

Sarah Anderson works as a nurse. She submitted this to the New Zealand Herald a fortnight ago, before nurses voted down the DHBs’ latest inadequate offer. The ISO is happy to publish this guest post, and stands in full solidarity with the nurses and their demands.

Negotiations between the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and District Health Boards over the Multi Employer Collective Agreement have stirred many nurses to speak up and reveal the bare, unmasked truth of the nursing profession. 

An outcry is being made over low wages, staffing shortages, discrimination and bullying in the workplace. Nurses have remained silent for too long and are now beginning to find their strength. 

Stories of burnout and frustration mark a Facebook page created by two unnamed nurses who took time to give nurses a space to share. The public page, titled ‘New Zealand, please hear our voice’ now has over 38,000 followers. Echoes of verbal and sometimes physical abuse seeps pervasively into many posts. Other nurses fantasise of a world where they might even be able to take a meal break. Many relate tales of patients who suffered unnecessarily due to unsafe staffing levels. There are also heart-warming moments found here, that credit those who give their all because they see hope and thankfulness in the eyes of those they care for.  [Read more…]

The Vietnamese Trotskyists against colonialism and Stalinism

imagesby Daniel Simpson Beck

Starting with only a handful of members, the Vietnamese Trotskyists in the 1930s and 1940s were able to build large organisations capable of having great impact within the Vietnamese working class. They did so despite much larger Stalinist forces. Their rise and fall offers us lessons for building socialist organisations today.

The beginning

The small group who started the movement were young Vietnamese students who had come across Trotskyism while studying in France. Prominent among these students was Ta thu Thau who had been part of the nationalist movement against colonial rule before leaving for France in 1927. As his political views moved further to the left he abandoned his nationalist leanings and, at the age of 23, entered the Trotskyist Left Opposition. In Paris in 1929, he helped organise the Indochinese Left Opposition.

The Vietnamese revolutionaries saw their group as a left faction within the official Communist movement. By this period the Communist International was under the control of Josef Stalin, whose leadership had contributed to the failure of the 1925-27 Chinese revolution. The Stalinist Comintern ordered the Chinese Communists to subordinate themselves to the capitalist nationalist party, the Guomindang, because, it was argued, China was not ready for socialism and that only nationalist revolution should be attempted. This decision meant that the Communists could not lead the mass revolt of workers and peasants in China. The nationalists reacted to the revolution by crushing the working class and murdering many of the Communists.* The failures of Stalinism in China had pushed the young Vietnamese revolutionaries toward Trotskyism.

Despite the failure of the Chinese revolution, the Stalinists continued the line that workers and peasants in colonial countries should have their interests subordinate to the nationalist bosses. Ta thu Thau, repudiated this approach, arguing in 1930: “Only revolution based on the organisation of the proletariat and peasant masses is capable of liberating the colonies.”

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Capitalism is killing the planet

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By Joshua O’Sullivan

 

It is hard to write an article about climate change without being accused of scaremongering, because of the size and scale of the truly existential crisis that lies before us. The challenge is immense and the effects of it are starting to hit hard across the planet. 2017 has been another record-breaking year to follow multiple record-breaking years. In the U.S. alone in the first 9 months of 2017 has been hit by 15 different natural disasters that together caused more than $1bn damage, including record-breaking rainfall from Hurricane Harvey and the strongest-recorded intensity making landfall Hurricane Irma. This does not include the state of California which at the beginning of the U.S. winter is now aflame in some of the largest wildfires in the state’s history.

 

In New Zealand as a result of the La Niňa phenomena, temperatures this December are reaching 6 -7 degrees Celsius above normal for this time of year, resulting in the spectre of drought for nearly all of the country. This heatwave is likely to continue throughout the summer and already we have water restrictions and crises in Wellington, Hawke’s Bay and Christchurch. Climate change is no longer some spectre haunting our future but rather hitting us right now.

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Trump and the Alt Right

5-times-donald-trump-has-engaged-with-alt-right-racists-on-twitterBy Andrew Tait

 

Why should we be concerned about yet another rightwing American president or pay attention to the ravings of disgruntled keyboard warriors? Trump is an orange ball of arrogance and the alt-right thrives on outrage. But they are worth watching because both are products of a crisis in neoliberal ideology.

The mainstream media in New Zealand, following liberal (ie Democratic Party) opinion in the USA, portrays Trump as a buffoon. The White House is supposedly in chaos under the Clown Prince, and we can only pray that the “adults in the room”, the unelected higher echelons of the American state, will check his excesses. Another view, from the left, points out continuities with Obama’s rule, when deportation of migrant workers and drone strikes both reached unprecedented heights. Not much can be learned from either point of view when studying Trump.

 

Similarly with the alt-right; mass shootings and white-supremacist marches are good clickbait but not taken seriously. These views are mistaken. Trump and the alt-right are not the same-old, same-old, but there are continuities with the past.

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