Medical Cannabis Rally outside Parliament

dscf3123About 40 medicinal cannabis campaigners rallied at Parliament on Wednesday in support of a petition being handed in, and for Damien O’Connor’s Members Bill to permit medicinal cannabis being prescribed for the terminally ill and sufferers of significant pain. Yes Damien O’Connor, the sometimes illiberal Labour MP for West Coast. If O’Connor can support this step, surely anyone can! In fact the latest poll on this issue showed that 76% of New Zealanders support a law change to allow medicinal cannabis to be prescribed by doctors. Only 12% are opposed, and 12% undecided. The Government, however, are out of touch with public opinion. [Read more…]

Easter Sunday: Another Attack on Workers’ Rights

open-easter-sundayBy Martin Gregory

On 25 August the government majority in Parliament passed the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Act by a vote of 62 to 59. Peter Dunne, David Seymour (ACT) and Te Ururoa Flavell (Maori Party) voted with the National Party, who were whipped for this measure. Marama Fox (Maori Party) voted against along with Labour, the Greens and NZ First. Dunne, who claims liberality, and Flavell, who purports to represent Maori, have yet again swung a majority for a reactionary attack on workers’ rights.

What this amendment does is to make possible shops opening on Easter Sunday, the holiest day in the Christian calendar. Until now, Easter Sunday has been one of only 3½ days in the year when shops could not open legally. Easter Sunday opening has been a long-running aim of big retailers, but previously they have failed to achieve a parliamentary majority for a straight-forward legalisation. This latest attempt salves the Christian consciences of some National MPs by passing the responsibility for decisions on Easter Sunday trading to local councils. [Read more…]

Our ‘work ethic’ is not the problem

unnamedBy Andrew Tait

John Key came out this week and said it: New Zealanders are just too lazy or drug-addled to work, so we have to bring in migrants to “do a fabulous job” harvesting fruit and veges.

It’s a meme that has done the rounds on the media, slyly suggested by employers, farmers and politicians but never before as baldly stated by anyone as prominent as the Prime Minister. The truth is employers in agriculture are so addicted to profit they refuse to pay their workers a living wage. [Read more…]

NZEI and PPTA stand up to government’s attacks on public education.

worth-fighting-forBy Shomi Yoon

Unionised teachers in the secondary, primary and early childcare unions, PPTA and NZEI, attended paid union meeting nationwide to discuss a fightback against the government’s attacks on public education this week.

Thousands of teachers filled the Auckland and Wellington town halls to voice their anger and concern about the government’s plans. Thousands more filled halls from Invercargill to Northland – these mass meetings show the depth of the opposition to Bulk Funding 2.0 amongst teachers. There is a clear mood for resistance.

There’s a reason why this government hates teachers and the teaching profession: teachers fight back. Teachers have a strong and proud tradition of standing up for public education and demanding more for education. [Read more…]

“Anti-poverty” group suggests increasing student debt

student debtWe live in strange times. In a report released earlier this week, the Child Poverty Action Group – a group formed with the aim of reducing poverty – actually suggested re-introducing interest on student loans.

The report did detail the increasingly desperate situation facing all but the most well-off students. Student allowances remain just pitifully low – the maximum entitlement is just $175.10, with an accommodation supplement of $40 per week for those who qualify. Those who don’t qualify are forced to borrow to live to the tune of $176.86 per week, with no accommodation supplement. Unsurprisingly students have severe difficulty making ends meet. Little is left over for essentials food, clothing and heating after laying the rent – most visibly in Auckland where the crisis of affordable housing us most severe and student rents average $218. [Read more…]

Don’t turn homophobia into Islamophobia

538085720-Vigil in memory of OrlandoNicole Colson reports on the outpouring of solidarity for the victims of a horrific mass shooting–and the need to challenge the tide of racist scapegoating of Muslims.


The word alone isn’t enough to describe the feeling as the country woke up to news of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. For three hours in the early morning of Sunday, June 12, 29-year-old gunman Omar Mateen kept killing at Pulse, a popular Orlando, Florida, gay nightclub. By the time he was killed himself, 50 people were dead and at least 53 wounded–one out of every three people who had been at the club.

The response was immediate and overwhelming. Amid the shock and grief, thousands in Orlando and elsewhere turned out to donate blood (despite federal guidelines that bar gay and bisexual men from being allowed to donate blood) or offer any help they could.

In cities across the U.S., vigils took place the night of the terrible crime–drawing dozens in some places, hundreds in others, but all with a sober determination to stand up against hate.

Often, the Muslim community took a lead to push back against the right-wing narrative already taking shape–and with a plea: Don’t turn a horrific tragedy into an excuse for scapegoating and Islamophobia. [Read more…]

A Rebel’s guide to Eleanor Marx

A Rebel's Guide to Eleanor MarxA Rebel’s Guide to Eleanor Marx, by Siobhan Brown

Reviewed by Gowan James Ditchburn

“Eleanor Marx saw an alternative: a class that organised across borders, just as the rich do. She was a champion of the oppressed who linked the everyday struggles to a big vision. Our task remains the same.” These are the concluding lines of Siobhan Brown’s short book on Eleanor Marx, and for those of us that fight for a better world they hold true, our task remains the same.

Brown makes it clear that the focus of this book is not the personal life of Eleanor Marx, the focus of so many biographies which overlook the importance of her legacy. This book shines a spotlight on Eleanor’s work at the centre of a powerful trade union movement and her struggle for the rights of the oppressed. This it does amazingly well. Despite the fact the book is only 55 pages long and can fit in your pocket, Brown is able to examine the political context as well as the actions of Eleanor herself. This all important context is key to understanding the contributions of Eleanor Marx to the various struggles examined in the book and for understanding her legacy. [Read more…]

Workers can run the world

NUW workers in Australia occupying a Dandenong factory, 2015

NUW workers in Australia occupying a Dandenong factory, 2015

Gowan Ditchburn gave this talk to the Auckland branch of the International Socialists in May.

Let us examine on of my favourite things on Earth, Democracy. No, not that silly parliamentary kind where you vote every few years. I mean real democracy. Control by the people. Actual control not sending people to parliament to argue like children for three years and pass a few laws which change very little. I mean getting to decide how everything is done. From the Economy and the distribution of goods and resources, to the planning of our cities. All this placed in the hands of the people. My aim is to bring you an interesting look at a different, better and much more democratic way of doing things. [Read more…]

French workers rise up against attacks on labour rights

demonstration in France

Clément is a university professor in Paris.  He is 32 years old and has been an activist in the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) since it was founded in 2009.  He responds to the ISO’s questions on about the social movement against the labour law in France.

Translation was provided by Brittany Travers and Cory Anderson.

What is the code du travail and what significance does it have for French workers?

The “code du travail” (labour code), is a document that brings together the legal regulations governing the rights and duties of employers and employees. It is an important legal tool that offers workers special protection against their employers.

Obviously, the labour code isn’t a “gift” offered by just any enlightened, generous government. It was won with the sweat, tears and sometimes the blood of workers. It reached its first draft in 1910, due to large strikes that were repressed in 1906 and 1908. Since its genesis, the labour code is in a constant state of evolution. It is the culmination of more than a century of social struggle.

The labour code has always been the object of attack by employers. Today, these attacks are largely played out by the media, the right and François Hollande’s government (which still claims to be left). The labour code is allegedly ‘too outdated,’ ‘too complicated’, ‘too restrictive’ for employers who need more ‘flexibility’ – even for the workers who would apparently like to have the ‘freedom’ to work more.

But this propaganda does not take hold of the minds of most workers, and the labour code is still perceived to be one of our most important social gains. [Read more…]

Greece and the international situation

Greek journalist chant anti-austerity slogans during a protest in central Athens, on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. Greek journalists have walked off the job ahead of a general strike set to disrupt services across the country to protest pension reforms that are part of the country's third international bailout. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Greek journalist chant anti-austerity slogans during a protest in central Athens, on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. Greek journalists have walked off the job ahead of a general strike set to disrupt services across the country to protest pension reforms that are part of the country’s third international bailout. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

The following was presented at the ISO national conference in November 2015

By Andrew Tait

We are living in historic times. As if in the blink of an eye we have seen revolutions sweep the Middle East, only to descend into bloody civil war, the devastation of the Greek economy and the emergence in Greece, within five years, from obscurity to power of the most far-left political party since the 1970s – and now its apparent capitulation to the Diktats of the EU and the banks. We have seen the movement of refugees, already enormous, grow a hundredfold in Europe, where they have been met, yes, with barbed wire but also, by others, with open arms. Closer to home, the hell holes designed by Howard to hide “boat people” from human rights have now also become home to New Zealanders awaiting deportation from the Lucky Country. Legal norms are stripped away by the war on terror, and overarching all this looms the possibility of catastrophic climate change.

Why study the international situation? My workmate told me what no doubt many people feel, that she could not bear to know too much about the horrors of the world that lie beyond her control. We on the contrary, understand that however weak we are, history is made by people but not in conditions of our choosing. In this talk I aim to outline the shape of the world, and draw out some practical conclusions for our work. [Read more…]