Housing battle in Glen Innes

679_stand-to-stop-nikis-eviction_imageby Joshua Sims and Sam Snell

Ioela Niki Rauti is standing firm in the face of property developers.

Late 2014 Niki Rauti was served a 90 day eviction notice to vacate the Housing New Zealand state home she has lived in for over twenty years. With support from the local community, young activists and the Tamaki Housing group, she has fought attempts at eviction and won. The saga of Niki’s fight has been on-going for six years and she is now facing another eviction after the expiration of a new 90 day eviction notice served November 2016. With the possession order being granted by an adjudicator on Friday 24th February, Niki and her supporters have been kept on their toes, but have had some reprieve in a stay of proceedings being granted putting the eviction temporarily on hold.

Residents of Glen Innes along with members of the public and various organisations marched in numbers to Nikis’ residence at 14 Taniwha Street on the 17th January in solidarity and to begin mass occupation of the property. Roughly 300 people descended upon Niki’s property in two separate marches, one comprised solely of locals and the other of interested parties. Since then, the occupation has been intermittent.

This home is occupied! reads the banner outside Niki’s home. [Read more…]

Lyttleton port workers strike

families-matterBy Martin Gregory

 

Pushes from the bosses for greater ‘flexibility’ – the idea that workers should be available whenever their employer pleases, without the ability to plan for family and personal time – are coming in all sorts of industries in New Zealand. Maritime Union members in Lyttleton are resisting this at their work, and their cause should be supported by all workers.

 

Members of the Maritime Union are flexing their muscles at Lyttleton container port. They took strike action on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 January, and the union has given notices of further strikes from Friday 3 through to Sunday 5 February and on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 February. The International Socialist Organisation wishes the port workers well and that they win their demands in full.

[Read more…]

Making sense of politics in 2016

key-and-english

Key ‘framed his face to all occasions’. Will English be able to do the same?

Andrew Tait gave this presentation to the International Socialist Organisation Hui-a-tau in Auckland last month.

 

2016, in New Zealand, has not been marked by major struggles or economic disasters or booms. The Key crew, masters anyway of administering sleeping gas, have managed to avoid major scandals or divisions. On the contrary, one of the worst of a bad lot, Judith Collins, has been rehabilitated after the Oravida scandal and retaken her place on the front bench. Bill English and Paula Bennett inherit a remarkably stable and strong government.

 

Although overshadowed by National, the reformist left have made some interesting moves – promising first to work together to replace National (a position the Greens have long avoided taking before an election) and then cementing that with a double-pronged attack on immigration tailor-made to dovetail with New Zealand First, the likely third party in any post-Key government.

[Read more…]

Blame the bosses – not migrants!

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Indian students fight deportation in Auckland. Migrant workers are part of the struggle – not victims to be pitied.

by Dougal McNeill

So this month saw the end of Planet Key. Bill English’s ascension gives us an opportunity to survey political possibilities for our movement. There is plenty for workers to feel angry about, and plenty about which the Government has nothing but the feeble excuses. From the housing situation in Auckland to the recent embarrassing back down in the face of union opposition to further education ‘reforms’, the last year has not gone all the government’s way. What has been missing, as usual, is any sort of concentrated opposition. There is the grounds to organise a credible opposition to National – just look at the inequality, poverty, and job insecurity that is the norm in New Zealand at the moment. But, shamefully, Labour have decided to pursue an anti-immigrant line. This is not helping them electorally, with September registering some of the worst poll results for Labour in a long time, and, more dangerously, it threatens to pull the whole 2017 election in a racist direction. This will be a disaster for working people. Instead of rejecting Labour’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, too many leaders in the trade union movement have accepted its logic.

 

Immigrants are not to blame for workers’ problems, and that we need to focus our political fire where it belongs – at the capitalist class and the National government.

[Read more…]

Class struggle – key to liberation

auckland-health-workers-strike

Auckland health workers strike 2015. Photo: RNZ

Shomi Yoon gave this talk to the International Socialism Day School, Newtown, Wellington, last month.

It seems obvious that we need to understand the world in order to change it. Socialist strategy and tactics for liberation is not only about the downfall of capitalism but also for genuine liberation for all.

A Marxist understanding of class and understanding that this is the central divide in society is crucial. But more than this, it’s the working class that can transform society for genuine liberation. I want to contest the idea that putting class at the centre of our analysis means that other forms of oppression are secondary in importance to class – far from it – it provides a concrete analysis of where the oppression comes from and how we can overcome it. [Read more…]

Living Wage win in Wellington

living-wage-wellington

Living Wage supporters, including the author, mobilised to support this motion.

By Martin Gregory

 

The Greater Wellington Regional Council, meeting on 28 September, unanimously passed a Living Wage motion proposed by Sue Kedgely. I was one of a group of Living Wage activists present at the meeting. [Read more…]

No Deportations!

no-deportations-oby Josh O’Sullivan

On Monday night in quiet leafy suburbs in Lynfield, the silence was broken by calls for justice from a crowd of around 50 people. Justice for the 150 Indian students who have been swindled by immigration agents overseas and tertiary institutions here in New Zealand. The National Party was hosting a public meeting at the Lynfield Community Church behind locked doors and a police line, refusing to even hear the plight of these exploited students.  The meeting was a meet and greet with Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and National list MP Parmjeet Parmar with various locals including the owners of the International Academy, and National list MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, who earlier in the week likened the students to faulty fridges from China during a radio interview. [Read more…]

Resisting the pro-police backlash after Dallas

Marching in San Francisco after the police murders of Philandro Castile and Alton Stirling (Josh On | SW)by Nicole Colson

THE POLICE KILLING of two Black men–Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, a suburb of the Twin Cities in Minnesota–last week horrified people around the world and brought protesters into the streets in large numbers across the country to proclaim that Black Lives Matter.

Yet just as quickly, in Dallas, a man who shot and killed police officers as BLM supporters were demonstrating–killing five officers and wounding several more before being killed himself by police–provided the means for the media and law enforcement to shift the spotlight away from the epidemic of police violence and blame those who have risen up to protest. [Read more…]

Review: Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell)

Raising_Expectations_CMYK-ea2bdfd656192ed171c5e1190134e229Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell): My Decade Fighting for the Labor Movement

by Jane McAlevey,

Verso, 2014.

Reviewed by Alastair Reith

Workers today, in more cases than not, bear passive witness to a world where we have less power and a smaller share of society’s wealth than in generations. It’s rare for us to see any substantial challenge to this take place, and rarer still for us to become more than witnesses.

In Raising Hell and Raising Expectations Jane McAlevey gives a no holds barred account of her years as a full time organiser in the American trade union movement. Her account of a health care workers insurgency in Nevada, USA, is at times inspiring, at others hilarious, and at still others deeply disturbing. As memoirs go it’s not primarily focused on getting to know her as a person, but rather on telling the story of how she came to be where she did; struggling to rebuild a movement for a more just and equal world and facing obstacles to this from employers, politicians and even from other trade unionists. [Read more…]

Defeat the Bill! The struggle against the Employment Contracts Bill, 1991

Stop Contracts Billby Dougal McNeill

 

‘We’ll need to go on strike, an ongoing strike.’  That’s how Jane Otuafi, a delegate in the Engineers’ Union, responded in March 1991 to the recently elected National government’s plan for an Employment Contracts Act. [1] ‘A general strike is the only answer,’ job delegate Sa Leutele of the Northern Distribution Union agreed. ‘I’ve had several meetings to explain to the boys that the only way we can fight is to stick together. Otherwise nobody will survive after the Bill.’ [2]

Leutele’s words were prophetic. The Employment Contracts Act, once it passed, had a devastating effect on workers’ rights and living standards in New Zealand. It dealt a body blow to the trade union movement, one from which we’ve never recovered. Union membership almost halved between 1991 and 1995, with union density going from 41.5% to 21.7%, and has staggered in the private sector ever since. Workers’ organisation and confidence – expressed in working days ‘lost’ to strike activity – has been hit harder, with historic low levels of industrial struggle through the 1990s and 2000s. ‘The ECA,’ as Brian Roper puts it, ‘effectively deunionised and casualised large sectors of the workforce.’ [3] The viciously unequal New Zealand we live in now is shaped by the legacy of the ECA: 10% of the population owning 52% of the wealth; casualization and low pay the norm across the service industries; homeless families living in cars a ‘new reality’; and racialized poverty resulting in a Māori unemployment rate twice the national average. [4] The union movement, a basic line of defence for working people, held this back. It’s no wonder, then, that National set out to destroy the unions as effective fighting tools. [Read more…]