Wednesday, December 21, 2011


On December 20th, supporters of Occupy Auckland marched from the occupation in Aotea Square to the US Consulate, to protest the American government's material support of the Military Junta that killed ten people and injured over 900 more in vicious attacks on Tahrir Square the day before.

The next day, December 21st, the Auckland Council was successful in getting a Court Order to evict Occupy Auckland from Aotea Square, and has given 48 hours notice for the occupiers to leave. Political organisations and social movements such as MANA, the Unite Union, and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party have also been singled out for draconian attack, in a ruling that sees legitimate political protest criminalised.

This was done by Len Brown's Council, a council and a mayor that purports to be left wing, a Mayor that purports to represent workers, the low paid, Maori and Pasifika. Yet we see in his city state tenants facing eviction from their homes in Glen Innes, workers fighting for fair pay locked out in the Council Controlled Ports of Auckland, and now basic democratic rights being suspended and attacked.

Len Brown must be held accountable for his attacks.
On Thursday 22nd December, at 4pm,

people will gather outside Auckland's City Hall,
to ask the question-

Len Brown- whose side are you on?

Defend democracy- from Tahrir to Aotea Square.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

From Aotea to Tahrir- Solidarity with the Egyptian Revolution

From Tahrir to Aotea- Solidarity with the Egyptian Revolution.
Down with the military dictatorship-
meet at Occupy in Aotea Sq at 5pm Tuesday December 20th,
then go down to US Consulate for picket against US arming Egypt's Junta.

The “Cabinet Offices” Massacre: a new crime by the sons of Mubarak in power

Statement by the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt
17 December 2011

9 martyrs … 500 injured … this is the result of confrontations between the Egyptian Occupying Forces and the revolutionaries in a fresh attempt to bring the revolution to its knees and to bring back the Mubarak regime. And why not?

After all, the leaders of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces are the sons of Mubarak, and they are loyal to their economic self-interests.

The generals of SCAF control around 20 percent of the economy and are completely opposed to the interests of millions of working people who barely scrape a living. Most of them can’t find jobs which offer the chance of a decent life or even offer the hope of changing their lives for the better.

The “valiant” armed forces, members of Military Investigations and gangs of government-backed thugs attacked the peaceful sit-in in the street of the Cabinet Offices. After fabricating an argument with Abboudi, one of the young ultras [football fans] who was playing football, they harassed him, subjected him to electric shocks and abuse, and then refused to release him for more than an hour.

This turned out to be merely a pretext for a pre-prepared attack to disperse the sit-in by force and burn the protesters’ tents.

The old lies are being circulated that the local residents are offended by the protesters, even though the street where the sit-in is located does not block the traffic, and the area itself is a district of government buildings, ministries and embassies and not a residential area.

Thugs and the commandos of “our” army in civilian clothes took over government buildings which are now effectively under military occupation, including the parliament building itself, in order to throw stones and glass at the protesters and activists who joined them in Qasr al-Aini street to express their anger at the attack on the sit-in.

Dozens of demonstrators have fallen to baton charges, water cannons, rubber bullet rounds and live ammunition.

These developments follow a rising tide of workers’ protests, and the announcement by large numbers of workers’ organisations of their intention to demonstrate and occupy in order to continue the revolutionary tasks of cleansing public institutions of the remnants of the Mubarak regime and the redistribution of wealth in society.

This is why it was necessary to break up the sit-in by armed force in order to block the possibility of fusion between the working masses who brought down the Mubarak regime by their strikes in the last days of his rule, and the revolutionaries in the sit-in outside the Cabinet Offices.

These events also come as the end of the parliamentary elections is approaching, and with it the beginning of demands for the army to return to its barracks and the formation of an elected government.

All this points to a growing tendency within the army which wants to create chaos and panic so that the generals can seize the reins of power by popular demand, or at least to muzzle the revolutionaries until political positions and powers can be divided between the opportunist political forces which consented to enter the battle of parliament under military rule.

There is no alternative to continuing the revolution in the public squares, in the universities and in the workplaces … there is no substitute for working to win the popular masses, and at the heart of them the working class, to the revolutionary camp.

If we do not, the Occupying Forces, under the leadership of Tantawi will continue to kill revolutionaries and abort the revolution.

O masses of our people! The massacres of the Cabinet Offices have brought down the government of Ganzoury, who spent his life serving his master, Mubarak, and who wanted to enter the Cabinet over the blood of the revolutionaries.

We must fight together for these demands in order to achieve the goals of the revolutions to win bread, freedom and social justice, and so that the blood of the martyrs has not been spilled in vain:

1. A revolutionary government with full powers
2. Retribution for the martyrs and the trial of the murderers on the military council
3. Reduction in prices and a rise in wages
4. Nationalisation of the stolen privatised companies to provide work for the unemployed
The military council is leading the counter-revolution … but the revolution continues.

The Revolutionary Socialists
17 December 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Len Brown - Which side are you on?

More photos from Saturday.

Hip hop is on the move

One of the most inspiring things about the generally dull election this year has been the radicalisation of hiphop culture. The release of Home Brew and Tourettes's track Listen to us, the mobilisation of Maori voters by South Auckland hiphop artist Young Sid and the release of Genocide's anthem Stand Up for Mana show that the mood is shifting amongst youth. John Key's Government isn't just passively disliked but now actively hated and campaigned against by the organic intellectuals of the young, poor and the restless.

The aggressive and racist tactics of the New Zealand police towards first Tiki Taane in Tauranga and just recently Scribe in Wellington for freestyling an anti-police rap is illustrative of the arbitrary and discriminatory nature of New Zealand's justice system where young Maori and Polynesian men are targeted and profiled by an aggressive police force disconnected with the communities they operate in.

Maybe the clearest sign that hiphop is on the move is the standing of activist rapper Jayson Gardiner as a Mana Movement candidate in Tauranga. His latest track People's Party clearly shows the potential of Mana to bring radical, anti-capitalist, pro-Maori, working class politics to young people around the country. Gardiner, coming from the site of the Rena grounding and an area of New Zealand with high youth unemployment may quickly emerge as the voice of a restless generation revolution that won't pay for the crisis and can't wait for change.

If the hiphop generation in Mana follows their comrades overseas into becoming generation revolution then it will cause shockwaves across Aotearoa and inspire youth in our Pacific neighbours like Fiji, Tonga and the Solomon Islands to rise up as well.

Photos from anti-eviction march

Hundreds marched on Queen Street on Saturday to protest the government's plans to evict families from state houses in Glen Innes. A massive Mana presence, a big Socialist Aotearoa contingent and support from Greens and Labour all bolstered the demonstration. G.I. residents reiterated their commitment to resist the evictions and stand together against the destuction of their community.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Throwing kids to the market

The announcement of National's coalition deal with Act MP to create charter schools in Christchurch and south Auckland has been condemned by education unions, principals and left political parties. Predictably it is being welcomed with open arms by the Business Roundtable and other nefarious neo-liberals. Disturbing has been the creep into Christchurch reminiscent of the drive for charter school creation in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. In New Orleans 70 percent of students go to charter schools, where the schools have been "expelling students with learning disabilities at twice the rate of charter schools elsewhere in the country. In the UK where charter schools are known as academies teachers' unions are discussing strike waves to stop the sell off of public schools. As one teacher said, "There is a plan, cooked up in corporate boardrooms, to make profit out of state education."

Socialist Aotearoa stands behind pupils, teachers and parents who will fight the sell off. The corporate agenda National and Act are pushing through is about allowing corporations to make a profit out of education by throwing kids to the market. We support the Quality Public Education Coalition which will fight these reforms and win, just as they held off the imposition of the bulk funding of teachers salaries in the 1990s. Their statement on charter schools is excellent reading.

Charter schools proposal uses the poor to advance the agenda of the rich

QPEC condemns the government proposal to trial charter schools in low-income areas of Christchurch and South Auckland.

Instead of confronting the causes of educational underachievement, and rewarding those frontline schools that battle to overcome the effects of poverty on children’s minds, the government is using the issue as cover to import a failed private business model from the US which will further damage education in these communities.

“Let us be clear” says John Minto, Deputy Chairperson of QPEC, “This is not about helping our most disadvantaged children, but about smuggling in new forms of private schooling. Charter schools are effectively private schools run with public funding”.

“This has nothing to do with improving education but everything to do with creating private business opportunities for wealthy investors. National using the poor to advance the agenda of the rich”.

John Minto said that it is particularly nauseating to hear the suggestion that Act leader John Banks and Prime Minister John Key are concerned to improve education achievement for kids in low-income areas.

Both send their kids to wealthy private schools and John Banks has a long history of racism directed against Maori and Pacifika communities of South Auckland who predominate in education underachievement.

Prime Minister John Key claims that opposition to charter schools is based on vested interests within the education sector. This is humbug. Instead it is vested business interests which are behind this bid to privatise education.

QPEC will mobilise its resources to continue to promote solutions to improve education for New Zealand kids and we will vigorously oppose failed business models hoisted on the backs of the kids who need the most help to achieve in education.

QPEC’s 2005 factfile on charter schools is appended to this release.

QPEC FactFile: Charter schools

What are they?

‘Charter schools’ is a term used in the United States to refer to schools which have been given a level of autonomy from school district and/or state control. The amount of autonomy varies extremely widely. On the one hand, some charter schools are given a small amount of power to spend funds as they choose, but without the ability to choose their own staff. At the other end of the spectrum, there are a range of ‘contracted out’ schools (see Edison and private schools), new schools based on principles of autonomy, a ban on union membership in some schools (and thus a ban on access to collective contracts) and other such approaches.

There appears to be over 2,500 charter schools currently in operation, up from nil in 1991, although most are in a few key American (and Canadian) states. Charter schools tend to be much smaller than ordinary public schools (average roll 137, compared with 475), and there is little money available for start-up costs. Many, particularly those run by community organisations or groups of teachers, are very starved of resources. They serve a wide range of populations. Some are focused very strongly on poor, black and immigrant communities. Others appear to engage in some cream-skimming behaviour. Most are unable, at least formally, to select their intake except through ballots.

The average charter school has less autonomy than the average New Zealand school – it could be argued that our whole system is made up of charter schools. But there are differences. The ability to start small, community-focused schools (which exists in theory in New Zealand under s.156 of the Education Act but barely at all in practice) has brought about some interesting approaches. The English equivalent of charter schools were formerly known as ‘grant-maintained’ schools and City Technology Colleges, but the new push in that country is for so-called specialist schools.

Who advocates them?

They are advocated by a very wide range of groups, which is why they have proved a popular intervention. Charter schools are supported by neo-liberals as a move towards publicly-funded vouchers for private education. At the other end of the political spectrum, they are supported by community organisations who want to ensure access to education for school drop-outs, mainly black youth in the inner-cities. The following quote demonstrates the diversity:
…. the condition of education – particularly in urban areas populated by our nation’s most impoverished, disadvantaged children – remains perilous. Performance data show wide, persistent gaps in student achievement... Increasingly, educational reformers view charter schools as a way to provide a more effective education to students who are ill-served by the public school system as it is currently structured. Support for charter schools comes from a wide array of groups, including conservatives who also support taxpayer-financed vouchers; business leaders… African American and Hispanic civic groups; community leaders; and parents searching for ways to reform public education without totally destroying or abandoning it (Fusarelli, 2002 p. 21).
Charter schools tend to be strongly supported by the parents of children who attend them:
There is, in all surveys, high levels of satisfaction with charter schools. Parents rate them superior “in terms of class sizes, school sizes, attention and teachers, quality of instruction, and curriculum. Parents also reported that their children were doing better academically in the charter school” (ibid).
Charter schools are a very popular intervention, but research evidence shows that the promise of innovation and improved educational outcomes is often not borne out in practice. These schools may be popular, but it is unclear whether they are effective.

Main arguments in favour

From the neo-liberal perspective charter schools may offer freedom from state interventions, shifting accountability to the marketplace (a charter school will only survive if it attracts students). Some states allow charter schools to by-pass local teacher employment agreements, and, as a result, have hired large numbers of unqualified teachers (in Texas, 54% of charter school teachers are un-registered).

From the community perspective, charter schools can be a progressive force. Milo Cutter, a teacher who worked with other teachers to set up a charter school, describes a community-based school for at-risk adolescents which maintains a student:staff ratio of 6:1. The school was able to survive in its first few years only because a private power company provided about a third of its funding. It now survives on a mixture of school district and grants funding (Cutter, 1996).

There is some evidence of ‘innovation’ in the literature, including: longer school days and Saturday classes; mandatory summer school courses; bilingual education programmes; schools for at-risk students; alternative curricula such as the international baccalaureate; and a range of teacher initiatives such as multi-age grouping, mainstreaming, use of technology to enhance student learning, performance-based assessments and project based learning.

A paper lauding California’s charter school experience is fairly typical of the literature (Premack, 1996). The focus is on the ‘diversity’ of the more than 100 schools (many of which cater for special needs populations) rather than genuine curriculum innovation. This raises an important question. Is the aim of charter schools in practice merely to deliver the curriculum in ways which meet the needs of niche special needs groups? If that is the case, why is the whole raft of organisational reform needed?

Charter schools may not be selective; they must take whoever comes and places must be filled by ballot when there is overcrowding. This is in contrast to s.156 schools in New Zealand which are of ‘special character’, allowing the school to choose who attends on a range of pre-determined characteristics (e.g. Discovery One in Christchurch selects on parental involvement criteria).

Main arguments against

There are many excellent examples in the literature of innovative school programs in operation in charter schools. These involve, music, exploratory learning, individual tuition and a range of learning tasks. But it is rarely stated is the programme is being compared with. The un-named and undefined ‘public school system’ sits behind the rhetoric, as if each classroom, each lesson and each teacher is uniform; and as if the students sit behind their lined-up desks each day and appropriate knowledge (or not) in a Dickensian fashion. It is as if any notion that ordinary public schools, which educate the vast majority of American youth, can be effective or innovative has been abandoned. So instead the only ‘innovation’ being sought is through these charter schools and through voucher schemes. This is a general criticism of the so-called reform literature, and also of the political forces that advocate reform.

It is hard to evaluate the scheme as a whole. There are huge differences between regions in terms of the rules, funding and requirements of charter schools. For example, one study noted:

Two of the more controversial aspects of the charter school phenomenon, however, are that in ten states, for-profit organisations can legally manage and operate charter schools and in some states, church-related organisations are eligible to sponsor charter schools (Bloom, 2003 p.145).

One California-based research team examined whether the more market oriented charter schools (a subset of all charter schools) were more likely to engage in cream-skimming behaviour (Lacireno-Paquet et al, 2002). They found that, while cream-skimming was not evident, market-oriented charter schools were less likely to enrol children with special needs:

While non-market-oriented charter schools are serving equal or higher proportions of needy populations than the traditional public school system, those with more entrepreneurial aspirations are not. The percentage of special education students served is nearly twice as high in non-market-oriented charters than in market-oriented ones (ibid p. 155).

There are some underlying issues in charter schools. At its more extreme end, charter school legislation is an invitation for any and every special interest group to start and run their own school according to their own values. Some say this is a good thing – that the public system attempts a useless ‘one size fits all’ exercise. But in increasingly diverse communities worldwide, the school yard is often the only place where diverse cultures meet, and if that is lost, is this not a recipe for increased inter-group tensions? Also, there is a major problem of accountability for results.

Finally, while underfunded, charter schools do remove funds from the general public school system which appears, in many parts of the United States, to be of very poor quality. Taking funds from a poor quality system, in which probably the least-motivated families remain, to put into new, small, inefficient, struggling schools seems a recipe for disaster at a systemic level, and ignore the very parts of the system that most need to be improved.

Can the differences be resolved?

Lubienski makes the point that, after a decade of increasing popularity of charter schools, and large amounts of research, we still do not know much about any actual changes brought about by charter schools. His paper reviews “all known research and scholarly studies available that reported evidence of innovative practices in charter schools” (ibid p. 406). He says:

…there is a notable paucity of classroom practices developed in charter schools that were not already available outside the charter school model (ibid, 413).

Lubienski’s meta-analysis uncovers a sustained pattern of “organisational change coupled with pedagogical and curricula conformity” (ibid) in charter schools. This finding has significant implications for policy, not only in but also beyond the United States. If every school in New Zealand is a charter school, then have our reforms stifled rather than encouraged pedagogical reform? If so, might alternative approaches, such as the drive for specialist schools in the UK be more effective in achieving quality reform rather than administrative and organisational change?

Lubienski’s paper concludes with a long discussion of why pedagogical innovation is virtually absent from charter schools. Reasons appear to be supply side – inadequate resources, a lack of vision, failures of the competitive model – and demand side, in terms of what might be the inherent conservatism of parents over what they perceive constitutes a high quality education. The shadow of the upper middle class traditional learning institution may have blighted the innovative potential of charter schools in much the same way that reform in other countries appears to simply reproduce a uniformed, disciplinarian hierarchy.

Much of the literature discusses the financial problems of charter schools in terms of both start-up costs and ongoing funding. Sugarman (2002) notes that there are funding problems endemic to the whole US school system, as well as some issues specific to charter schools. The four issues that are system wide are: inter-district inequalities (an issue taken up by Kozol, 1991); intra-district inequalities; inadequate spending; and special needs funding. The specific issues relating to charter schools, many of which have been covered above, include: how to count pupils (especially when there is a longer school day); enrolling and counting distance learners; the monitoring and reporting regimes to ensure accountability; and the need for supplemental funds (because of high building costs or other issues) (Sugarman, 2002). The author concludes that the growth of charter schools has ironically brought attention to bear on overall inadequacies in the funding regime of US schools, which may need to be addressed in the future.

It seems that charter schools cannot overturn the inequities of the public schooling system. Indeed, a key research finding is that equity provisions tend not to be enforced even where they exist. A worrying element is the growth in segregation, and charter schools cater for specific niche markets. More importantly, it appears there is significant between-school inequities in charter schools (Wamba & Ascher, 2003).

What about the future?

Wells (1998) describes the laissez-faire nature of charter schools as providing freedom but virtually no support. “Furthermore, without additional resources targeted towards the poorest communities, charter school operators have little power to overcome existing inequalities within the large and uneven public education system”.

Wronkovich notes that charter schools may leverage broader change in the schooling system, which he believes is sorely needed:

…little substantive change has occurred in the basic structure of the public system of education in decades. The standard of 180 days of 6.5 hours each that was established at the start of the 20th century has persisted. Compartmentalised instruction based on the model of the industrial revolution is still the norm… We now teach everything from sex education to AIDS education to driver education. In many schools we provide two meals a day to children and try to cope with the many social ills they face. It is no wonder that some present day reformers have sought to escape the overburdening mandates. They see the public education system as one that has become confused about its mission (Wronkovich, 2000 pp.5-6).

However, this view begs the question of why, if broad-based school reform is needed, such an indirect route is expected to be successful. If the public sector needs reforming, why not reform it? The charter school campaigners would argue, it seems, that the public system is too bureaucratic to change, and yet allows for the possibility that this offshoot system will respond quickly to market forces.

The hopes of neo-liberal charter school supporters that they will soon lead to universal vouchers across the USA seem unlikely to be realised. Voucher schemes are not increasing in size or scope, whereas charter schools are increasing in number. The long-term effects of continued charter school growth is likely to be a schooling system which is increasingly fragmented (even more so than in the past), populated by large numbers of small, niche schools of variable quality. Not a model to be emulated by any system that cares about the overall quality of its schools, even though some of the community-based innovations are attractive.

Political views in New Zealand

When politicians talk about ‘more choice’ for parents they are either talking about some kind of voucher scheme or some kind of charter school model. Key political lessons from charter schools are that they are under-funded, when they are able to bypass collective agreements they employ a lot of unqualified teachers, and that, while there are a lot of really interesting individual schools being run by community agencies, the overall increase in innovation is minor and there is no evidence of improved educational outcomes. As well, questions of how to make charter schools properly accountable for their performance remain unanswered.

The National Party education policy does not overtly adopt a charter school model, but talks about increasing autonomy by several initiatives: bulk-funding teacher salaries (and abolishing national collective employment agreements), allowing schools which have a “reputation for excellence” to own their own property and allowing these same schools to ‘take over’ other schools.


Abowitz, K. K. (2002). From Public Education to Educational Publics. Clearing House, 76(1) , p. 34-38.
Bloom, I. (2003). The New Parental Rights Challenge to School Control: Has the Supreme Court Mandated School Choice? Journal of Law & Education, 32(2) , p. 139-83.
Bulkley, K., & Fisler, J. (2003). A decade of charter schools: From theory to practice. Educational Policy, 17(3), 317-342.
Clinchy, E. (1995). The Changing Nature of Our Magnet Schools. New Schools, New Communities, 11(2) , p. 47-50.
Cutter, M. (1996). City academy. Phi Delta Kappan, 78(1), 26.
Fusarelli, L. D. (2002). Charter schools: implcations for teachers and administrators. The Clearing House, 76(1), 20-25.
Garn, G. (2001). Moving from Bureaucratic to Market Accountability: The Problem of Imperfect Information. Educational Administration Quarterly, 37(4) , p. 571-99.
Henig, J. R. H., T.T.; LacirenoPaquet, N.; Moser M. (2003). Privatization, Politics, and Urban Services: The Political Behavior of Charter Schools. Journal of Urban Affairs, 25(1), 37-54.
Jones, T. H., Jr. (1998). Public School Options: Magnet and Charter Schools. School Business Affairs, 64(6) , p. 3-6,8-12.
Kennedy, M. (2002). Charter Schools: Threat or Boon to Public Schools? American School & University, 75(4) , p. 18-26.
Kozol, J. (1991). Savage Inequalities: Children in America's schools. New York: Harper Perennial.
Lacireno-Paquet, N., Holyoke, T. T., Moser, M., & Henig, J. R. (2002). Creaming versus Cropping: Charter School Enrollment Practices in Response to Market Incentives. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 24(2) , p. 145-58.
Leonard, J. (2002). The Case of the First-Year Charter School. Urban Education, 37(2) , p. 219-40.
Lubienski, C. (2003). Innovation in education markets: Theory and evidence on the impact of competition and choice in charter schools. American Educational Research Journal, 40(2), 395-443.
Premack, E. (1996). Charter schools: California's education reform 'power tool'. Phi Delta Kappan, 78(1), 60.
Sugarman, S. D. (2002). Charter School Funding Issues. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 10(34).
Thomas, D., & Borwege, K. (1996). A choice to charter. Phi Delta Kappan, 78(1), 29.
Wamba, N. G., & Ascher, C. (2003). An Examination of Charter School Equity. Education and Urban Society, 35(4) , p. 462-76.
Weiher, G. R., & Tedin, K. L. (2002). Does Choice Lead to Racially Distinctive Schools? Charter Schools and Household Preferences. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 21(1) , p. 79-92.
Wells, A. S. (1998). Charter school reform in California: Does it meet expectations? Phi Delta Kappan., 80(4), 305-313.
Wells, A. S. (1999). California's Charter Schools: Promises v. Performance. American Educator, 23(1) , p. 18-21,24,52.
Windler, W. (1996). Colorado's charter schools: A spark for change and a catalyst for reform. Phi Delta Kappan, 78(1), 66.
Wronkovich, M. (2000). Will Charter Schools Lead to a Systemic Reform of Public Education? American Secondary Education, 28(4) , p. 3-8.

Monday, December 05, 2011

"We will help the Poor to fight the Rich"

At the Mana Movement's Post Electoral Hui in Otara on Sunday October 4th, newly elected President Annette Sykes declares war on poverty in Aotearoa, promising that Mana "will move this country decidedly to the Left" and that "We will help the Poor to fight the Rich".

Friday, December 02, 2011

To Hell with this- Voices of Struggle from the Unite Conference

Unite Union held its 2nd National Conference in early December, with over 180 organisers coming from sites as diverse as Language schools, Cinemas, Security, Hotels, Skycity Casino, Call Centres and of course, the quick service restaurants of KFC, McDonalds and Burger King. Members of Socialist Aotearoa have been active with Unite union from the start as members, delegates and organisers, and it was powerful to see such a large turn out of workers ready not just to defend, but to fight for better wages and conditions.

At a cross union panel on Where Now for the Workers Movement after the Election, the argument for workers to step up and go on the offensive won huge applause from delegates.

and there wasn't a dry eye in the house after the testimony of locked out boner Meat Leon Perns testified about the plight of the CMP Meat workers in Marton.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

G.I. mass meeting rises up against Tory bureaucrats

Yvonne from GI names the price-

"Old people will die alone"-

Local Unite organiser Joe Carolan- "Young workers will never have a house"-

Tory tells the people- "Sit down and be quiet"

Bureaucrat Graham goes to the Markets- PPP behind social cleansing

Evil Tory is a "Change manager"- if you want jobs and houses, you need to upskill

Evil Tory Bureaucrat Part Two

Christmas on the picketline

100 Marton meatworkers look set to spend Christmas on the picketline as their employer refuses to backdown on its attack on these workers living standards. ANZCO CMP, a profitable overseas owned corporation wants a 20% pay cut from these workers and cuts to allowances

The workers have been locked out over 40 days now but are standing strong, bolstered by donations of food and money from unionists and socialists around the country as well as solid community support. The workers are also reaching out to other union members and have been joined on the picket by firefighters, meat workers from around the country and students from Wellington. The locked out union members are holding their headhigh and know that what happens in Marton will have an impact all around the country.

If the working class can get a win here against a greedy multinational then workers will be inspired to fightback all around the country for more pay and against attacks on workers' rights. As locked out worker Steve McGinity said, “We’re not just doing this for our kids, we’re doing it for all meat workers and for all kiwis who are facing attacks on their work rights.”

The CTU is also helping spread the struggle by targeting McDonald's restaurants with pickets and calling for the fast food giant to boycott ANZCO CMP meat. ANZCO are the main supplier of meat patties to McDonalds. Three year-old Tarshay Fiti, whose mother Tasha is locked, out led 100 workers on a march from mediation services down to the local McDonalds in Palmerston North. Children on the picket held signs saying “ANZCO Unhappy Meal”, “ANZCO McLockout” and “McDs can help get my dad back to work.” One of the locked out workers, a solo mother of eight Amanda Chase headed to Britain to talk at the annual conference for Unite, Britain's biggest union.

All this action is important but the key to this dispute will be the ability of workers to shut down the plant like they did in mid-November when a mass picket was organised with supporters from around the country. If this type of action can be sustained like it was in Melbourne at the Baiada chicken factory, workers can win huge gains and get a taste of their power. Workers' power. When workers win a fight it gives them the confidence to provide solidarity and assistance to other workers involved in struggle. Small fights can quickly become big struggles and then a mass workers movement can develop fighting for higher wages and a revolution against poverty now.

You can make a donation to keep these workers and their families fed. The KiwiBank account number is Name: Disputes Fund. Account number: 38-9007-0894028-08 ".

Families pledge to stay put in Glen Innes

In the working class suburb of Glen Innes 160 families are preparing to resist mass evictions as Housing New Zealand (HNZ) moves to sell off huge blocks of state housing land to private developers.

The struggle has been bubbling away in Glen Innes for some months and several protests have been held but now community opposition is building as family after family pledge to stay in their homes and resist the evictions. At a public meeting held at the end of the November an action committee was formed and a march on Town Hall is being planned for 10 December to send a message to the Government and Len Brown's city council that working class families will not not be moved from their homes. During the heated meeting it was revealed that the Chairperson of the project to "redevelop" the land into private sections was also the branch President of the local National Party. Tenants shouted loudly for her resignation.

Many of the residents described to the HNZ reps what the real consequences of forcing families from their homes would be through intimidation tactics. Elderly people would be cut off from the communities they had lived and worked in all their lives. Disabled people would be further isolated from their friends and support networks. Children would be forced to move schools as families were relocated as far away as South Auckland.

Pacific communities who came in the 1970s and who have supported each other through thick and thin would be broken up and seperated from the community facilities like swimming pools and churches that they have fundraised for and looked after. One woman recounted how as a kid she had collected bottles for the swimming pool. Other residents talked about how it would break up families as people were forced into smaller accomodation losing their families homes. Maori tenants talked about being seperated from their local marae which is where they go when they are "Hungry, cold or have had their power cut off." The evictions will cut people off from their community.

During the meeting every speaker who called for civil disobedience against the evictions was given big cheers. One speaker described how residents will be foreced into high rise units, "Ghetto B", referring to the arbitrary division of the community into "A" zone which will be privatised and "B" zone which will be overcrowded and underresourced.

When state houses were originally built they were designed to be "Homes fit for Cabinet Ministers" in keeping with the egalitarian aims of the 1935 first Labour Government of Michael Joseph Savage. These homes were built with kitchens in the east so the hard working people of Aotearoa could wake with the sun on their face. Soldiers coming home from war were given these houses and told they could live there for as long as they wanted. Some of those old soldiers are sstill living in their home, like the partner of housing activist Sue Henry.

Other speakers discussed the National Party's plan to roll these privatisation plans out around Auckland and that they had Mangere in their sights next. Mangere, we heard, is already rolling, getting organised to fight the evictions too. Local residents who were also members of the State Housing Action Coalition formed to fight evictions in the 1990s talked about the need for unity, direct action and not to trust the HNZ bureaucrats.

Mana Movement activist John Minto pledged his support to the meeting and called for a march to bring the issues of housing to national attention. This was agreed to and is planned for Saturday 10 December, meeting at 12noon at Britomart, in Auckland CBD. Join the resistance. March against the evictions and let's together save Auckland's communities from privatisation.

Email to get involved.

Anti-Capitalist Summer Special

Kauaeranga valley, Coromandel: On November 28, just two days after the general election in the beautiful, native forest covered valleys of the Coromandel peninsula resistance to John Key's new National Government and the corporate plunderers they bring with them was already beginning.

50 locals, Coromandel Watchdog and Green MP Catherine Delahunty escort from the valley of waterfalls, walking tracks and mountainbike trails, surveyors from gold mining giant Newmont.

Coromandel Watchdog co-ordinator Renee Annan told the media, “The public needs to know that the mining companies are still intent on mining Schedule Four land and that despite the victory in 2010, exploration activities cannot be legally stopped on this land. That is why we are taking non-violent direct action. Today's peaceful protest is just the first of many unless Newmont leave our area.”

Despite the election of a right wing Government the massive swing to the Greens and the rise of the Mana Movement show that hundreds of thousands of people are uncomfortable with the snowballing ecological destruction, the increasing wealth of the richest 1% and the unchecked power of corporations to pollute and exploit in John Key's "Brighter Future".

National plan to allow more deep sea oil drilling, more fracking, more carbon emmissions, more coal and gold mining, more road building and more urban sprawl. The clean, green New Zealand is becoming a country of oil spills, habitat destruction and smog ridden urban skylines. Just like the residents of the Kauaeranga valley there will be thousands of people prepared to get involved in campaigns and struggles to defend our environment - urban, rural and wilderness. These people will be Maori and Pakeha, from small towns and big cities, students and workers. United against a Government and the capitalist system that treats our whenua as an unlimited resource and our tangaroa as an infinite garbage can.

This new environmental movement has the potential to bring down the Government, pointing out to ordinary farmers and workers how the big business interests that control National are eating our future by despoiling the planet. Corporate capitalism is incompatible with planet earth. People and planet before profit. We need a revolution against the polluters.

Plus: Articles on Election '11, Marton lock out, Glen Innes housing struggle, Egyptian revolution and the radicalisation of hiphop.

Download the full Anti-capitalist here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Immortal Technique comes to Auckland

IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE with special guests Akir & Poison Pen and local support from DJ Substance on Friday 20th January at The Studio, Karangahape rd.

After many attempts over the years, Immortal Technique will finally bring his raw political commentary to New Zealand in January 2012.

Born in a military hospital in Peru, Immortal Technique moved to Harlem, New York with his family in the early 80's. Here, he became captivated with Hip Hop culture, writing graffiti and discovering his passion for rhyming. After some trouble with the law, he spent a year in prison, where he began to prolifically write down his ideas about what he had lived and seen in the struggle of New York and his visits back to his native land. On parole, he attended political science classes while selling his music on the streets. During this time he built his reputation as a ferocious battle emcee, winning numerous freestyle rap competitions in the underground hip hop scene.

In 2001, Tech released his debut album “Revolutionary Vol. 1” which was completely self-funded by his rap battle triumphs. In 2002 The Source magazine featured him in their “Unsigned Hype” column. The following year, he released “Revolutionary Vol. 2” and became the only unsigned rapper to feature in The Source’s “Hip Hop Quotable” column for his song “Industrial Revolution”. In 2008 Tech paired up with DJ Green Lantern to release “The 3rd World” – Urb magazine gave it 4 out of 5 stars and XXL magazine termed it ”Pure, unadulterated rebel music”.

Over his career, Technique has worked with the likes of Mos Def, Chuck D & Public Enemy, KRS-One, Brother Ali, Ill Bill, and more recently featured on the title track of Pharoahe Monch’s latest album.

Released as a free download, Techniques latest project, “The Martyr” boasts a stellar line-up of collaborations which includes Dead Prez, Styles P, Vinnie Paz, Joell Ortiz, Mela Machinko and Professor Cornell West, with production credits byTech himself, DJ Green Lantern, Southpaw and the late J Dilla.

A cross between Che Guevara, Chuck D and Fela Kuti, his lyrics focus on controversial issues in global politics. The views expressed are predominantly commentary on issues such as class struggle, poverty, religion, government and institutional racism. He has donated his time and influence to many causes, including building an orphanage in Afghanistan, and more recently has been a vocal part in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Joining Immortal Technique on his Australian/NZ tour are his partners-in-rhyme, Akir and Poison Pen. Tech’s label mate, Akir (acronym for Always Keep it Real) is a producer and songwriter known for his complex lyrics and social-political content. The Brooklyn born and raised, son of a preacher man, Poison Pen is one of the founding members of the rap indie click Stronghold, alongside Breez Evaflowin’, C Rayz Walz and Immortal Technique.

The (R)evolution of Immortal Technique (Official Trailer) ::

But will they vote? A Marxist analysis of Election '11

On Sunday morning the left woke up with its biggest headache in three years. Although we all expected Key to be re-elected, the shock of his victory along with wins for the right in Epsom, Ohariu Belmont, Auckland Central and Waitakere were gutting. Added to this the modest vote for Mana at 1% alongside the disappointing showing of many of the candidates, including Bradford and Minto, made the defeat even more painful.

But below the surface appearance of the next Parliament, with its tiny majority for National-Act-United Future and Maori Party are some interesting trends. These are the numbers behind the numbers that activists should understand.

The numbers behind the numbers
"A million eligible New Zealanders did not bother to vote in Saturday's election, producing the lowest turnout in percentage terms in 120 years. Turnout dropped by just over 90,000, from 79.5 per cent of those on the rolls in 2008 to 73.8 per cent." This must be influenced by the fact that 100,000 New Zealanders have left for Australia in the last three years as well as by increased depoliticisation.

If special votes fall on the same lines as the votes did on election night there will be an 84,000 vote swing against National, Act, Maori and United Future parties. Government parties lost 7% of their votes 2008-2011, although a 0.6% swing to centre right parties overall. A modest swing against the Government and a swing against the centre left.

Voter turnout went up in all South Auckland Labour held seats. e.g. Mangere up 2406 voters. The increased voter turnout went to Labour. The $15hr message and No Asset Sales did turnout the working class (Pacific/Pakeha/Asian) vote for Labour. This increased left vote in South Auckland will only go up again in 2014 as youth rates and energy privatisation kicks in. Labour held up its party vote better in areas where it has an electoral machine (capacity to doorknock, phonebank, process information and ferry the vote on election day). However the Labour vote has been decimated by emigration to Australia and the Christchurch earthquake. centre-left strongholds all saw huge drops in voter turnout: Wellington Central -4365, Mt Roskill -2021, Hutt South -897, Christchurch East -6390, Dunedin North -3080.

Green Party eroded both Labour and National support in the middle class and tipped over 10%. This is clear from the affluent, liberal suburb of North Shore, where support for National/Act and Labour is down and the Greens will be up 1000+ votes (after specials come in). Greens also continue to do well in the inner-city, suburban seats where they are beginning to look likely to overtaking the Labour vote.

Much more tactical voting on the right and the left in electorate seats sees Epsom retained by Banks, Ohairu by Dunne, Labour retake West Coast and cut into National's majorities in Auckland Central and Waitakere.

The Conservative Party is a dead duck at the moment. The Christian right, focused in the bible belt of Rodney, is not yet strong enough to be a national electoral force even with the war-chest of Colin Craig. It may yet merge with Act. Act has essentially been wiped out and already Banks is floating the idea of rebranding Act and merging it with the Conservatives.

NZ First voters were its traditional Grey Power support base as well as probably a section of Labour voters who thought if NZ First could hurdle the 5% buffer, Key would lose his majority. This seems to be confirmed by the surge in the polls that NZ First rode on the backs of the Nats dipping. The mobilisation of the elderly is interesting. They could prove a political roadblock to attacks on the welfare state. The rapid growth of Grey Power in the early 1990s came as they organised protests against hospital closures, attacks on superannuation and privatisations.

Voter turnout huge drop in Maori seats 2008-2011: 3034 in Te Tai Tokerau, 3157 in Waiariki, 3471 in Waikato, 3647 in Ikaroa Rawhiti, 3934 in Te Tai Haurauru, 4520 in Tamaki Makaurau, 5264 in Te Tai Tonga. The stronger the Mana candidate, the higher Maori voter turnout in general. Mana came from nowhere to come second in two Maori electorates. Sykes put in the best performance and will likely trounce Flavell in 2014.

Mana's party vote outside the Maori roll was tiny. However its strongest showing outside the modest South Auckland vote it received was amongst radical students and intellectuals, Dunedin North 150, Auckland Central 184, Wellington Central 175. 154 in lefty liberal Mt Albert, home of Unite Union's HQ and encompassing Western Springs and Kingsland. It did not get more than a tiny few of the working class vote. Mana failed to create an identity that broke out of the Maori world. This must change before Mana will broaden its appeal.

It is clear that the declining level of struggle in Maoridom has adversely affected the Mana vote. Mana did well in Waiariki and Tamaki Makaurau, both places engaged in struggle with the Government in the last three years. Waiariki against the terror charges laid against Tuhoe and Tamaki Makaurau for Maori seats on the Supercity. The highpoint of Maori struggle was the 2004 movement against the FS&SB Act and as this struggle has gone into decline there has been a corresponding drop in political militancy and activism amongst Maori.

This drop could not be reversed in the six months Mana had between the Te Tai Tokerau by-election and the general election. It can be reversed in the next three years. A radicalisation of Maori against deep sea oil drilling, mining, climate change and for the return of stolen land could take place and mass struggles could give well to significant gains for working class Maori and Pakeha.

Let’s look at five good parts and five bad parts of the Mana campaign.

1. No central party campaign co-ordination. Branches like Auckland central fell apart. Candidate selection took too long. No central media message and volunteers and activists were not integrated well into a larger campaign and message. Campaigning was often focused around high-profile candidates and not around the party vote. For example in the South and West Auckland. This is counter-intuitive under MMP.
2. No vote machine in electorates. Labour have a sophisticated apparatus for collecting and gathering votes based on door knocking, phone canvassing and getting identified supporters to the polls. We need a similar machine if we seek to displace them in working class areas.
3. Too much Maori branding in general seats cost votes as people saw us as another Maori party. Tino rangatiratanga billboards, te reo leaflets are not necessary for people to know we believe in tino rangatiratanga. We needed branding that cut across the whole class.
4. Little relationship to local issues. In contrast with the Greens which took their rivers message around the country, Mana often failed to gain traction in urban areas as promoted policy existed at an abstract level from peoples lives, i.e. the financial transactions tax.
5. Not enough candidates. Candidates in every area could have significantly lifted the profile of our campaign. These should be chosen two years in advance so they can begin the process of weaving together local organisation and profile.


1. Gave left wing ideas a national hearing on billboards and in the media.
2. Shows significant appetite in Maoridom for a radical party.
3. Annette Sykes. She will win in 2014 easily.
4. Hone’s win. The North voted for revolution.
5. 1% isn’t nothing. It takes a while to build a party. 1% is decent, it’s a start that we have to use to get up to 3% by 2014.

For those who do not believe that 1% is a viable base to work from, they should consider the experience of the left in Ireland and in particular of SWP activist Richard Boyd Barrett who is now a sitting MP for the United Left Alliance in the Irish Parliament. Minto got a lowly 1.7% of the vote on his first run in Manukau East but it is now clear that Labour will deselect the invisible man before 2014. This is a good win for Minto and Mana but we must continue to deepen roots into the community.

Richard Boyd Barrett's electoral history

The increases in Richard’s votes came through ten long hard years of campaigning in the community and winning the respect, trust and then support of thousands of people.

2012-2013 - A campaign for Auckland
In Auckland our struggle will be to reach out to the thousands of Pasifika, Pakeha and Asian workers who liked our message but weren’t ready to break with Labour. Mana turned the language of socialism into the Tax the rich, Feed the kids and Abolish GST. We talked about a higher minimum wage, building more state houses and getting the parasites of poverty out of the hood.

But the collapse of strong Maori protest movements, militant trade unionism, beneficiary action or other forms of community organising did not stop at the ballot box. Only 1% voted for the Mana revolution and that tells us that only 1% are ready for revolution. We have to expand our influence and the numbers of people committed to the struggle for socialism here in Auckland. The only way we can do that is by involving people in local struggles that they can win and from there drawing out the connection with general ideas. In the English city of Liverpool in the 1980s as one of the original gangsters of neo-liberalism Margaret Thatcher commenced the first round of attacks on the post-war welfare consensus, a left wing city council kept the flame of socialism alive in their city.

Tony Mulhearn, one of the '47' Liverpool councillors from 1983 to 1987 described how they defied Thatcher 20 years ago.

"Liverpool showed how Marxists can link directly with working-class people on a clear set of socialist principles. Militant supporters linked up to the aspirations of the working class - a decent job, a decent wage, a decent house, a decent pension - basically what's required to lead a civilised life.

Then we campaigned to meet these aspirations. We translated socialism into the language of jobs, housing, and social services. We were elected in 1983, increased our majority in 1984 on these policies and implemented them.

We started more apprentices in our four years than had been started in the previous 40 years. We built more houses than all other councils in our time in office.”

With the Auckland Council under a centre-left administration we have a chance to push for the council to build council houses, fund more public transport works like the inner city loop through a tax on corporations and implement the breakfasts in schools policy.

A struggle here in Auckland around those three priorities will strengthen the Mana Movement politically and lead into standing a slate of candidates at the local level of city politics- community boards and endorsing councillors in the 2013 elections. Struggles at a local level over the next few years will feed into a larger campaign for Mana in 2014.

2014 Displacing the Maori Party, Making wider gains Electorally
The opportunity in 2014 will be to make gains electorally for Mana. This will involve standing strong candidates in the three Maori electorates where sitting MPs are stepping down. Tariana Turia, Parekura Horomia, Pita Sharples are all gone burgers. Mana will be in a good position to challenge and win these seats and we should support these challenges. Annette Sykes will also be well positioned to win Waiariki and thus destroy the Maori Party as a political force.

The campaign for these seats will have to begin early next year and not let up until 2014. It will mean detailed, well organised campaigning in the Maori seats.

2014 will also be a chance to increase the party vote for Mana. If Mana received 20,000 party votes in 2011 we need to aim to triple that vote to 60,000 votes in 2014. There are three places where Mana can win these extra 40,000 votes. Through the union movement, the student movement and in low income communities amongst non-voters. These are the three groups that will go into a struggle against the new National Government, against capitalism and the bosses.

Socialist Aotearoa will also seek to build a new movement in the unions through Mana Kaimahi Network by encouraging union activists who support Mana’s war on poverty to up the ante in their workplaces, calling for a wave of strikes in the new year for $15hr and a 5% wage increase.
In the community we need to support the struggles around state housing especially in GI. When land occupations break out we need to be there to support them.

We also need to focus on building out the strength of the revolutionary organisation. In a revolutionary organisation there are no rank’n’file members. Everyone should be a leader. We need to broaden our reach into the community, workplaces and universities. More good quality journalism, analysis and reviews going onto the blog makes it easier to get out Anti-Capitalist's quicker. We can use the Anti-Capitalist to link up the struggles, radicalise thousands and educate new activists who will come into the movement.

The election was just the beginning for the Mana Movement and a class analysis of the election results creates a much clearer understanding of the situation in the political New Zealand that allows activists to survive Key's re-election and capitalist dominance and avoid the despondency which has settled over a section of the left.

-Socialist Aotearoa

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Beyond the beginning...

As the economic crisis deepens globally the ruling class continues to push its austerity agenda. On every continent the class struggle grinds on but it is clear that this is just the beginning of a major depression and a major shift in global politics. Globally the picture is mixed. In Egypt a second revolution, this time against the military government, is unfolding in Tahrir square but in Syria the bloody suppression of democracy protests has quickly created a situation of revolutionary civil war. In the UK and Portugal general strikes this month are planned against austerity attacks and could derail the cuts to workers living standards but in Greece, Spain and Italy administrations promising more pain for working people have taken control forcing millions of European workers, students and youth to increase the militancy and combativity of their protests and strikes.

In the US the Occupy movement appears to be losing traction in city squares as local authorities brutally evict many of the camps including Occupy Wall Street. Yet it is deepening its roots in campuses across America as students lead high-profile university occupations against fee increases and the neo-liberalisation of education. Some 120 US universities have seen protests thus far this Autumn/Winter. The Winter may see a slight lull in protests in America, but Adbusters are promising to lead a "full spectrum counter-attack" in the northern Spring that could create the stage for the weakening of corporate control over politics in the US, especially the 2012 election.

The elections and beyond
In Aotearoa the election results will set the tempo for the next phase of the struggle. A small swing away from National and the death of Act with the right losing seats like Auckland Central, Ohariu-Belmont and Waitakere seems likely. The Greens have made significant inroads into middle class votes and a high poll result for them will show that increasing numbers of university educated liberals are uncomfortable with the direction of Key's government. Undoubtedly the Greens are also cashing in on being the favoured party for students for the last decade as they reshape their image around the values of young socially conscious graduates, green jobs, the environment and alleviating poverty. Since the death of the Alliance as a parliamentary force in 2002, a significant chunk of the anti-capitalist left has supported the Green Party but the Green Party's center of balance is shifting towards parliament and away from the movements it originated from. This shift, reflected in the party list, will see it intellectually and politically unequipped to lead the kind of anti-war, social justice and environmental campaigns that MPs like Sue Bradford, Keith Locke or Nandor Tanscoz have in the past, such as against the war in Iraq or against youth pay rates.

The rise of the Mana Movement, as a Maori inspired, anti-capitalist political force backed by swelling numbers of iwi, environmentalists, workers, socialists, union organisers and students and intellectuals is an amazing development. It has brought to the center of political debate left wing ideas from the Robin Hood Tax to the call for full employment and from free breakfasts for school kids to opening our borders to our Pasifika neighbours. It is a new left party. Even if it receives a modest vote on Saturday it will be large and strong enough to operate as an activist movement able to help working people win struggles like the emerging fights over housing in Glen Innes and Lower Hutt and the struggle in Marton over paycuts being forced on meatworkers through a lockout. United action like last Thursday's mass picket of the Marton meatworks can shutdown a factory and if this action can be sustained like it was in Melbourne at the Baiada chicken factory, workers can win huge gains and get a taste of their power. Benefit cuts, youth rates, deep sea oil drilling and the privatisation of energy companies will provoke wider protests and in early 2012 the left should mobilise as a united front to defeat all of these attacks on Aotearoa.

With growing unemployment, stagnating wages and taking an incremental approach to attacks on the environment, Maori and public services the right will be hoping that their next three years in office allows them to increase corporate power and wealth without sparking a major fightback that bloodies its nose like it has over National Standards or too many set piece confrontations like it did over mining National Parks and lost. Strengthening Mana as an activist organisation will be a key task for the left after the election.

One of the most inspiring things about the generally dull election this year has been the radicalisation of hiphop culture. The release of Home Brew and Tourettes's track Listen to us, the mobilisation of Maori voters by Young Sid and the release of Genocide's anthem Stand Up for Mana show that the mood is shifting amongst youth. John Key's Government isn't just passively disliked but now actively hated and campaigned against by the organic intellectuals of the young, poor and the restless. The aggressive and racist tactics of the New Zealand police towards first Tiki Taane in Tauranga and just recently Scribe in Wellington for freestyling an anti-police rap is illustrative of the arbitrary and discriminatory nature of New Zealand's justice system where young Maori and Polynesian men are targeted and profiled by an aggressive police force disconnected with the communities they operate in.

Maybe the clearest sign that hiphop is on the move is the standing of activist rapper Jayson Gardiner in Tauranga. His latest track clearly shows the potential of Mana to bring radical, anti-capitalist, pro-Maori, working class politics to young people around the country. Gardiner, coming from the site of the Rena grounding and an area of New Zealand with high youth unemployment may quickly emerge as the voice of a restless generation revolution that won't pay for the crisis and can't wait for change. If the hiphop generation in Mana follows their comrades overseas into becoming generation revolution then it will cause shockwaves across Aotearoa and inspire youth in our Pacific neighbours like Fiji, Tonga and the Solomon Islands to rise up as well.

Workers' movement
With rebellion brewing in many worksites around the country the potential for a hot Summer of stopworks and strikes against the Government and capitalists is latent in the anti-capitalist winds blowing across the world. Unions have overwhelmingly taken a cautious approach to confronting the first term National Government, especially after the lockout of actors involved in the Hobbit debacle immediately following the October 2010 mobilisation against attacks in workers rights. With steadily declining membership, a result of a more assertive employing class, the loss of manufacturing jobs and an inability to win key disputes (Skycity, Open country, Telecom) unions will have to come out of this election swinging and push hard to re-organise workers, link up disputes over wages and conditions and stamp out the rot and inertia which has crept into the internal culture of many unions. A wage push in early 2012 for at least a 5% wage increase for every worker is a reasonable demand. MPs have just scored a 5% wage increase at the same time as workers are expected to tighten their belts (bosses last year got an average pay increase of 14%). A wave of action linked together around wages would strengthen unions democratic culture, re-activate activist networks within and between unions and turn around the membership decline of unions.

The importance of improving wages to improving the overall economic situation for working people is clear from the statistical data,
Wages are very important. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of average household income in 2011 was from wages and salaries. Wages and salaries are the main way the great majority of New Zealanders get to share the income this country generates. Unfair wages and salaries contribute to the highly unfair levels of income inequality that have grown in this country over the last two to three decades. We have far too many children living in poverty – a quarter of them or 270,000 by one measure – and two in five are from households where at least one adult is in full-time employment
Beyond the political parties talk of reducing inequality or getting children out of poverty, New Zealand workers will continue to see their overall standard of living deteriorate if there is too little action by workers on wages. If unions do lead a push on wages, it will also provide an early opportunity under the next term of a Key Government (which looks very likely) for Mana to pick up support from workers, especially younger workers coming into the workforce or older workers, particularly non-voters, who once involved in collective action against bosses will see the need for political as well as industrial action by working people. Workers cannot wait for the next Labour government to see wages improve, we have to fight now.

A wave of strikes for a living wage and 5% across the board that strengthens unions, alongside an insurgent Mana Movement whose leader Hone Harawira called today in south Auckland for a revolution against poverty to begin right now, could put Key on the backfoot forced to concede a living wage of $15hr minimum by April and lift the virtual pay freeze in the public sector. This in turn would make it easy for private sector unions to break through in negotiations with their employers and make significant wage gains. Unions must be at the heart of any revolution against poverty if it to succeed.

Return of revolution
The return of global revolution, student occupations, riots and general strikes opens up new possibilities for the socialist left to push back against capitalists in our workplaces, universities, schools and communities. Election '11 marks the end of the beginning for the Mana Movement and an opening of a new phase of struggle that will require resistance in the streets as well as in Parliament to the austerity attacks. With capitalism in deep crisis, war on every continent, and snowballing ecological collapse there will be a need to not only resist the system but also to educate and illustrate the necessity of revolution and socialism- here in Aotearoa and globally. The bosses have money, the police and the media but the left, the workers and the resistance to capitalism have the ideas that can inspire billions worldwide. The idea that we need a socialist revolution from below led by workers, students and the unemployed to take back power needs to be spread everyday and everywhere. Ideas are a catalyst for action and the fuel of revolution. We know we have the ideas and the principles that can change the world. We know how to fight now to win what people need now. We must take these ideas to millions of people who are thirsting for a better tomorrow beyond capitalism, ecological destruction and imperialism. We can refuse their planet of slums and inspire a planet of revolution. We can create a Socialist Aotearoa.

-Socialist Aotearoa

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Workers of Egypt. Rise up for the victory of the revolution"

Army officer greeted by crowds. He leads the chants "down with the Scaf"
Nearly a year into our glorious revolution, the regime of oppression and corruption led by the SCAF has not ceased to impose itself by force, attempting to erase traces of the revolution and to prevent the impoverished, toiling masses from reaping the fruits of their great struggle.

The regime of repression that is protected by the military had imagined that the revolution was buried and ended, and that the people that rose up last January and destroyed the massive machines of oppression would today submit in the face of tear gas canisters, cartridges and live ammunition.

The multitude now facing death in the name of rescuing the revolution, in confronting remnants of the criminal regime shall triumph as they have triumphed before. And the tools of oppression that were smashed on 28th January will be destroyed anew at the will of the revolutionaries.

The regime has proven beyond a doubt that it is but a deformed continuation of Mubarak's obsolete rule. Our reclamation of those companies stolen by privatizationunder Mubarak's rule is being resisted by the regime today. Those privileges endowed by Mubarak on the elite class of investors continue to be protected by the military regime. The minimum wage that workers called for in the name of a dignified life is being circumvented by Mubarak’s loyalists.

The cold-blooded murder of revolutionaries at the hands of Mubarak's butchers continues with patent debauchery at the hands of the military rulers. Workers stepped forward last February to rescue the revolution, as labor strikes spread to all corners of Egypt to support the uprising, setting Cairo, Mahalla, Suez and Alexandria ablaze; workers in all of Egypt's governorates and its factories and institutions both public and private committed to the struggle.

The dictator was forced to step down when workers’ strikes paralyzed the joints of the regime and threatened its collapse, the regime chose to rescue itself by sacrificing its head. Today the revolution will not be cheated once again and will not be pacified with sedatives. The working class that delivered the revolution to victory in February will not be late to rescue the heroes of the revolution that today hold their ground steadfastly in the face of the regime of corruption and repression.

The companies occupied in January workers will return to occupy soon again and the workers that made their way to the squares of Tahrir, el-Shoun and el-Arba' in will go there once more; the working class will reawaken with their heroic struggle to erase — at the side of the revolutionaries — the remnants of Mubarak'sregime and build a revolutionary path on the basis of justice and freedom.

The Revolutionary Socialists, Egypt

21 November 2011