Friday, March 23, 2012

Reigniting the land wars

Ten years before the 2007 police raids on Ruatoki, a threat to reignite civil war was made to Parliament by a group of disaffected, anti-government individuals. It didn't come from Maori radicals but Taranaki farmers. Were any ever arrested for sedition? Were they investigated for unlawful firearms offences? Were they castigated as anti-democratic traitors?

--------------

Call to arms . . . against who?
THE DOMINION, 12 JUN 1997,
BARLOW Hugh

ARMED insurrection by some Taranaki farmers was likely if Parliament did not change its plans to overhaul Maori leasehold land law, MPs were told yesterday.

Morris Hey, chairman of the West Coast Lessees Association, which represents leasehold farmers in Taranaki, delivered the warning to the justice and law reform select committee.

The committee is considering a bill that aims to allow Maoris to regain control over land that was tied up in perpetual leases, against their wishes, last century. The bill proposes phasing out the leases, and in the meantime making the properties subject to market rents.

Mr Hey said the bill would create a new grievance by making farmers bear much of the cost of settling an old one.

Since he became chairman in 1990 he had exerted a moderating influence on farmers angry at the prospect of losing their farms. If the bill was passed, he would resign and would no longer be able to keep extremists in check.

"There is a militant section of our membership who are prepared to take up arms to protect their property rights," he said.

The warning did not appear to be taken too seriously by committee members. Labour list MP Dover Samuels said he was intrigued that some farmers might want to "reignite the Taranaki wars".

Mr Samuels: Who are they going to battle against?

Mr Hey: I don't know.

Mr Samuels: If people are going to take up arms, I'd like to know who they see as the enemy.

Mr Hey: I don't know, I hope this won't happen.

Mr Samuels: People who want to take up arms against an invisible enemy would probably do better to get some counselling.

Association deputy chairman Lyn Williams said leasehold titles were as much a property right as a freehold title, and if Parliament was going to interfere, the very least it should do was offer full compensation. The present proposals would cost the 271 farmers affected an average of $210,000.

Mr Williams said the best solution for farmers and the Maori landowners would be to leave the law much as it was. If the Maoris were compensated they would be well placed to buy out leases as they came on the market. An average of 19 leases were sold each year.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

ALERT- Wharfies Locked Out- get down the gates for 3pm

Ports of Auckland Management, after failing to sack all their workers, have now issued an indefinite Lock Out notice. This is Class War. All unionists and supporters of workers rights should head down to Auckland's Waterfront from 3pm today- its time for an all out Mass Community Blockade to shut down the Port completely.


There is Blood in the water

international and local solidarity with the Wharfies has helped to defeat the Bosses at the Port

With the decision by Ports of Auckland management to reverse their plans to subcontract out the jobs of nearly 300 sacked workers, the Wharfies are on the edge of a major victory with historic consequences for the Union movement in New Zealand.

Despite a massive assault on their union by management, right wing media and traitorous politicians, the Wharfies have stood their ground, stayed staunch on their picketlines, and defeated the attempts to replace their jobs with scab labour.

There is blood in the water now, and its time for unions to sharpen our teeth.

The turning point for this dispute was the magnificent rally of support for the Wharfies, that saw over 5,000 unionists from over 40 unions pour onto the streets of Auckland's CBD, and down to the waterfront. Socialists on this rally argued for the tactic of a mass community blockade to shut down the port if the plans for scab labour went ahead. This idea was subsequently picked up by other unionists and commentators of the left.

There is no doubt that if the plans to use scab labour had gone ahead, the port would have been shut down by picket lines of thousands of workers at each gate. These were the tactics that saw Patricks stevedores successfully defeated by the Maritime Union of Australia in 1998.

There is blood in the water now, and its time for unions to sharpen our teeth.

Millions of dollars of ratepayers money has been spent by Ports Management in a failed attempt to break the Wharfies. Whole pages of expensive advertisements have been bought in the NZ Herald, by a CEO who is paid twice as much as the Prime Minister. The bureaucrats and managers who wasted this public money should now be held to account, and those responsible should be sacked by the Council.

The bureaucrats, advisers and politicians who attacked Council workers should also be named and deposed. These fat ass, soft handed enemies of the working class should have their offices picketed until they resign in shame. And traitors like Len Brown, of the so called "Labour" Party, should be royally kicked up the arse in the Mayoral elections next year. The rest of this pompous, lame duck, sad bastard's reign in Auckland will be a joke, and real friends of the working class such as Mike Lee, Cathy Casey, Hone Harawira, Matt McCarten and Willy Jackson should seriously consider an honest, pro worker, left wing slate to replace Brown and his cringers next year. The plans for privatisation- the agenda to sell off public assets such as the Ports, should now be truly scuppered.

There is blood in the water now, and its time for unions to sharpen our teeth.

Our meatworkers in AFFCO are being starved by the roadside. If it were not for the intervention of local Iwi in many areas such as Horotiu, their children would be suffering third world malnutrition at this rate. The Talleys family is Public Enemy Number One of the working class of Aotearoa and should be smashed. If the Wharfies are victorious, then the full firepower of our 400,000 unionists organised by the CTU must be brought to bare on these Croatian gangsters. The mass pickets planned for the waterfront must now be organised at all meatworks up and down the length of the Motu, and the scabs who keep Talleys running must be physically stopped from working.

If the Wharfies are victorious, then the war against casualisation in Aotearoa has truly begun. Fastfood workers and cinema workers will be campaigning in May for guaranteed hours- the fight against the crime of insecurity and underemployment is a cause the CTU as a whole must support.

And if the Wharfies are victorious, then the Union movement is reborn, and workers in every store, site and shop should take heart, unionise and strike out for higher pay, secure hours and better conditions.

This ain't 1951, this is 2012. There is blood in the water- let the bosses of New Zealand tremble in fear.






Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A sad and sorry end to a Tragic Raid- Hone speaks






Hone Harawira, MANA Leader
Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau

Mr Speaker – four years ago armed offenders stormed the homes of innocent families, broke down doors, smashed windows, overturned furniture, forced people to their knees in front of their children, refused them access to water and even the right to go to the toilet, degraded and dehumanised civilians, set up armed barricades and stopped traffic, boarded k√∂hanga reo busses and scared the crap out of little kids … and gave Tuhoe another reason to hate the forces of the state.

That exercise in police terror carried out on October 15 2007, led to people all over the country being charged with terrorism, amidst heightened global concerns of terrorist activity, and created within the wider society of New Zealand an instant and unreal fear of the kinds of images we had been barraged with on mainstream TV.

And although those charges were very quickly thrown out, the state simply had to follow through with new charges because they’d been already running their campaign for more than 12 months, they’d gone in fully armed and under the full glare of the media, they’d made a public commitment to the most serious charges in the history of our nation, and they simply had to justify their involvement in what turned out to be an extremely violent operation.

That operation only came to an end yesterday with a decision which should have been about the triumph of justice, but wasn’t. All it was, was a sad and sorry end to a tragic raid into the heartland of the Tuhoe.

For after all the drama, the high expectation and the grainy videos, yesterday the jury could only return verdicts on firearms charges. That’s all we got after a four year campaign that cost the taxpayer millions and millions of dollars, divided the nation, and gave people genuine reason to fear their own police force.

Today, the day after the case ended, justice is still denied to the people of Tuhoe.
Today we remember those who died with a cloud of doubt hanging over them and their families, and who will never now, get the chance to refute the allegations made against them.
Today we recall the statement made by one of the defence lawyers who said that the crown case could best be summed up with the simple words “Maori plus guns equal crime”
Today we can still feel the deep-seated racism that not only exists, but flourishes within critical agencies of the state.
Today Mr Speaker, the hearings may finally be over for the Urewera 4, but not for the people of Tuhoe.

There has been no apology, there has been no compensation, there has been no public acknowledgement of the need for change in policeoperations or for new engagement policies as a result of the litany of errors we now know as Operation 8; and we know that because just last month the armed offenders went back into Tuhoe, smashed up somebody’s house, terrorised the inhabitants … and got nobody.

Today I am proud to say that MANA will stand alongside those in our society who reject tyranny, and stand against those who would use the Terrorism Suppression Act and the Search and Surveillance Bill to crush independent thinking, to force us to fear what we say and to hide what we do, and to stop us from choosing freedom over oppression.

Today Mr Speaker I salute Tame Iti and his comrades for their dignity, for their courage, for their passion and for their love for this land.

And tomorrow, I pray for an end to the kind of blind police operation developed in a silo of ignorance and fear that we saw in Tuhoe, and look forward to a time when local issues can be handled with a modicum of intelligence, a minimum of fuss, a measure of goodwill, and the realisation that brutalising communities in the defence of justice leads not justice, but the growth of injustice, disharmony, and righteous anger.

Tena koutou katoa

Debate: The Revolt in Syria



Socialist Aotearoa and it's sister organisation in Britain, Socialist Worker, has supported the revolution in Syria—but not everyone on the left agrees. Here, Sami Ramadani argues that those leading the resistance are acting in the interests of the West.

Simon Assaf, who writes regularly for Socialist Worker on the Middle East, responds by explaining why we should back the revolt and oppose Western intervention


Sami Ramadani: 'Pro-Nato factions have captured the initiative'

The situation in Syria is dividing left opinion.

But recent reports by Simon Assaf in Socialist Worker are seriously misreading developments in Syria and the Middle East following the magnificent people’s uprisings.

Wishful thinking has replaced materialist analysis.

We have to recognise that the imperialist-backed Arab counter-revolution has, in the short term, regained the initiative and is on the offensive.

A ruthless, corrupt ruling class runs Syria. Left activists have suffered severe repression since Hafiz Assad’s 1970 coup.

It was after that coup that then US secretary of state Henry Kissinger described Syria as “a factor for stability”.

Hafiz Assad’s regime, funded by Saudi medieval dictators, played a leading role in weakening Palestinian resistance throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Syrian troops, in alliance with Lebanon’s pro-Israeli forces, were decisive in defeating Palestinian and Lebanese progressive forces.

The regime, in return for US promises, also backed the 1991 US-led war over Kuwait.

No one talked then of a regime “based on the Alawite sect” funded by “Saudi Wahabi-Sunnis” as the media do today.

Syria is partly occupied by Israel.

The Syrian people would judge any regime as “illegitimate” if it did not liberate Syria from occupation. US promises of rewarding Syria by returning the occupied lands came to nothing.

Ally

At the same time, a number of factors changed Syria’s role in the region.

It changed from being an active ally of imperialism, and effectively Israel, to assisting Lebanese and Palestinian resistance while opposing the US-led occupation of Iraq.

The factors include the rise of Iran as a formidable anti-US and anti-Israeli power, and the defeat of US forces in Iraq.

The unstoppable rise of Lebanese resistance, which liberated southern Lebanon and defeated Israeli-Saudi backed forces, was also important.

That resistance was led by Hizbollah and backed by Syria.

Today’s popular protests in Syria began spontaneously and were mostly led by progressives demanding radical

political reform.

But ruthless mass murder by regime forces plus terrorist acts by sectarian and al-Qaeda-type gunmen have changed the scene.

The Qatari-owned, poisonously sectarian Al Jazeera and Western media distort events in Syria.

Close examination shows that, as in Libya, pro-Nato factions have captured the initiative.

These factions are dominant in the Syrian National Council and the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

Founded

The FSA was founded in and is logistically backed by Turkey, a Nato member.

Lebanon’s US-French-Israeli allies, pro-US Iraqi forces, Jordan, Libyan terrorists and Nato special forces are all assisting counter-revolution in Syria.

But Socialist Worker astoundingly implies that FSA Nato-backed gunmen are revolutionaries.

Shaken by the uprisings, Qatari and Saudi sheiks provide funding for sectarian Muslim Brotherhood leaders and Salafi clerics. They target minorities in an attempt to fragment Syria and plunge the country into sectarian civil war.

However, if Syria joins imperialist-Israeli plans to attack Iran, destroy the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance, and help the US in Iraq, the Syrian regime would be given a clean bill of health, as a state enacting reform and having elections in May.

In Iraq imperialists destroyed a country, killed a million people and created four million Iraqi refugees, one million of whom fled to Syria.

These are pointers of what would happen to Syria if the imperialist-Saudi-Qatari plans for Syria succeed.

Most of the left and anti-imperialist democrats in Syria are keenly aware of this.

Unfortunately Socialist Worker isn’t.


Simon Assaf: Revolutions show that ordinary people have the power to change the world

The Syrian revolution has thrown up much soul-searching over its direction, strategy and tactics.

These debates have at their heart a deep sympathy with the people and their struggle against a dictatorship.

But there are also discussions with those who support the regime and see any challenge to it as the work of “dark forces”.

Regime supporters portray the Syrian people as pawns of a greater game.

Syrians are seen as puppets of a conspiracy that at different times has revolved around Al-Qaeda, Sunni gangs, “Salafi clerics”, Israeli agents, or American stooges doing the bidding of Gulf sheikhs.

In this scenario people are passive and gullible with no interests of their own.

This ignores the fact that the slogan has from the outset been “the Syrian people are one”.

The Syrian revolt is not an uprising against Alawis or Christians, many of whom support the revolution. It is a revolt against a dictatorship.

Supporters of Syria’s regime accuse army defectors of being agents of the West.

They don’t see defectors as soldiers horrified by what they were ordered to do and who surrendered to the neighbourhoods they were sent to repress.

Interests

The truth is simpler. The Arab regimes, whatever colour, never represented the interests of the people.

They are failed regimes born out of an era of defeat.

Up until recently many Syrians held their tongue because they understood the danger of the West and Israel.

As the only country supporting resistance to imperialism in the region, they put their interests last.

The Arab revolutions removed this burden from their shoulders.

The people demanded that the regime make good on its promise of reform. Of course it didn’t, because it couldn’t.

The fact of revolution is testimony to the failure of reform.

Regime supporters point to the charlatans of the Western-backed Syrian National Council.

But they ignore those making the revolution—the local committees, the youth, workers, peasants, the left, neighborhood campaigners and Facebook activists—who reject outside intervention.

They praise the role that Bashar Assad played in Lebanon’s victory over Israel in 2006.

But they don’t praise the Syrian people who opened their homes to refugees—and whose lives are now being torn apart by repression.

The revolutions have unleashed a far more potent force in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and countless other places across the Arab world.

It is sacrifices by ordinary people that have delivered blow after blow to imperialism and its tyrants.

Their movements are beginning to reveal their potential.

These popular revolutions support the Syrian uprising without condition.

There is no greater symbol of this than the Syrian flag of revolution being carried into Tahrir Square on the anniversary of Egypt’s uprising.

Now we are told to abandon a revolution by those who never supported it. Why? Because of the threat of war on Iran.

This is not a new threat. Neither is the finger-wagging at those who have dared to raise the question of repression, prisoners or corruption over the years.

Luckily the new revolutionary generation long ago rejected this rhetoric.

The Syrian revolution has its own history, its challenges and its burdens. Those who support it will fight for its independence and against any Western interference.

Above all we will defend it against those who slander a long-oppressed people desperate to take control over their destiny.

Monday, March 19, 2012

What's happening to our health system?

Big business wants to operate on our public health system

The National Government's attacks on public services are beginning to take their toll around the country and nowhere is this more apparent than in healthcare.

The corporate agenda in healthcare in the 1990s was to attack the public health system through closures and underfunding and to open up the public system to increased privatisation bit by bit. The aim of the "more market reforms" of the health system in the 1980s and 1990s driven by the Business Roundtable's Alan Gibbs was to create a fully privatised, US-style healthcare system in New Zealand. The reforms were deeply unpopular, provoked widespread protest, mass strikes and eventually unwound by the Labour-Alliance Government in 1999.

Twenty four years after the Gibbs report Unshackling the Hospitals first recommended introducing commercial imperatives into the health sector, these reforms are being revamped by John Key's Government as the Nats become increasing ambitious about their ability to sell off public schools, prisons and hospitals in their second term.

"Don't Gamble With Our Maternity"

Cuts to services
Cuts to provincial healthcare services are accelerating and maternity services are the first to be attacked.

In Whanganui on Friday 300 people marched against the proposal to move acute births to Palmerston North hospital (an hour's drive away). The change would affect 400 women and their families. Locals are organising to stop the move which has led to a DHB board member resigning in protest and 1000 people marching in February and reviving the slogan of the 1990s "Health cuts don't heal". The cut has been blamed by the doctors' union on a "health specialist workforce crisis" created by "health bosses twiddling their thumbs". Ex-Mayor Michael Laws has used an OIA request to reveal that health managers created the proposal to move the services as a "highly sophisticated campaign" to push the change through by allowing no alternatives to be debated.

In Tuatapere in western Southland locals marched in support of their maternity services on Wednesday. The local health trust has vowed to keep services open as the small community rallies against the cuts. Southland Times reported,
First-time mum Jenna Holland, 21, said it was upsetting the maternity centre was being closed and it would make it harder for new mums in the area. It was at least an hour from Tuatapere to Invercargill and it was not comfortable travelling during labour, she said.
The signficiance of the community protest is best shown by comments from one local, "This is not just a protest. It is an event in the history of Tuatapere," Stan Hammond said. "I can't remember something like this in 60 years where so many people have turned out to have their say on something. It's very, very rare. Rural people just don't protest."

"Money gets sucked out to meet the profit needs and the medium to long term costs to the taxpayer continue to escalate."

Corporatisation of care
There is a push for privatisation of hospitals at the moment, particularly in Canterbury where the Government is proposing rebuilding Christchurch's hospitals under private ownership. Last Friday in Wellington health sector officials and health profiteers were rubbing shoulders at a privatisation summit. Ian Powell of the doctors' union has argued that having profit interests involved in the designing and maintaining hospitals ultimately means less hospital beds , "Money gets sucked out to meet the profit needs and the medium to long term costs to the taxpayer continue to escalate." As Powell says, we shouldn't let profit interests anywhere near healthcare. "Would any sensible person allow a panel beater to design a traffic intersection. The self-interest, the commercial interest is just too strong."

Resistance to the corporatisation agenda and proposals for alternative solutions is coming first from the health professionals and unions who work in the public sector. Tim Parke, clinical director at Auckland City hospital, wrote in a recent column, "The solution to rising healthcare costs in tough economic times is not, as some vested interests would increasingly have you believe, to maximise the number of people using the private health sector. As a public hospital emergency specialist, I fear that expanding private healthcare may instead fragment and irretrievably damage an effective public system, resulting in the country as a whole paying more for potentially worse healthcare."

Underfunding
Nurses have been in the media lately as increasingly underfunded DHBs look to cut jobs. Cuts to nurses jobs across Hawke's Bay, Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Auckland are looming or are already in the pipeline. The attacks on frontline services come as National repairs the deficit it created with tax cuts for the rich via health cuts and increasing workloads. The Herald reports,
NZNO chief executive Geoff Annals said the Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty job losses made a mockery of Health Minister Tony Ryall's mantra that no frontline jobs would go.

"We are hearing of nursing job cuts around the country, in both hospitals and the community. Frontline nursing jobs are going, as the government puts the pressure on DHBs to meet budget targets. What this will mean is greater health costs down the track, as people did not get the care they needed, when they needed it," Mr Annals said.
Occupy the hospitals - Reefton 1988
Striking back
Cuts to services, corporatisation and underfunding in the health sector are all deeply unpopular and the Government will have an uphill battle selling the neo-liberal health agenda to provincial communities, patients and the health sector unions.

But the private health industry wants to run down the public system to increase its slice of the private health insurance market and the National Party is enthusiastically wielding the austerity knife in hospital wards around the country in order to achieve this. The Government will attempt to pick off health unions and rural communities one by one. Small communities, patients and health workers shouldn't be left to fight the Government on their own. This is a broader struggle about keeping money out of medicine that must involve all of the working class whether around hospitals, Pharmac or ACC.

Retaining a high quality, publicly owned, health system where workers and patients have rights is the job of all of us. But it's time for the union movement to stop just complaining and start striking back against the Government's attacks on the health system by organising their members and the community to fight back. Direct action, both community protest and strikes, can beat these cuts and beat back the corporatisation programme.

In the 1980s and 1990s Labour and National closed scores of hospitals around the country as the private health industry boomed. The closures and cutbacks sparked the largest protests the country has ever seen with the entire populations of small towns like Kaitaia and Gore turning out in defence of their hospitals, often succesfully.

If there's any proof that direct action and community mobilisation are the best weapons against health sector cuts it is Reefton hospital on the South Island's West Coast. In the late 1980s the hospital was slated for closure. The community marched 3000 strong in the rain behind contingents of the unionised miners and forestry workers. Their message to the Government was - if you try and move out the patients, a siren will go off in the town, and within minutes thousands of people will be at the hospital to physically prevent the move. Thus the patients were never moved and Reefton hospital remains open, still healing the people who rallied to save it.

-Socialist Aotearoa

Sunday, March 18, 2012

From little things, big things grow

A hikoi of resistance will leave Te Hiku on 24th of April and pass through Auckland on Saturday the 28th to rally on Queen Street. More information on TangataWhenua.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Free the Urewera 4

Mass Blockade needed at Ports of Auckland

mass picketing in the 1970s blockaded and shut down the means of production.
These tactics are needed now on the Ports of Auckland, argues Socialist Aotearoa's Joe Carolan.


The ideological attack of the Elite 1% in New Zealand is stepping up to a new level.

The Wharfies picket line of Monday morning is now branded a sinister, violent action of gangsters and thugs, by a largely uncritical mass media. Willie Jackson's righteous call for wharfies to adopt the winning tactics of militant pickets that actually block and stop production, now sees a campaign by the right wing to vilify him and take him off the air. And on Auckland Uni campus, the loyal labour lackeys of the Princes Street branch choose to defend the scabherder Len Brown, by trespassing the activist who threw a lamington at him. What's richer than the lamington's cream is that many of these hypocrites applauded the same activist when he crowned ACT's John Bascowen with the very same cake 4 years ago.

Unionists are thugs. Left wing commentators should be sacked. Socialists are violent and must be trespassed from campus. This is the climate we are now in.

But at times of heightened class antagonism, there is also great hope.

The working class has started to see that its struggles need to unite. From the state tenants fighting eviction in Glen Innes, to the Firefighters and locked out Meatworkers who rallied to the Wharfies cause on the 5,000 strong march on Saturday, there is a growing anger and mood to have a go at the 1%.

The lockout of the Meatworkers by Talleys at the AFFCO plants is an all out attack. The tragedy is that that the refusal of the Meatworkers Union bureaucracy to fight down at the Marton plant effectively, by either blocking the entrance or occupying the plant, and denying the means of production to the scabs and the bosses, not only resulted in defeat and pay cuts, but emboldened sharks such as Talleys to go on the attack in five other meat plants.

Socialists argued for blockades and occupations then. Union bureaucrats and the soft left dismissed us as dangerous radicals. But now we see the fruit of their betrayals on the faces of the workers locked out at Fielding and at Horotiu, where my brother in law worked for over 25 years.

Do we really want to see the Wharfies defeated? Forced to take massive pay cuts, their union broken, their jobs casualised? If we don't, then we need to look to the tactics that can win this struggle- and that's the tactic of the mass blockade and the occupation.

50 or 100 wharfies trying to stop production at 5am in the morning can be easily vilified by the right wing media, and their picket easily smashed by the police. But if the 5,000 who marched last Saturday can be joined by many more at the next rally, and these people commit to standing in front of the gates and not letting any scabs through, then there is very little the authorities can do about it without declaring open war on the working class.

Arthur Scargill won a famous victory for the British Miners in the early 1970s using the same tactics at Saltley Gates, near Birmingham. The flying pickets of the Miners were joined by Railway workers, Engineers, transport workers etc. The police had no option but to retreat from the sight of thousands of determined pickets, who shut the means of production DOWN.
And that is the ultimate power that workers have-
stopping the flow of profits.

Socialist Aotearoa salutes the Wharfies on their picket lines, salutes the 5,000 who mobilised to support them last Saturday, salutes staunch left wing commentators like Hone Harawira, Matt McCarten and Willy Jackson who continue to give sound advice as to how this battle needs to involve us all.

Our members in the union movement will be openly arguing for an all out, all union, mass blockade of the Port, where wharfies can be joined by firefighters, meatworkers, GI tenants, students, fast food workers, teachers and beneficiaries. Now is the Winter of Our Discontent.


See Joe's earlier article,
On the Waterfront, for the politics behind the Ports.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Socialist Aotearoa shows solidarity with Local 13

Socialist Aotearoa - Mana members and union fighters.

Turn Auckland into Oakland!

Hone raises the fist!

Ideas are a weapon - the bookstall!

Our most popular placard!

Sydney stands with Local 13

Approximately 30 ships have been scheduled to call at the Port of Auckland while the workers have been on strike. All but three diverted their voyages to nearby ports. However, the massive and very profitable shipping company Maersk sent two large container ships into Auckland to be worked by scabs.

One of the ships, the Maersk Brani, arrived in Sydney at 6.30am on Saturday March 10, direct from Auckland. Cranes at the DP World container terminal were silent all day and into the night as workers stayed outside the gate while Unions NSW, teachers, firefighters and students organised a community picket to protest the actions of the Port of Auckland and Maersk. The second ship, the Maersk Aberdeen, is due to arrive at Sydney’s Patricks terminal at 8pm Monday 12 March. It has already been met with pickets and protests in Wellington and Tauranga.

Workers’ rights are under attack all over the world. The brave stand taken by Sydney’s wharfies and community picketers must be supported by the whole trade union movement.

It is likely that the employers will try to attack the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) with the full force of Australia’s industrial relations laws that still make it a crime for workers and community members to support each other in struggle. The union could face fines of millions of dollars. Three hundred families in Auckland face being left without an income—and New Zealand wharfies face losing their union. This is a battle we have to win.

Paul McAleer, Sydney branch secretary of the MUA gives an inspirational speech!


Thursday, March 08, 2012

Anti-Capitalist March 2012

Hikoi


Brown gets his just desserts

At a “Mayor in the Chair” session at the University of Auckland today, six protestors, mostly students, hit Len Brown with lamingtons. Brown came to the University at 12 noon ostensibly to hear what Aucklanders thought about his administration of Auckland. The Port dispute, that has seen 300 watersider workers left redundant, was unsurprisingly the topic of conversation.

Fifty protestors holding signs waited while wharfies spoke to Brown. However, the audacity Brown showed in pretending to care about the workers and their families during this sit-down was unconscionable. With yells of “whose side are you on” ringing out, protestors unleashed their weapons of pink lamingtons to deliver some of the ridicule and shame Brown deserves.

In Greece, the 2011 protests used “yoghurting” tactics, throwing yoghurt at politicians. The significance of using Greek yoghurt, which has become a staple to many across the world, was not lost, and the practice has gained traction and legitimacy. The lamington has similarly powerful associations for New Zealanders.

The act of throwing food can have serious consequences. Jeremy Olson was charged with fourth-degree assault and disorderly conduct after he threw tomatoes at Sarah Pallin in late 2009. Protestor Maria Jackson expressed her support for those throwing food: “We know people have been arrested for actions like these, so we didn’t take this lightly. The firing of 292 workers yesterday morning has a gravity we couldn’t come close to, but throwing lamingtons is at least better than just a press release.”

The protestors, students and workers united against the disgusting wielding of corporate power against Auckland workers and families, shamed Brown and he left slumped, looking demoralized. If Brown is still confused as to what Aucklanders think about his weak office, perhaps the pink icing on his shirt and head will help him figure it out. If Brown is to come back to campus, as his office claims, he should sort out his priorities and support Aucklanders, not Tory Glibson’s pockets.

-Rosie W, SA

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Keep the scabs off our port

This Saturday at 4pm join the Maritime Union as they march on the wharves of Auckland in defense of their jobs, their job security and against privatisation.

The announcement that the port company has sacked 300 workers and plans to contract out their work must be met with united action from the Auckland community to physically prevent scabs from being able to work the port.

The solidarity action by MUNZ and RMTU members around the country has been marvellous. Blacking the scab cargo is great and it ups the ante for POAL. So too is the support of the international maritime unions and Council of Trade Unions who have made sure that workers around the country and the world stand with these wharfies.

Now the Auckland working class must help Local 13 beat back this attack by joining the rally on Saturday.

An injury to one is an injury to all.

-Socialist Aotearoa

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Len Brown Fails Us Yet Again

Auckland has the worst air quality in New Zealand, with pollution levels close to double that of Sydney according to the World Health Organisation. More than 700 Aucklanders are killed prematurely by air pollution every year. Auckland's air quality is so poor that levels of particulate matter regularly exceed national environmental standards. Every Aucklander breathes in an average 11,000 litres of air per day and within Auckland air pollution is seriously affecting people’s health and well-being.

Auckland has one of the highest asthma rates in the world with 25% of children and 12-23% of adults suffering from asthma. Asthma is the fourth highest cause of hospitalisation. The prevalence of respiratory and heart disease from air pollutants are a major cause for concern with coronary heart disease being the highest cause of death in the region.


25% of children in Auckland suffer with Asthma.

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes said in Sept 2011 “that air pollution is a result of Aucklanders' dependency on cars and should serve as a wake-up call to the Government which is about to pour $13 billion into new roads and motorways.”

The way I see it, the main problem is that public transport in Auckland is a joke. I like using public transport in other cities around the world but no one in Auckland can rely on buses and trains to get around; they’re unreliable, infrequent, slow and expensive.


A haze of smog from early morning commuter traffic hangs over Auckland.

The other day I dropped my car off at the workshop to be fixed. It took me 20 minutes to drive there and I used about $4 of petrol. The two buses I caught back took over an hour, left me waiting at a bus shelter for half of that time and cost me $8.80. Workers and students need better and cheaper public transport but the Auckland Council hasn't delivered .

Our useless Mayor Len Brown promised Auckland that if voted in he would invest money into public transport. However, now elected, for some reason the money is being spent on roads. Len Brown fails us yet again.

-Shane M. SA

Can the Syrian Revolution succeed?



Socialist Simon Assaf gives witness to the causes and prospects for the Syrian Revolution.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

What parliament does, the streets can undo

In the next three years the attacks of the National Government are going to come thick and fast. Cuts to social welfare. Evictions of state home tenants. Privatisation. Charter schools. Farm sell offs. Attacks on workers' rights. Fracking and deep sea oil drilling. Opening up ACC to private providers. Understaffing health boards.As the Government attacks on one front, the bosses attack on another. Driving down wages. Demanding casualisation. Crushing unions through lock outs.All of this will have a combined effect of demoralising the working class. A demoralised population who don't fight back is just what the Nats want. Screw them down further, demand their big business backers.

Some people give up the fight. Suicide rates are up, especially amongst children. 37,000 left for Australia last year. Apparently you are more likely to be happy if you support the National Party. Exodus. For those who have not lived through a National Government before, for those who can't remember the last recession, it can seem like Aotearoa is becoming a society without Summer. Despair and sectarianism, two sides of the same apathetic coin can set in.

Yet the National Government's austerity programme and the bosses offensive relies on the assumption that the working class will not resist, that unionists will not stand together and that they can push through their agenda before the next election.

Mass revolt can stop the Nats. Can we unite even a few thousand of the 70,000 state house tenants into a tenants association pledged to resist evictions and the sell off of homes? Maybe. Can secondary school walkouts stop charter schools? Possibly. Can strikes beat off the bosses' offensive? Yes.

But we aren't delusional, we know the left won't be able to win every time we fight. But we're not going to sit around like some lefties bleating on about how terrible the situation is, because we already know that! We're going to get stuck in wherever we can, whenever we can. We can win some of the time, but only if we fight. With every cut, with every attack, the left must unite together and fight. If we can hurt the Government, slow the bosses down or soften the blow that's good. If we can win that is even better. However every fight is about the next fight. Campaigns come and go, fury in one place might fade away as it picks up elsewhere. As Noam Chomsky said, “If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that's something, but the people in power can live with that. What they can't live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organisations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time.”

That's why we always build Mana in the struggle, a united front of Maori and Pakeha leftists with a Parliamentary presence and branches around the motu. Yet in the heart of the struggle, behind the barricades of an occupied university, on a picket line during a wintery night, in a reclaimed state house are people who in changing the world, change themselves. They get a taste of the power of a mass movement to change the world. They see the need for an economic system based on people not profit. These people will join a revolutionary organisation like Socialist Aotearoa and help build in other places, at other times the mass movements that can beat the Nats. That's what Socialist Aotearoa aims to be, an organisation that keeps doing things, with people that keep learning lessons and doing it better next time.

People make their own history but not under circumstances of their own choosing. It's not called struggle because it's easy. Yet many hands make light work. We don't need activist superheros who burn out and drift away. We need organisers of revolt who inspire resistance. One person can build a barricade but when the cops come you'll need a hundred to defend it. Everyone has a contribution to make however large or small. Some revolutionaries can manage lives of hyperactivism. Others have to take a steadier pace, balancing childcare, study and work responsibilities. Everyone needs the occasional rest and relaxation, away from the front line of the the struggle. As Lana Del Rey sings "The road is long, we carry on. Try to have fun in the meantime". A company that spends too much time in the trenches will inevitably suffer desertions and higher rates of shell shock. An army that never fights, like some political parties, soon forgets how to. A party that doesn't rally their members to fight the Nats on the streets and in the workplaces is an opposition in words only.

Nothing is more absurd than trying to stop asset sales or evictions through signing petitions or lobbying Crown Ministers. You can't win a strike through media coverage alone. Ending poverty means ending unemployment. We won't stop the Nats unless we can tip the balance of class forces back the way of working people. That means building Aotearoa is Not for Sale on the streets, in the workplaces and the campuses to unite the resistance. On Saturday 28 April we need to turn out thousands of people against this Government. From there we need to know who will commit to picketing charter schools, occupying power stations and barricading state houses. It is time to mobilise, to organise and to agitate.

What parliament does, the streets can undo.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Solidarity action

The industrial action at the Port of Auckland is spreading to other cities, as workers at Centreport Wellington are refusing to move containers on the Maersk Aberdeen because non-union staff worked the ship when it was docked in Auckland. Workers also protested early this morning outside Tauranga Port.

“Make the vessel leave the Port of Wellington, send it back to Auckland, get it loaded by union labour and then it can go on its merry way,” says Maritime Union General Secretary, Joe Fleetwood.

International Transport Federation affiliated unions held a protest at the Ports of Tauranga at 2am on Saturday 3 March 2012 in torrential rain. A Maersk ship loaded by non-union workers in Auckland, where the Maritime Union is striking, was seeking to unload at the Port of Tauranga. Seamen, wharfies and retirees joined the protest from the ITF affiliated unions: Maritime Union of New Zealand, the Rail and Maritime Union and First Union (formally the Northern Drivers Union). RMTU crane drivers refused to cross the protest citing health and safety concerns.