Spark Audio: The Electoral Finance Act

April 2, 2008

The following talks from a Workers Party forum in Christchurch are now available for download.

John Edmundson - Background to the Electoral Finance Act

Tim Bowron - Left Opposition to the Electoral Finance Act

Tibet protests grab the headlines

April 2, 2008

- Daphna Whitmore

Recent protests in Tibet have thrown the spotlight on one of the world’s most remote regions. Led by Tibetan monks, protesters attacked Han Chinese and Hui Muslim immigrants. Tibetans say the Chinese authorities favour the new migrants while treating the locals as second-class citizens.

As the government clamped down on demonstrators. reports have come in of dozens of deaths and hundreds of arrests. With the Beijing Olympics just six months away, the protests may stay centre-stage.

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What future for peace in Palestine?

April 2, 2008

John Edmundson

Despite the victory of the radical Hamas movement in the 2006 elections to the Palestinian Authority, Israel still refuses recognise the Hamas government in Gaza, which it labels a “terrorist organisation”. Instead, it will only deal the United States-backed regime of Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah Party, which despite losing the election continues to cling to power in the West Bank territories.

In the meantime, Israel continues with its economic blockade and armed attacks against the 1.4 million people living in the Gaza Strip. With the Red Cross now reporting that 167 Palestinians have been killed in the first two months of 2008 alone, can there really still be any realistic prospects for a just and lasting peace in Palestine?

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Modern New Zealand unions - “fighting blindfold”?

April 2, 2008

Philip Ferguson

It’s not often that leading trade union officials in New Zealand speak openly about the exploitation of the working class, let alone about the surplus-value created by workers and expropriated by employers. Therefore, when such speeches are made, it’s useful to analyse what is being said, why, and what the political implications are for trade union activism.

Last November, Robert Reid, the national president of the National Distribution Union, one of the few left-leaning unions, made such a speech at a gathering organised by the Trade Union History Project to commemorate the life of the late Rona Bailey, a longtime New Zealand communist.

In the speech, Reid recalled being part of Marxist study groups with Rona Bailey and learning about surplus-value. Reid then rightly noted that “without an appreciation of Marxist economics or political economy, we have no understanding of how wealth is created and expropriated in the 21st century. This leaves, in many cases, the modern trade union movement fighting blindfolded.”

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Redundancy - how do unions measure up?

April 2, 2008

Don Franks

The article “Who moved my job?” in the April issue of The Spark eloquently voices a worker’s experience of redundancy threats. How can workers fight back against this blight on their lives?

Organised workers threatened with redundancy look to the union they belong to. It would make sense for all the unions in the country to have an agreed overall strategy against redundancy.

Such a document does exist. The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) policy book, copyright 2006, sets out an approach to redundancy for all unions.

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Who moved my job?

April 2, 2008

Rachel Tay

2007 did not get off to an auspicious start at Dynamic Controls. Fraud and subsequent law changes in America and the high Kiwi dollar led to low sales. This in turn led to low orders, leaving most of the factory staff in Christchurch with little to do for the first three months.

Staff that had been with the company for a while were aware that with all Invacare’s (the US-based parent company) competitors already in China, and Invacare having shifted respiratory production to China some two years previously, this state of affairs could not continue.

The first blow fell in early April with the announcement of five redundancies from the factory floor. Any job loss is painful, but we thought we’d got off lightly, until May 16.

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