60th anniversary of Deir Yassin

April 22, 2008

April marks the 60th anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacre when up to 250 Palestinians, mainly old men, women and children, were massacred by Israeli forces during the establishment of the modern state of Israel.

Come along to this month’s Christchurch Workers’ Forum and hear how and why the Israeli state was set up through the dispossession of the Palestinians, what’s happening in Gaza at present and how we can support the Palestinians.

Speaker: John Edmundson

7pm, Monday, April 28
WEA
59 Gloucester Street

Organised by the Christchurch branch of the Workers Party


Job losses continue, union fightback urgently needed

April 21, 2008

- Tim Bowron and Don Franks

On April 17 manufacturer Fisher & Paykel announced that it would be closing its Mosgiel plant near Dunedin and shifting production to Mexico, Thailand and Italy with the loss of some 430 jobs. Hard on the heels of this announcement came the news that Dunedin textile firm Tamahine Knitwear which employs about 50 workers would also be closing its doors, while in the banking sector ANZ National Bank is to move approximately 500 clerical and IT jobs to India.

National and local body politicians wept crocodile tears over the news; Finance Minister Michael Cullen lamenting that “manufacturing jobs of this sort have been moving, sadly, to third world countries around the world for any number of years” while Dunedin mayor Peter Chin said he was “shocked” and “hugely disappointed.”

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Recent job losses latest in a trend

April 18, 2008

The announcement of over 1000 job losses yesterday is certainly bad news for New Zealand workers, yet while various commentators have blamed the latest round of redundancies on the high dollar or the free trade agreement with China, this disappearance of jobs is nothing new, in 2007 job losses made the news almost every other week. The following article from the December 2007 issue of The Spark looks at last years job losses and the need for international solidarity to defend jobs:

2007 a tough year for New Zealand Workers

- Byron Clark

2007 was a tough year for workers in New Zealand. In February the Brightwood milling plant closed leaving workers “high and dry” as the company’s aggressive anti-union stance left them with no redundancy cover. Later that month a Christchurch ice cream factory announced its closure. This seemed to be the start of a disturbing trend, as 2007 also saw Sleepyhead and Fisher & Paykel laying off 350 staff each, as well as redundancies at Click Clack, G.L Bowron, Skellerup, 3M and others. While manufacturing was the hardest hit, jobs seemed to be disappearing all over the place, Sealord announced plans to cut staff in September and more recently 60 jobs were lost at at freezing works owned by meat company PPCS. SkyCity announced 250 job cuts as a ‘cost cutting’ measure in May, and Telecommunications company TelstraClear announced 100 job cuts in July, with rival Telecom announcing 250 job cuts eight days later.

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Workers Party welcomes Maoist electoral success in Nepal

April 16, 2008

Press Release

The Workers Party (NZ) welcomes the victory of the Maoists in the
Nepalese elections. Jared Phillips, a Workers Party activist who
spent four weeks in the Red Zones of Nepal in 2003, meeting with
activists and leaders of the Maoist movement and witnessing first-
hand the progressive reforms being implemented in the rural areas
led by the Maoists, says the election victory is “a blow against
under-development, poverty, and repression, and is a stride forward
for liberation everywhere.”

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After Mugabe, what next for Zimbabwe?

April 15, 2008

The following article is taken from the April 3 issue of the Weekly Worker, paper of the Communist Party of Great Britain:

After the Mugabe era

James Turley asks what MDC rule would mean for Zimbabwe’s workers.

On April 2 the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which had been claiming victory since the polls closed, was finally confirmed as the largest party in Zimbabwe’s March 29 general election.

In a desperate attempt to delay the inevitable, the Zimbabwe election commission - no doubt under orders from president Robert Mugabe - is still refusing at the time of writing to release results for the presidential election, where MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has certainly won most votes. Even if he has not passed the 50% mark, necessitating a run-off, it is clear that the era of the Mugabe regime is over.

Hebson Makuvise, the MDC spokesman in London, claimed that Mugabe will “unleash violence”. The claim is not simply rhetorical - Mugabe has used his control of the security services as a rough instrument in such situations before. However, all the signs are that Mugabe and his cohorts are preparing to exit the scene of their crimes, taking as much booty with them as they can manage.

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6 years on: Venezuelans celebrate defeat of April 2002 coup

April 15, 2008

ABN/Prensa Miraflores

Photo: ABN/Prensa Miraflores. View video footage here

President Chávez meets with his people at Miraflores

By Heison Moreno for ABN/YVKE Mundial

Translated by Tim Bowron for The Spark

The head of state celebrated this April 13 together with hundreds of Venezuelans who were out on the streets of Caracas since the early morning. The President told Venezuelans in the opening phrases of his speech that “Venezuela will never be anyone’s colony” and announced the launch of the “Misión 13 de Abril”.

Caracas, Sunday afternoon

The citizens are gathering on Urdaneta Avenue in Caracas to commemorate the civil-military struggle that enabled President Hugo Chávez to return to power six years ago, as a kind of celebration of the recovery of national dignity.

Points such as the corner of Santa Capillas and the environs of the office of the Vice-president of the Republic are again marked by the presence of the people, the same people who in 2002 went out into the streets in order to demand the return of the head of state and the constitution.

Urdaneta Avenue was packed in the early morning with Venezuelan men and women who gathered just like on that previous April 13, to take back their country’s freedom and to sweep away tyranny. The guardians of freedom, members of the misiónes and the general populace gather today to the accompaniment of music by Ali Primera which can be heard even as far away as the Laguno bridge.

The Caracas metro is providing free underground transport so that everyone can mobilise.

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No GST on beer!

April 13, 2008

Nearly 30 people joined the Workers Party today, taking our membership tally to 560. We aim to get 600 members before applying to register as a party.

Workers Party activists approached people going to the Warriors game in Auckland to join the party and to get in behind our campaign to get rid of GST. With posters saying “No GST on beer” we had lots of support and good conversations about how regressive taxes hurt working class people.


Maoists lead in Nepal elections

April 13, 2008

- Daphna Whitmore

In Nepal Maoists have won a huge vote in historic elections. In the lead up to the polls bourgeois commentators forecast a poor showing for the Maoists. They were victims of their own propaganda and completely out of touch with the situation. The polls reveal mass support for the revolutionaries.

Prachanda, the chairman of the Maoist party, won a seat in the heart of Kathmandu with nearly double the vote of his nearest rival. In Gorka, Babburam Bhattarai, the party’s other top leader, took the biggest majority in the country with a 40,000 vote lead on his nearest rival. The defeat for the establishment has been humiliating. Their leaders have lost seats: such as Madhav Kumar Nepal, General Secretary of the United Marxist Leninists (UML - a conservative party, despite the name); Shusil Koirala, acting president of Nepal Congress Party; Bam Dev Gautam, senior leader of UML and Khum Bhadur Khadka, senior leader of the Nepal Congress Party the main feudal party.

Observers say the elections have been conducted well. There were 100,000 election observers posted around Nepal. Out of a total of 20,889 polling stations only 75 reported irregularities and will be polling again. Over 60 percent turned out to vote which is pretty impressive for a country with 50 percent illiteracy.

Results are being announced as the votes are counted; even remote villages are getting progress reports on the hour through PA systems. Around the country people are tuning in to FM stations to hear the latest count. A website www.election.gov.np is being regularly updated as the counting goes on. Some violence was reported and, as usual, the establishment tried to put the blame on the Maoists. But the facts speak louder: in the month leading up to the elections 6 Maoist candidates were killed by opposition forces. The Maoists did not retaliate, they insisted they were committed to a peaceful election.

The election results will take some days to be finalised but the signs are that Nepal will have a radical new government.


Industrial Action at Gourmet Mokai Ltd

April 11, 2008

Workers at Gourmet Mokai Ltd near Taupo walked off the job in disgust at management’s attitude toward their current Collective Agreement negotiations. The company, which produces tomatoes and capsicums, has repeatedly cancelled meetings with the Northern Amalgamated Workers Union who have been trying to meet with bosses since November. At a report-back meeting on Monday 7 April, unionists issued an ultimatum to management: agree to meet us, or we’re out on strike for 48 hours. Bosses replied that they were not prepared to commit to a date there and then, and the workers promptly pulled the pin!

Management responded by threatening to bus workers over from a site in Woodhill, near Auckland to replace striking workers. Undeterred, the workers held a picket line the following day. Far from wanting to scab on their mates, workers at Woodhill asked if the Mokai crew needed any support. In the end, management decided to play ball, and have set a date for further negotiations.


Foreign ownership - a vital issue for the left?

April 11, 2008

The announcement today by the Labour Government that it will veto the bid by the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board to take a 40% stake in Auckland airport has met with strong approval from some sections of the NZ left such as the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) and the Green Party. But why are these groups so fixated on the issue of foreign ownership, when even under local ownership Auckland Airport is run just like any other profit making capitalist business and has over recent years been the scene of numerous incidences of industrial action by its workers fighting for better wages and conditions?

Below we reprint an article from the October 2007 issue of The Spark which looks at the nationalist crusade against foreign ownership of Auckland airport in greater detail:

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