Workers rights from day 1

February 28, 2009

Around 30 people picketed outside National MP Nicky Wagner’s office on Friday 27 February in protest at the government’s 90 day sacking law.90-day-protest-chch

The picket was called by the Workers Rights Campaign, a joint WP-Alliance initiative which has broadened out to involve class-struggle anarchists, Socialist Workers and anyone who wants to oppose the 90-day legislation on an anti-capitalist basis.

Wagner’s staff locked the doors, apparently fearing an occupation although one hadn’t been planned. Occupations can wait until the first firings start.

The attendance included Workers Party, Alliance, Socialist Workers, anarchists (including from the new Workers Solidarity Movement), and small contingents from both the EPMU and SFWU, with their union banners, plus some high school students from Unlimited (an alternative school in the city centre).

Picket against new “Fire-at-Will” law in Christchurch

February 26, 2009


Press Release: Workers Rights Campaign

Canterbury’s newly-formed Workers Rights Campaign is planning a symbolic picket at the offices of Government M.P. Nicola Wagner to protest at the new “fire-at-will” provisions of New Zealand’s industrial law.

Campaign spokesman Paul Piesse said today that the justification for the new law, which allows employers to sack workers within the first three months of their employment without giving any reason at all, let alone any justification, is a hypocritical sham.

The big lie, Mr Piesse said, is the deceit that the law would encourage employers to take on people they otherwise would not. Employers, he said, only ever employ people when they really need them. Their objective is to maximise their profits - they don’t function as a social service to the unemployed.

Neither do they engage the least appealing applicant; and nor will they because of the new law.

The Workers Rights Campaign says that the law is a breach of civil rights, in that it discriminates against a specific group of citizens - job applicants - distinguishing them from those already employed.

Mr Piesse added that the law is aimed at the most vulnerable: the young; casual and part time workers; those made redundant from their previous employment - likely to be a rapidly increasing number of New Zealanders; anyone changing jobs; and older workers.
The Workers Rights Campaign will picket the premises of any employer availing him/herself of this contemptible new law when it is brought to its attention.

Mr Piesse said that the new law was just the start of an employer-Government campaign to make working people pay the price of the inevitable and cyclic crisis of the capitalist system.

The picket at Wagner’s office, 189 Montreal St Christchurch, will take place on Friday 27th February at 1 p.m.

Bolivia fights back against imperialism

February 24, 2009

-Tim Bowron

On January 25 Bolivians voted by a large majority to approve a new constitution designed to give greater control over the country’s natural resources to the indigenous majority of the Andean nation.Evo Morales

The constitution, which was championed by Bolivian President Evo Morales (a former Aymara peasant activist and leader of the left nationalist Movimiento al Socialismo/MAS), was the culmination of nearly two decades of struggle by the indigenous majority to wrest back control of their lands from the blanco elites and their friends the foreign multinationals. During the 1990s Bolivia saw a succession of governments embark on an unprecedented campaign of privatisation including the full or partial sale of the state-owned oil, gas, electricity and telecommunications industries. In 2000 the then-President (and former military dictator) Hugo Banzer signed a contract with a consortium led by US company Bechtel to give it exclusive rights over the supply of water and sanitation services in the city of Cochabamba, with local residents forbidden from collecting their own water through rainwater tanks or other natural methods.

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Will the Council of Trade Unions put workers first?

February 23, 2009

-Don Franks

For some weeks now, top union leaders have been muttering about a possible National government attack on unions’ access to worksites. The present law allows union representatives to enter workplaces to visit existing union members and recruit new members. Union officials must produce identification, tell the employer the purpose of their visit and not take up too much time, or enter at very busy times.

These rights were denied by National’s Employment Contracts Act and restored by the last Labour government. Restoration of right of entry was the one big concession Labour made to the union movement. Now, it is increasingly being rumoured, John Key’s lot will remove unions’ right of entry again.

The rumours came out in the open in Council of Trade Unions President Helen Kelly’s Dominion Post column of February 23rd. There, in an article headlined; Will Government put the country first? Kelly claimed:

“National still intends to reduce worker’s rights by making union access to a workplace dependant on employer approval.”

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Making the state sector more profitable

February 22, 2009

One area of reform proposed by post-neo-liberals such as Skilling and Weldon which has the potential to involve some serious upheaval is the state sector.

A problem for capitalism is that all kinds of activities - some standard industrial and commercial activities as well as ‘public good’ activities like health and education - require a significant state-owned sector within the economy.  In New Zealand, the state has been a major player since capitalism first arrived here in the nineteenth century.  Without the state, little of the infrastructure would have been built, for instance.  The inability of private capital alone to create a modern capitalist economy, complete with infrastructure (from banking to railways to mass communications), meant the state had to pick up the slack.  The state could do this because it had access to chunks of surplus-value through direct and indirect taxation, could borrow on a massive scale and did not need to make a quick and substantial profit.  The state could, in fact, produce goods and services outside the operation of the law of value - in other words, it could produce and provide goods and services without profit being built into the price; in fact often goods and services were produced and provided below cost.  Private capital could make use of these goods and services without paying a price which reflected their actual value.

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Oppose “guilt by accusation”

February 21, 2009

One week from now New Zealand’s new copyright laws will come into effect, including the “guilt by accusation” clause (Section 92A) meaning Internet Service Providers will be forced to take down internet connections and websites of anyone accused (not convicted) of copyright infringement. The Workers Party is opposed to this clause and supports the protests against it that have been occurring. As well as section 92A we support repealing the parts of the law criminalising circumventing the so-called “Technological Protection Measures” on media such as DVDs, something we have covered in detail here.

Raising the minimum wage

February 21, 2009

Unite Union is spearheading a new campaign for a decent hike in the minimum wage. The campaign will take to the streets, with a petition for a referendum being the main tool used by activists to start discussions with workers about how we can raise wages and win control in our workplaces.

 The petition calls for the minimum wage to be raised to $15 immediately, and then in steps over the next three years until it reaches two-thirds of the average wage.

 ”These steps will increase purchasing power in the economy by directing help to those who need it most,” says Unite’s Mike Treen. “The economic crisis facing the world is the toxic product of insatiable greed at the top and the free-market policies of governments that removed all controls. The end result is a skewing of income and wealth so that the rich got richer and the poor fell off the edge.”

 Look out for the campaign coming soon to a neighbourhood near you!

Where to for the New Zealand economy?

February 20, 2009

- Philip Ferguson

This is the second of a two-part feature; the first looked at how a capitalist economy works (and doesn’t work), while this part looks at trends in the NZ economy, government policy and the February 28 Jobs Summit

The state of the New Zealand economy today, like that of the global economy, is best understood in the context of the end of the post-WW2 boom (around 1973-74), the onset of a protracted period of capitalist economic crisis and the failure of counter-crisis measures (both Keynesian and neo-liberal) to solve the problems that came to the fore with the end of the boom, let alone open up the road to a new period of dynamic growth on the same kind of level as the postwar boom.

As we noted in last month’s paper, the end of the boom and the onset of a new period of crisis was the result of the working out of the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, a process which is built into capitalism.  In New Zealand, the crisis was exacerbated by the loss of traditional markets, dependence on imports such as oil and the use of Keynesian policies to try to escape the crisis.  None of these latter factors were causal, but they did make the problems worse.

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Maina’s story

February 17, 2009

Film screening Blockhouse Bay Community Hall Sunday 1 March 2009

Maina is based on the real story of a 15 year old girl from a remote village in Nepal. She was arrested by the Royal Nepal Army and brutally killed. Maina Sunar’s case got attention because of the struggle of her mother, Debi, to find out what had happened to her daughter. Debi’s single-handed fight for justice when she found out Maina had been tortured and murdered got full media attention. The Nepali Times describes the film as “gritty in its cinematography, portraying the stark reality of rural Nepal in a time of war”.

The premier showing of this moving story was inaugurated by Nepal’s new Prime Minister Prachanda.

‘I began thinking of making the film in 2006, (after the fall of King Gyanendra’s army-backed government),’ said Pathak, who, as a communist filmmaker took part in the anti-king protests that rocked Nepal in April 2006.

‘Even after the restoration of democracy, the killers got away scot-free, impunity flourished and there was still no rule of law. I made the film to pressure the government into punishing Maina’s killers, to serve as a reminder to the political parties how things are during a dictatorial regime.’Nepali filmmaker K.P. Pathak chose Maina’s story among the tens of thousands of wrenching tales of torture, executions and disappearances to make ‘Maina’, the first Nepali film to look at the conflict in Nepal and its legacy through the eyes of the victim’s family. (

scene where army seize Maina at her home

scene where army seize Maina at her home

English subtitles

Screening at Blockhousebay Community Hall Sunday 1 March 2009. Show will start at 6:45pm 524 Blockhouse Bay Road, Blockhouse Bay, Auckland . Fundraiser: $10 entry

Solidarity for sacked workers - join the patrol

February 15, 2009

From March ’09 workers in small businesses will be able to be sacked for  no reason at all, in their first 90 days of employment. 

In Auckland Unite union and other groups, including the Workers Party, have been preparing  to defend workers sacked under the new law

You can expect to see Unite’s 6 meter high inflatable rat outside any workplace where people are sacked under the new law.

To prepare for solidarity pickets and build more support teams

Meet: Saturday, February 28, 12 noon, Aotea Square, CBD

Several hundred people have already registered at Workers Party stalls to give solidarity to any sacked workers.


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