Presidential coup in Nepal

June 22, 2009

The Spark June 2009
Alastair Reith

 The last time The Spark carried news from Nepal, the story was positive. The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) had been elected to government with just under forty percent of the seats (more than the next two parties put together). Its leader Prachanda was Prime Minister. Previous to this, it had waged a decade long People’s War that liberated eighty percent of the countryside and radicalised the workers and peasants of the country in support of revolutionary change. Under the slogan of a new Nepal, the Maoist-led government attempted to bring about land reform, build national industry, empower and improve the lives of workers, and fight against the domination of foreign imperialism, and Indian expansionism. However, this article describes events of a much less positive nature.

Over the past months, the Maoist government has been almost completely unable to advance its revolutionary programme due to the resistance of its coalition partners. At every turn, it found its progressive efforts blocked by the non-revolutionary parties it had formed a government with. Read the rest of this entry »

Flight attendants fight Air NZ

June 22, 2009

The Spark June 2009

Air New Zealand flight attendants working for Zeal 320 Ltd took industrial action beginning in March. After months of unsuccessful negotiations between Zeal and the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), the 240 union members employed as flight attendants decided they had had enough. The workers, most of whom are young women with no previous union experience, are employed by Zeal 320 Ltd but work for Air New Zealand. They wear the same uniforms, fly on the same aircraft and are in every respect exactly the same as flight attendants employed directly by Air New Zealand – except in their employment contracts.

Zeal 320 Ltd, a wholly Air New Zealand owned subsidiary, was set up to employ staff on the now defunct cut price Freedom Air. When Freedom Air was absorbed into its parent company, the staff were kept on their Zeal contracts, meaning that they earn thousands of dollars less every year than their co-workers employed directly by Air New Zealand. Zeal staff are employed on a lower base rate than Air New Zealand staff. They are denied many basic allowances such as dry cleaning and other clothing related compensation that people on Air New Zealand contracts receive. The allowances they do receive are generally lower than the Air New Zealand equivalents. Read the rest of this entry »


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