We Must Demand Complete and Immediate Withdrawal from Afghanistan

October 13, 2009

Reprinted from Kasama.

I think what is posed in Medea Benjamin’s interview is a rather simple and important question: Can U.S. imperialism and its troops play a positive role in some circumstances?

The U.S. invades the remote and impoverished Afghanistan in 2001, topples the fragile regime of Taliban theocrats (which never consolidated countrywide power in the civil war). And now it is argued that the U.S. invaders “can’t” leave in an “irresponsible” way because the survival of a number of people (including women’s activists) would be in danger and because their withdrawal would most likely mean a return of the Taliban.

Should we carefully evaluate U.S. aggressions on a case-by-case basis? Is this U.S. military base good, and that one bad? Is this U.S. bombing helpful, and that one excessive? Is this U.S. nuclear threat helpful, and that one unfair? Is this U.S. drone doing good work, and that one intruding dangerously? Is this U.S. occupation shielding and promoting positive forces — while that U.S. occupation cultivates more negative puppets? Do we support U.S. domination until someone better comes along (who we approve of) to take their place?

Or does the U.S. military (globally and everywhere) represent a coherent means of imposing and enforcing a particular global order on humanity generally — an order that is rooted in horrific oppression and exploitation (including the widespread commodification of women as both workers and sexual slaves, and the traditional domestic servitude of literally billions of women and girls)

Read the rest of this entry »


Bus drivers stay strong

October 12, 2009

Day five of the Auckland Bus Drivers lockout and the workers are still standing firm. The mood on the picket line at the North Shore depot was determined, with drivers saying they are prepared for a showdown that may last two weeks, like their last lockout four years ago.

Auckland bus drivers outside a bus depot

Auckland bus drivers outside a bus depot

One longstanding driver told us: “When NZ Bus took over from Stagecoach a few years back, we thought, yay, we’ll see some improvement at last now it’s a New Zealand employer. But the truth is, they are no better than Stagecoach!”


An Exclusive Education

October 12, 2009

Reprinted from the Capital Times. Organising meeting 5pm Wednesday, Collins Room, Student Union Building, Victoria University of Wellington.

ONCE upheld as the bastion of liberal thinking in Wellington, Victoria University is turning into a capitalist business, say past students.
Workers Party parliamentary aspirant and political activist Don Franks has had a long association with the university. He was a student in 1968, worked as a cleaner there during the 1990s, and was the event-coordinator for the Students’ Association for 18 months. He says it’s clear the university no longer tolerates political dissent, and the barring of two former students following a protest against fee rises recently is the clincher.

“Suddenly people are booted off the premises. Just about every student is pissed off about the fee rises. What I’ve observed is things tightening up in an ugly way,” Franks says.

He says this extends to the programmes the university offers – a dwindling number of “more liberal studies” and an increase in business related degrees.

Read the rest of this entry »


Recession and Redundancy

October 11, 2009

The Spark October 2009
John Edmundson

As the recession has bitten, redundancies have risen and unemployment figures have begun to climb, Labour’s Darien Fenton has had her Private Member’s Bill drawn from the ballot. The Bill would enforce a minimum redundancy payout on all employers, starting at four weeks pay after one year of employment. The Labour Party of course is the party that introduced the Employment Relations Act, which does not even provide a definition of the word redundancy, let alone provide significant protection for workers. New Zealand workers actually have no legal right to redundancy compensation and very few have provision for it in their contracts.

Workers at LWR’s Wairarapa sites who were made redundant earlier this year have been told that they are unlikely to receive any more than seventy percent of their entitlement in redundancy and holiday pay. Approximately eighty percent of staff with written employment agreements (contracts) have no redundancy provisions at all according to a Massey University survey commissioned for the Department of Labour’s Restructuring and Redundancy Public Advisory Group. Read the rest of this entry »


The state of the working class

October 11, 2009

The Spark October 2009
Philip Ferguson

The recession has been officially declared over, thanks to 0.1% economic growth in the last quarter. The government and various economic experts agree, however, that more jobs will be lost over the next year to 18 months.

In The Spark, we’ve consistently argued that the current global recession is nothing like on a par with the Great Depression of the 1930s nor is it the worst global downturn since then. Current trends suggest we made the right call, while many on the left vastly overplayed the degree of economic crisis. However, we’ve also pointed out that it is equally important to remember that this is actually about as good as it gets under capitalism these days - short mini-booms, often in the artificial economy, followed by recessions, with workers usually ending up worse off after each recovery than they were after the previous recovery. Read the rest of this entry »


PFLP: Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize is a mockery

October 11, 2009

Reprinted from the PFLP website. To help raise funds for the PFLP, click here.

The awarding of U.S. President Barack Obama with the Nobel Peace Prize is an absurdity that undermines any meaning or legitimacy of the prize, said a spokesperson for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine on October 9, 2009.

The PFLP spokesperson said that while there are numerous notorious recipients of the prize, including Henry Kissinger and Shimon Peres, both proud war criminals, the awarding of the prize to Obama, while he presides over two wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, threatens a new war against Iran, and continues to unreservedly support the occupation, subjugation and aggression against the Palestinian people, is a slap in the face to the people of the world struggling to throw off the chains of U.S. imperialism.

Read the rest of this entry »


Solidarity appeal - oppose the trespass orders at Victoria University

October 8, 2009

Workers Party activists Heleyni Pratley and Joel Cosgrove have been trespassed from Victoria University for two years for participating in a student protest against University fee rises, some of them being of over 90%.  The student action was similar to fee-setting protests of the last few years; a small group in the Hunter building chamber holding signs and interjecting speakers.  At this year’s protest Joel threw a solitary egg which did not hit anyone.  Heleyni threw nothing and instead stood prominently holding a Workers Party banner calling for “free education from kindergarten to PhD”.  They and other activists cleaned up the eggshells before peacefully leaving the premises.

Joel has been trespassed for throwing an egg which he cleaned up afterwards.  Heleyni has been trespassed for nothing other than speaking her mind.  She is being publicly attacked by the university for exercising her democratic right to protest and express free speech.  She is being punished to make an example to anybody else, student or otherwise, who is considering standing up to an increasingly repressive university administration at Victoria.

Joel was initially trespassed over the phone by a man named Darryl, who refused to give his last name or any way of verifying his statement, although he later received trespass notices twice in his mail box.

Heleyni was met at her door by two men sent by the university, who demanded to know where Joel was.  When asked to leave, the two attempted to physically force their way into the property, against Heleyni’s repeated requests for them to go, causing her to feel so threatened that she felt she had to slam the door shut and lock it to protect herself from the threat of violence.  While this was happening they were yelling through the door in an abusive, aggressive manner that as she was Joel’s girlfriend she was also trespassed.  Escaping in a friend’s car, Heleyni was shadowed for sometime by the two men who followed her in a large, black SUV.

There is a clear pattern emerging of Victoria University administration’s opposition to basic democracy and free speech on campus and also political targeting of particular activists.  Earlier this year, for instance, Workers Party activist Ian Anderson was expelled for filming an anti-war protest on campus.

This extreme intolerance by university authorities of minimal student protest is unreasonable and unhealthy.  It needs to be resisted and halted.  Please join us in calling for the immediate lifting of all trespasses by Victoria University and an end to harrasment of all activists.

We’re asking for a practical hand of solidarity to be extended.  Please discuss this issue in your organization, move a motion of solidarity, make a press statement, write to the Victoria Vice Chancellor and sign our statement. For a copy of the statement, contact wgtnworkersparty@gmail.com


Solidarity statement

October 7, 2009

In light of attacks on activists by Victoria University, the Workers Party has recieved this solidarity statement from Georgina Morrison, co-convenor of the Young Greens. Click here for more information.

“Engaging in peaceful protest is a fundamental human right” (Helen Clark) and I’m disgusted at the excessive harshness shown by Victoria University’s actions.

New Zealand has a proud history of leaders who have stood up for their beliefs. Historical protests to keep New Zealand nuclear-free, homosexual law reform and women’s suffrage are but a few of those which have advanced New Zealand’s progressive thinking.

However, the university’s ongoing actions to persecute the rights of their students to protest and express free speech is draconian and a bullying tactic from an institution that has forgotten they exist instead of merely to create profits.

Victoria University should be ashamed that it has resorted to intimidating and threatening measures to bully citizens from their right to free speech.


Vestas: Timeline of an occupation

October 7, 2009

The occupation of Vestas wind turbine factory on the normally conservative Isle of Wight (IoW) in Britain is an inspiration to all workers facing redundancy. Reprinted from workersliberty.org, here is the story so far…

28 April: After telling workers, in 2008, that they planned to re-fit the factories in 2009 to produce larger blades with a better production process, the Danish based multinational Vestas announces instead that it will close the IoW wind turbine blade factories, the only such factories in Britain.

15 June: Socialist activists from the group Workers’ Liberty arrive in the IoW to start leafleting and talking to workers about the Vestas factory closure and ways to resist it.

3 July: Anti-capitalist environmentalists from Workers’ Climate Action (WCA) and the local Trades Council call a public meeting to discuss campaigning against the closure of the Vestas factories. Read the rest of this entry »


Nepal - Ripe for Revolt

October 7, 2009

Alistair Reith The Spark October 2009

Since the resignation of the Maoists from government earlier this year, Nepal has been engulfed in political turmoil. Maoist members of the Constituent Assembly have been protesting and preventing the parliament from operating. Rallies, strikes and clashes between supporters of different parties have become a part of everyday life, and the leadership of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has been making increasingly loud and frequent threats of a ‘people’s revolt’.

The Maoists continue to alternate demands for a national government to be formed under the leadership of their party with threats of revolt if this does not happen. They also assure that the formation of a new national government will be a means for them to move towards full-blown popular revolt. Vice-Chair of the party (which has recently adopted a system of multiple vice-chairs and a more collective form of leadership) Baburam Bhattarai stated that there is “no alternative” to a Maoist-led government. He said that if this does not happen, it will be impossible to move forward with the peace process and the drafting of a new constitution. Read the rest of this entry »


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