“Free, free Kobad Ghandy”

April 29, 2010

Demonstration outside Indian embassy WellingtonFree Kobad demo WellingtonDemonstrators gathered at the Indian High Commission in Wellington to protest against Operation Green Hunt and the detention of Kobad Ghandy.

Kobad is a Maoist political leader, imprisoned since October 2009. His arrest is part of the Indian state’s attempt to crush all opposition.
Operation Green Hunt is a counter-insurgency strategy where tens of thousands of armed forces are trying to wipe out the Maoist movement that has support though a third of India. Read more here.

The protesters rallied outside the Indian embassy then marched to parliament. Chanting “free, free Kobad Ghandy”, and “stop the war on the poor” they handed out leaflets to the public and marched on into the city centre speaking about the lack of genuine democracy in India and the growing state repression.

No Peace for Zionist Embassy

April 29, 2010

PFLP Solidarity Campaign Press Release:

For immediate release, Wednesday 28th April 2010

Protest outside the Israeli embassy in Wellington

The Campaign of Solidarity with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine stands in solidarity with the struggling masses in Palestine, and wishes to make its intentions known that we will actively oppose the newly established Zionist embassy in Wellington. As long as Zionism is politically active and furthering its colonialist ambitions in Palestine any Israeli state institution or embassy here will be targeted for protest action. Read the rest of this entry »

Israeli embassy protest Wellington

April 28, 2010

Today people protested outside the newly opened Israeli embassy in Wellington. The demonstration was organised by NIEW (No Israeli Embassy in Wellington)Outside the Israeli embassy Wellington.

Members of the Workers Party carried a PFLP banner, and called for the release of Ah’mad Sa’adat the Palestinian resistance leader who has a jail sentence of 30 years.

Whanau Ora and Maori today

April 27, 2010

Phil Ferguson
The Spark
May 2010

On April 21, the report of the government-commissioned Whanau Ora taskforce was made public.  The key idea of Whanau Ora (“Well-being”) is the establishment of a one-stop- shop approach to the problems of individuals and families in relation to problems of health, education and the justice system.  Funds are to be diverted from existing stage agencies into a new Whanau Ora Trust which would contract out work to service providers to deal with the problems on a whanau basis.  In other words, where an individual family member had health, education or justice system problems, the individual would be viewed as part of their whanau and the whole whanau would be engaged in finding solutions.  This is seen as “empowering” both whanau and individual Maori.

Although Whanau Ora was originally conceived by its Maori Party architects as a programme for Maori, there is now agreement that all “families in need” will have access to the services provided through the programme. Read the rest of this entry »

April 25, 2010

Oppose Strike Ballot Law

April 25, 2010

By Mike Kay

A Private Member’s Bill introduced by the National Party MP Tau Henare has been drawn from the ballot to be debated in Parliament. The Bill proposes to amend the Employment Relations Act as follows:

“A strike may not proceed under this Act, unless the question has been submitted to a secret ballot of those employees who are members of the union that would become parties to the strike if it proceeded.”

The Council of Trade Unions has announced its “support in principle” for the bill, “as it largely reflects current practice.”

The British experience may be of some use in analysing the effect of secret ballots. Over there, the law has required a secret ballot prior to strike action for nearly 30 years. I asked an official with the Postal section of the Communication Workers Union his opinion on the issue. This is his response:

What the secret ballot does is slow things down and makes it impossible to take spontaneous official action as a response to something immediate. What tends to happen then with our members is that they walk out unofficially. We are required as a Union to formally repudiate this action, which we always do but no-one has ever taken any notice of this.

The problem with strike ballots is the law that surrounds them and the way judges interpret this. Recently both we and Unite have run into trouble with the law concerning the information you have to provide to the employer on who is going on strike. This has become ever more onerous and now requires us not just to provide names but grades and details of workplace. With the best will in the world, this is impossible to get exactly right but judges are becoming less tolerant about errors in the face of injunctions from the employer.

In summary, therefore, it’s not the secret ballot itself that’s the major issue. Most members would probably resist any move to take it away now. It’s the rules surrounding its application and who is in charge of drawing them up. If it’s the Union itself, then no problem. If it’s the state or the courts then they will certainly be designed to make striking more difficult.

Unite union in Britain (not connected with Unite in NZ) is currently in dispute with British Airways over the employer’s plans to cut 1,700 jobs, impose a two-year wage freeze and get cabin crew working longer for less. When union members were balloted in December for a planned 12 day strike over Christmas, they supported strike action by 92% on an 80% turnout. BA then used the High Court to have the strike ruled illegal on the basis of a spurious technicality relating to the balloting process.

Unfortunately, not all workers have the same level of confidence as the posties, who often defy such decisions. The Unite action was suspended while a second strike ballot was taken. The new result was still impressive, although unsurprisingly the loss of momentum meant that the “yes” vote dropped by around 10%.

This brief look at the situation in Britain indicates that the CTU has been very complacent by endorsing Henare’s bill. Even if the bill does reflect the current status quo, it is far better that the law remains silent on the matter (as it is now), than give the employers an opportunity to challenge strike ballots through the courts.

The CTU also ignores an important point of working class principle; unions are workers organisations and should be run by workers from top to bottom. The form of union processes should be a democratic decision for union members, not National party hacks.

We need a movement willing and capable of launching a militant campaign for positive workers’ rights, including the unrestricted right to strike. The CTU has proven once again that it has no intention of leading such a movement.

DVD Review: Looking For Eric (Dir: Ken Loach, 2009)

April 24, 2010

Mike Kay

“It all began with a beautiful pass from Eric Cantona.” So begins the latest film from socialist film maker Ken Loach.

From the movie’s outset, it is clear that Eric the postie is languishing in life’s relegation zone: estranged from his wife, unable to handle his teenage tearaway stepsons and contemplating suicide. In desperation, he raids his stepson’s marijuana stash, and after a couple of crafty tokes, he is astonished to discover that footballing legend Eric Cantona has appeared in his Manchester United-adorned bedroom. Cantona then proceeds to dispense considerate advice along with soupçons of his Gallic philosophy. Read the rest of this entry »

Kiwis first or workers first?

April 23, 2010

Below are extracts from two arguments taken from the discussion section of this website:

Phil Toms says:

I find your inability to empathise with your own tribe, those who share your culture, society, economy, welfare, accent, genes, a little breathtaking. Our economy, like that of Iceland or Greece, is vulnerable to sovereign bankruptcy. Germany has suggested Greece should sell some of its islands, which would lead to Greece actually being smaller.

This, I suppose is of no concern to you, capitalists selling to capitalists, but in the world we have to live in, if our economy shrinks we get poorer. It makes little difference whether it is an American capitalist corporation or a Chinese capitalist corporation, and perhaps it is you who imagine a difference. A company registered in the Cayman Islands does so to avoid paying tax where it actually does business, depriving that country of income, which translates into public money. Read the rest of this entry »

The Search and Surveillance Bill: A Threat to Our Civil Rights

April 22, 2010

Cameron Walker, Published in Craccum 19 April 2010

National Day of Action against the Search and Surveillance Bill: April 24
On Saturday 24th April there will be protests around the country against the Search and Surveillance Bill. The Auckland protest will start at 2pm, opposite the Town Hall, Queen Street.

The Search and Surveillance Bill is a law currently being debated by the New Zealand Parliament. According to its supporters, such as the National and Labour Parties, it is necessary because New Zealand’s laws relating to search and surveillance powers are currently spread across a large number of statutes and it would make things much easier for the Police and other state agencies if they were all put in one statute. However, the Bill not only does this but also creates a number of new powers for state agencies to monitor, search and detain people. The Auckland Council for Civil Liberties refers to it as ‘perhaps the greatest single expansion of state powers of entry, seizure and surveillance in New Zealand history’. Bizarrely the new powers are not just granted to the Police but also 70 other state agencies, including the Pork Board and Work and Income NZ (WINZ). At its first reading in Parliament only the Greens voted against it. Read the rest of this entry »

India – Stop Operation Green Hunt

April 16, 2010

PROTEST 12 midday Thursday 29 April

High Commission of India, 180 Molesworth Street, Wellington

India is at war. The government calls it ‘Operation Green Hunt’, and has sent tens of thousands of armed police and paramilitary troops to the vast forest region of Dandakaranya.

Arundhati Roy speaking with Maoists

There are two Indias – one is the new high tech economy; the other is the 800 million people who still live in poverty. The poorest of the poor are tribal people in the forests. Over the last thirty years they have joined India’s revolutionary Maoists and set up democratic organisations and a People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA). The territory they are active in has been dubbed ‘the Red Corridor’. Read the rest of this entry »


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