Palestine Photo Exibition in Christchurch

July 29, 2010

Occupation and Resistance

Photos from ‘ActiveStills Photography Collective’ (Israel)

August 15 - 21 Linwood Community Arts Centre, Corner of Stanmore Rd and Worcester St.

Opening Sunday August 15th 5pm-7pm Normal hours 12-4pm weekdays and 12-3pm Sunday.

Free Entry

Class war song

July 22, 2010

Don Franks

Wellington protest against new anti-worker laws

You stand at fifty bosses doorways clutching your cv
At last you score a part time gig to clean the lavatory
You keep it spotless ninety days but then you’re out the door
You don’t have to be in the army to fight in the war

You wake up with a runny nose a cough and aching head
You ring in sick and tell the boss you need a day in bed
He says you need  a doctor’s note to prove you’re really sore
You don’t have to be in the army to fight in the war

Down you go to WINZ to try and get a benefit
They talk to you as though they’re looking at a piece of shit
They say you might find  casual work if you shift down to Gore
You don’t have to be in the army to fight in the war

Away up in the Beehive they all sit on their arse
Taking turns to suck more blood out of the working class
Labour brought in GST ,  National made it more
You don’t have to be in the army to fight in the war

Now you see your situation  as looking very bleak
But its just in isolation that the working folks are weak
Stand up and show the bastards what a union’s really for!
You don’t have to be in the army  to fight in the war
No, you don’t have to be in the army to fight in the war.

“This means class war! Smash the anti-union laws!”

July 18, 2010

Daphna Whitmore

There was a spirited protest outside the National Party conference in Auckland today. The Herald reported the turnout at 300. At one point dozens of protesters stormed into the hotel where the conference was being held.

Storming the conference hotel

John Minto speaking at the protest

Despite Key earlier saying National wouldn’t make a move on labour laws this term, the government has now launched an attack on union rights. Given the diminished strength of the union movement it seems like “over kill”. On the other hand, it could be that the capitalists feel that the limited rights currently enjoyed by workers are excessive, and that the unions have not earned those rights.

While many workers may have little understanding of the concept of union access rights and what is at stake, most will be angered by the extension of the 90 day trial period. That will affect a big chunk of the working class.

The measures announced by the Nats today are just what the small and medium sized employers have been calling for, but are not a central concern of big employers. Big employers have no problem sacking workers and handling the mediation process under current legislation. Few sacked workers are ever reinstated, but small employers want to dispense with even the pretence of “fairness”.

At the rally today a  Dairy Worker’s Union representative said they’d be taking the fight to the workplace and be calling on workers to strike to defend fellow workers sacked in the 90 day period.

One action like that would be worth a thousand mediations.

When workers rights are under attack – Stand Up, Fight Back!

July 17, 2010

Alastair Reith

The rights of every worker in this country are under attack.

90 Day Fire at Will and Union Access Leaflet

Protest outside the National Party conference  at Sky City Hotel (Main entrance 72 Victoria Street West, Auckland City) on Sunday 18th July 10am

The National Government has just announced a number of significant changes to the Employment Relations Act. There are five major changes:

1: The 90 day legislation will be extended to workplaces with less than 50 staff, and probably to all workplaces soon afterwards. These laws let the boss fire you for whatever reason he likes in the first 90 days, and you can’t take out a personal grievance. Basically, you can get fired for nothing and there’s nothing you can do.

2: The right of union organisers to access the workplace will be severely restricted on unionised sites. And on sites that do not already have a well established trade union, the boss may be able to prevent the union from even coming through the doors. This is an authoritarian and undemocratic move which will make it much harder for workers to organise and fight for their rights.

3: EREL Education and Training Leave for Delegates and Members is to be abolished. This prevents union members from coming together and planning with each other how to win a better deal for everybody. Union members will now be punished for taking part in union conferences, with the new laws forcing them to take time out of the few weeks of annual leave they get.

The Holidays Act is to be changed, with the fourth weeks holiday being sold. This leaves workers with very little time in the year to enjoy time off work with their families, or to travel or just relax. The politicians will try and justify this by saying workers are offered a choice, but in practice what this means is that the boss can pick and choose whether to allow more than three weeks holiday, and if you don’t like it? Well, you’ll be fired within 90 days! This will be especially true on non-unionised sites where workers have no protection.

5: Bargaining Agents will be able to take the place of Unions in Collective Contract Negotiations. This will give more power to “yellow” company unions and will allow bosses to exclude unions entirely in favour of professional corporate law firms Read the rest of this entry »

Does New Zealand need a population policy for the benefit of the environment?

July 17, 2010

This talk was originally given by Byron Clark at Marxism 2010, as part of a debate with John Robinson, a former academic who has researched and written on rising population.

A Few people here may be familiar with the enviornmental sociologist Allen Schnaiberg, Schnaiberg is the co-author of The Treadmill of Production: Injustice and Unsustainability in the Global Economy and a number of other works, tomorrow [June 6th] is the one year anniversary of his death and I would like to acknowledge the contributions he made to radical theory about society and the environment. Schnaiberg coined the term ‘populationism’ to describe the various movements aiming for a reduction in population, and wrote in his 1980 book ‘The Environment from Surplus to Scarcity’ that populationism is a social ideology that attributes social ills to the number of humans. While agreeing that there is of course a limit to the number of people the planet can hold, modern populationism and its historical precedents, says Schnaiberg are regressive, reactionary, and at times racist.

I’m going to talk about how the environmental destruction we are witnessing today, notably climate change, is not something we can attribute to ‘to many humans’ but something we can attribute to our social and economic system. Because of this, New Zealand does not need a population policy to benefit the environment, but can, with the right type of social change, sustain a much larger population.

Read the rest of this entry »

“The unpalatable truth” : a critique of the Council of Trade Unions Alternative Economic Strategy

July 16, 2010

The Spark July 2010
Philip Fergusson

Over the past quarter century, workers in New Zealand have been working longer, harder and faster for less pay and in worse conditions. For instance, as Unite union’s national director, Mike Treen, calculated, using official government figures on wages, in the period from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, real wages – what your wages can actually buy – declined by 25 percent. This decline was the result of the policies of the fourth Labour government and the first term of the fourth National government. Since then, wages have not recovered and remain only three-quarters of their 1982 level. (See:

The transfer of wealth upwards is also revealed in the fact that corporate profits as a share of GDP rose from 34% in the mid-1980s to 46% in 2005, while wages as a share of GDP fell from 57% at the end of the Muldoon era to 42% in 2005. Read the rest of this entry »

`Marxism 2010′ conference report

July 16, 2010

The Spark July 2010

Jared Phillips, Spark co-ordinating editor

The Workers Party held its annual national Marxism conference at Thistle Hall in Wellington over Queen’s Birthday weekend from June 4-7. It was a weekend of anti-imperialist theory and activity. Approximately seventy members, supporters and other interested people attended throughout the weekend.

Presenting and discussing revolutionary politics

The conference opened on the Friday night with WP national secretary Daphna Whitmore speaking on the revolutionary movement in India. The revolutionary zone spreads from the border with Nepal in the north to the southern states of India. This presentation and discussion was followed by John Edmundson, the WP’s national education officer, speaking on New Zealand’s imperialist role in the occupation of Afghanistan and the quagmire that the invading powers have found themselves in. Read the rest of this entry »

David Rovics gig in Christchuch

July 11, 2010

Purchase tickets on line here:

Greece Interview: “To have a general strike in Greece it is not such a big deal”

July 9, 2010

The Spark July 2010

In the last issue of The Spark we reported on recent events from the class struggle in Greece. Some of the fiercest popular resistance to the current crisis of capitalism has erupted in Greece over the last couple of years. The latest chapter in this unfolding drama has been the revelation that Greece is unable to pay back the huge foreign debt that it has accumulated during its years of economic growth since joining the eurozone in 2001. According to a report by Costas Lapavitsas and other economists (, the debt crisis is an inevitable consequence of the structure of the eurozone, which is extremely hierarchical.

A “core” comprising the richest countries (Belgium, France, Germany and Netherlands) dominates the “periphery” (Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain). Germany has acquired the dominant position in the capitalist “race to the bottom” by squeezing its workers hard in the aftermath of reunification.  German politicians and newspapers have been busy whipping up resentment against “profligate” Greeks, since a large chunk of the cost of the bailout package will fall on the German working class. However, it is only the militancy of the Greek workers that have prevented their living standards being pushed down even further than their already low level. It is time for German and other workers to start “learning Greek”!

Mike Kay, industrial officer for the Workers Party, who travelled in Greece in June, spoke to Stavros and Paulin from the OKDE (Organisation of Communist Internationalists of Greece) in Athens. Read the rest of this entry »


July 4, 2010

This year, Wellington group Brass Razoo Solidarity Band clocked up its tenth year of street performances in support of workers’ strikes and anti-war marches.

The Spark talked to BRSB founder Don Franks.

Spark: How did the band start off?

Brass Razzoo

Don: For a long time I’ve contributed little bits of music to support workers’ battles, like making up songs and singing them on picket lines with my banjo. One day I bought this ancient tenor horn for twenty bucks. My idea was to stick it on the wall as an ornament but when I tried blowing I found it still worked. Next day I took it to blarp at an anti-sow crate demo, where they wanted lots of noise. Walking home afterwards, I envisaged lots of horns being played properly at a demo. I recalled that postie John Maynard had played cornet when he was a kid, so I rang him up and said “John, how about we make a union band?” He was keen, and it took off from there. Five of us got together and began rehearsing a rough garage group with a cornet, tenor horn, tuba, snare drum, and a bass drum made out of a rubbish bin. Read the rest of this entry »


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