The ‘War on Resistance’

August 11, 2010

Mike Walker, PFLP Solidarity Campaign coordinator
The Spark August 2010

On the 20th of September 2001, during a joint session of congress, George Bush uttered the now famous phrase “every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” The resulting ‘War on Terror’ is not only being fought on the battle field but also in the minds of people worldwide through a complex web of legislation and International Law. New Zealand is an active participant in the global war against terror being led by the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq. But this should be understood within the context of New Zealand’s long history of repressing its own population. Read the rest of this entry »

Vatukoula’s 19-year miners strike

August 11, 2010

Byron Clark
The Spark
August 2010

The Fiji Mineworkers Union is currently seeking a resolution to one of the worlds longest running industrial disputes, over 340 workers have been on strike in the town of Vatukoula since 1991. In the 19 years since the strike began, the mine was closed (in 2006), sold, and re-opened under the ownership of another company, at which point none of the striking miners were re-hired. In recent times, gold production and sales have surged in Vatukoula while the former Emperor Gold employees continue to seek redress for their grievances. The miners continue to live in company housing and picket the mine regularly. The Spark examines the role the town of Vatukoula has played in Fiji’s labour history, and the exploitation of workers and the environment by multinational mining companies.
A Company Town

Vatukoula Mine

Gold was first discovered in the Vatukoula, in the north of Viti’ Levu by an Australian prospector in 1932, and the establishment of a mine by an Australian mining company, Emperor Gold Mining, followed soon after. Still a British colony, Emperor Gold practised what the Fiji Times has labelled “colonial-style mine management”. In a thesis submitted to the University of Vermont, Mary Ackley outlines what this means: Read the rest of this entry »

Industrial disputes

August 11, 2010

The Spark August 2010


Housekeepers at the Rendezvous Hotel in central Auckland had been faced with the same trick by management every time collective bargaining came around: the company invariably delayed the settlement, cheating the workers out of months worth of back pay.

This year the company’s offer was 1.5% to cover them until June 2012 (the workers had got nothing last year), and the bosses also wanted to take one day’s sick leave entitlement off them. The workers, members of the SFWU, responded with a one day strike on the day that a big conference was being held at the hotel. The company retaliated with a lockout of the workers that lasted 13 days.

The union challenged the legality of the lockout in court, but lost that battle. The dispute was finally settled at mediation with an increase of 25c per hour (the equivalent of just under 2% for most of the workers), the term of the agreement was reduced to one year and the workers retained their sick day. The expiry of the current Collective Agreement is well timed to coincide with the Rugby World Cup. Read the rest of this entry »


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