If you’re dissing the hookers you ain’t fighting the power

February 8, 2011

Reprinted from Not Afraid of Ruins blog.

The new Auckland Supercouncil has voted to support a submission in favour of the Regulation of Prostitution in Specific Places Bill. This law would let Supercouncil pass bylaws banning street workers in specific areas.

Arguments in favour of criminalizing street workers are usually about protecting families, and moral values, and community standards, and ‘won’t somebody think of the children?’

But sometimes these arguments are also about ‘won’t somebody think of the hookers?’ because, according to Sandra Coney, ‘she supported the bill because prostitution was harmful to women and led to violence and murder’.

Let me break this down for you:

Yes, being a street worker probably isn’t an ideal employment situation for most workers. It’s possible that some street workers work on the street because they truly prefer it. But I suspect most sex workers who work on the street are doing it because they don’t have other options, like working at a brothel, or for an escort agency, or hiring a flat to work from. Maybe brothels and agencies won’t hire them because of a drug dependency or maybe because they’re transgendered or maybe they just managed to piss off all the bosses and maybe they can’t afford to put an ad up on nzgirls.com and hire a flat or a hotel room.

The point is that those sex workers who work on the street are usually the ones who are most marginalized, most disadvantaged, most discriminated against and most vulnerable to exploitation. Sandra Coney is right to worry about their safety. But she is living in an alternate universe if she thinks giving the police more power over street workers is going to protect them. Actually, all that’ll happen is that the police will have even more power to exploit and oppress street workers. This law will allow police to arrest anyone they think might be a sex worker. Who do you think police think might be a sex worker?[1] This law isn’t going to prevent sex workers from working on the street. Because it doesn’t actually address any of the reasons some sex workers end up working on the street. All this law will do is make street workers’ lives more difficult and more dangerous.

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Freedom of expression @ work – a short interview with Julie Tyler

February 8, 2011
Julie Tyler

Julie Tyler

Friday January 4, Burger King held a disciplinary meeting against Dunedin employee Julie Tyler. Her alleged misconduct was the posting of the following sentence on a friend’s Facebook wall, ‘Real jobs don’t underpay and overwork like BK does’. Julie’s union, Unite, her friends, and other workers successfully built up public opposition against BK before the initial disciplinary meeting took place.

At the initial meeting Burger King adjourned the case until today, saying they were seeking further legal advice. During the adjournment BK’s censorship of staff members became a national media issue. BK New Zealand’s own Facebook page was jammed by comments of protest. Other Facebook groups - which attracted heavy traffic - were created and used in Julie’s defence. An informational picket was put on at Julie’s store today during the second disciplinary meeting. As a result the company has threatened legal action against Unite Union but Unite has replied that it will not be silenced.

The case not only raises issues surrounding the use of social media, it has also drawn attention to very basic working class issues such as freedom of expression and the right of workers to take action. Later on today we had the opportunity to have a quick word with Julie about how the case has unfolded so far:

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What is WikiLeaks and what has it done?

February 8, 2011

In this article, Ian Anderson, a member of the Wellington branch of the Workers Party, looks back on the breaking of state secrets – including with regard to NZ’s role in Iraq – and how WikiLeaks has helped shape recent international events.

By now everyone with access to mainstream media has heard of WikiLeaks. Whether it’s the latest head-line from a leaked diplomatic cable, or a development in the Assange rape allegation drama, WikiLeaks is a centre-piece in media coverage. This article aims to give some background and analysis, to put the headlines in context.

Launched in March 2006, WikiLeaks relies on donations through the non-profit sector. Donations are processed by the Wau Holland Foundation in Germany, a non-profit organisation named after a “data philosopher” who developed notions such as hacker ethics. WikiLeaks is also registered through various other organisations internationally, many with only covert affiliations.

Like so many NGO-ist operations, WikiLeaks strives for political neutrality and does not have an explicitly anti-imperialist mandate. Until recently they used the following mission statement:  “Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the West who wish to reveal unethical behaviour in their own governments and corporations.”

In its early days WikiLeaks exposed corruption in Kenya, and found itself in conflict with censorious Chinese authorities. However, the website ultimately shot to fame by exposing the machinations of Western imperialism. In April 2010, WikiLeaks released the first file from PFC Bradley Manning, a video nicknamed “Collateral Murder.” This video depicted the US army murdering Iraqi civilians and firing upon reporters in a 2007 airstrike. In the weeks following this leak “WikiLeaks” was the search-term with the most significant growth on Google.

In his position as Intelligence Analyst for the US military, Manning had leaked two videos of airstrikes and about 260,000 diplomatic cables – many still unreleased by WikiLeaks. After former hacker Adrian Lamo blew the whistle, Manning was arrested and placed in solitary confinement. WikiLeaks continues to release the cables in batches, despite various attempts to shoot the messenger.

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