Lessons of 1951: The Waterfront Lockout 60 Years On

March 6, 2011

By Josh Glue, Workers Party Hamilton Branch

The waterfront lockout of 1951 was one of the most important events in New Zealand labour history. For 151 days the men who worked the waterfront and those who supported them fought back against the combined power of the ship-owners and the state, determined to force cutbacks upon them and destroy their union. Seen as an historical defeat by some, an inspiring fight-back by others, the waterfront lockout holds important lessons to those who struggle for workers rights today.

In this first of two articles about this pivotal moment in the history of the working class of this country, we will look at the history of the Waterfront Workers Union and the events that led up to the lockout. In the second article, to be published in the April issue of The Spark Magazine, we will examine the way the lockout ended, the repercussions of that conclusion then, and the relevance of these events for working New Zealanders today.
Read the rest of this entry »

Videos from Libya

March 4, 2011

Liberated Libya rejects US intervention

Benghazi Commune - Capital of Libyan revolution!

videos from The Real News Network.

Interview with Joe Carolan: Left alternative gains in Ireland’s general elections

March 3, 2011

Hailing originally from Ireland where he was active in the Socialists Workers Party, Joe Carolan is a leading member of Socialist Aotearoa. Here he is interviewed by Ian Anderson (Wellington branch of Workers Party and The Spark editorial board).

The Spark: Could you start by recapping what shifts happened in this year’s Irish General Election?

Joe: Well, to start with there was the complete electoral destruction of the favoured ruling class party Fianna Fail. They lost over 60 seats, including seats they’ve held since they first formed as a constitutional political party. In part this represents the death of nationalist illusions in the party, which had to do with their historical participation in the Civil War. The illusion of Fianna Fail as an upholder of national sovereignty was broken by their sell-out to the IMF and to neoliberalism in general.

Then you had the destruction of the Irish Green Party. The Green Party was exposed in two respects. Firstly they demonstrated that Green Parties are not automatically on the left, similar to Germany where the Greens helped to attack the working class and push through neoliberalism. They also sold out principles of their own, for example their craven surrender to Shell Oil, or the use of Shannon Airport by the US Military. So those two ruling parties lost a lot of ground, and good riddance.

There were significant gains by Fine Gael, the other major ruling class party. The split between the major ruling class parties does not go down left/right lines, and has more to do with the Civil War. Fine Gael came from the tradition of IRA leader Michael Collins, who accepted a free state with partition, while Fianna Fail is associated more with republicanism, the idea of a united Irish state.

Fine Gael is socially liberal, so many liberals treat it as a natural ally. The Labour Party has pursued a strategy of coalitions with Fine Gael.

Sinn Fein, a group broadly associated with left republicanism, has also gained seats – even, to their own surprise, in areas they have never previously held. They’ve grown from 4 seats to 13. The growth of Sinn Fein, the growth of the Irish Labour Party, and electoral support for the new United Left Alliance show a strong desire for change among the Irish working class.

The parties have not yet formed a coalition. Read the rest of this entry »

Victory for Dunedin Pizza Hut workers

March 1, 2011

Alastair Reith

Pizza Hut workers in Dunedin have battled for their rights against the bosses and won.

Dunedin’s two Pizza Hut stores were recently sold to new bosses. Upon taking ownership of the stores, the new bosses tried to force all the workers to sign new, individual contracts with inferior terms and conditions and a 90 day fire at will probationary period. This would be laughable if it wasn’t so outrageous - at the North D store the workers have been there for between two and eight years, and without a doubt know the job much better than their new employers!

What the manager clearly didn’t take into account was that these workers are union members. Both sites are Unite Union strongholds - the workers are staunch, aware of their rights, and aware of both the need to fight back and the power they have when they do so. All the workers refused to sign the new contracts, and today they walked off the job in protest.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wgtn meeting: Democracy in the Arab World

March 1, 2011

The workers party and Peace Action Wellington present
Public meeting on Democracy in the Arab World
Dr Nigel Parsons :  Egypt After the Revolution:
What to expect from Egyptian institutions
Omar Khamoun  : Is Arab culture compatible with democracy?
Joel Cosgrove:   The limits of western democracy and the politics of stability
6:00 PM  Thursday March 3rd  Mezzanine Meeting Room Wellington Central Library.


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