Smash the CMP lockout: Fund established, give money now!

October 29, 2011

Around 100 meat workers in Rangatikei - a provincial township in the Manawatu area - were locked out by Canterbury Meat Packers (CMP) ten days ago.

According to a CTU release the company is attempting to require the union (New Zealand Meat Workers Union)  to sign up to a 20-30% wage decrease before any return to work. We also understand that the company is trying to disestablish the 35-hour week and increase the weekly hours of work per employee.

Traditionally the meat industry has contained a powerful section of the workers movement in New Zealand. Because of this the bosses have consciously attacked meat industry employment conditions over the past few decades. Generally the meat industry has been an area in which militant workers and some sections of the left have worked hard to extend and uphold conditions. The 35-hour week (which is particularly important in the meat industry given the physical demand of the work) is an example of these efforts.

The CMP bosses announced record profits last year. This is obviously a strategic attack. By maintaining the lockout they appear to be ‘digging in’.

Workers shirts read 'Sit on this CMP'. This is an important dispute for all industrial and low-paid workers in New Zealand. (Photo taken from Manawatu Standard online)

The bosses cannot be allowed to win as this would make a precedent for further attacks on the working class particularly in the meat industry.

 Unions are encouraging local and Wellington people to attend the week-day picket line and give donations of food and supplies. Additional picket line infrastructure is also required such as trailers, gazebos, etc.

 The CTU has set up a dispute fund for contributions. The account number is 38-9007-0894028-08.

Initially Workers Party  has donated $200 and members will be collecting, including amongst dairy industry workers in Hamilton and at Occupy Wellington. We pledge to increase our donation to a modest $500 over the next few days.  We also urge all New Zealand readers of this website who are in comfortable employment to donate the equivalent of one day’s pay.

Occupied Dominion Post: letter to the editor

October 29, 2011

Originally printed in Issue 2 of the Occupied Dominion Post, publication by members of Occupy Wellington.

A recent (Unoccupied) Dominion Post opinion poll presented readers with the choices of supporting Occupy Wellington, or agreeing that “they need to get jobs.” Coupled with generally unsympathetic coverage from the capitalist press, this raised the hackles of some occupiers. At the Occupy Wellington Labour Day march, occupiers carried placard stating “I have a job and an occupation” or “I have two jobs, university and an occupation” - variations on the placard “I lost my job, found an occupation.”

The Occupy Together movement draws in supporters from diverse backgrounds, with a range of employment situations. Many of the core organisers have other commitments, including work and study. Those with full-time work and families may not have the time or energy for urban camping - so they support the movement by donating food or resources, by organising workshops, by coming to General Assemblies. This movement is a broad church.

More to the point, unemployment is a product of the system Occupy Together collectively challenges. Capitalism requires a reserve army of labour, a pool of unemployed workers to keep the labour market competitive. Under neoliberalism - the late stage of capitalism typified by cuts, privatisations and “free market” reform - structural unemployment is used to keep wages down.

The Alister Barry documentary In A Land of Plenty explores how during neoliberal reform, the Reserve Bank used interest rates as a way of keeping unemployment high - and wages low. Suzanne Snivelly, member of the Reserve Bank Board of Directors during the crucial reform period of 1985-1992 states:
“It was a manageable thing for the Reserve Bank to use employment, and unemployment, as the way to get wages down. It was far easier than any other means of getting inflation down. So they used it.”

By demonising occupiers as unemployed layabouts, the DomPost conveniently misses the point: whether or employed or unemployed, we have valid grievances. Capitalists attack the class as a whole - declining real wages, structural unemployment and benefit cuts are all part of the same package. We must counter these attacks with solidarity, unity and inclusiveness. From factory floors, to desks, to WINZ offices - we are the 99%.


Occupied Dominion Post: editorial

October 26, 2011

Let’s get something straight: this movement has issued no demands. It is not a protest. It’s an occupation. Rebellions don’t have demands.

The above statement is from issue two of the Occupy Wall St Journal and in that spirit we are currently occupying the heart of our city. We’ve set up our tents and kitchens, we’ve put up our banners, and we are refusing to leave. As we reclaim the city we are reclaiming our own minds.

We are not just a handful of dreamers - we are realists. We are not stupid – we know something is very, very wrong with the world. We are not cowards – we are stepping up and putting ourselves forward to take part in this movement. We are not naïve – we know the problem is not a few greedy people ruining the system, the problem is a system based on greed that ruins people.

We are not alone. We are all over the world. In hundreds of cities on every continent, we are sharing tents, sharing food, sharing ideas and imagining a world where we share everything. We are trying to change it all from the bottom up. We are the 99%. Read the rest of this entry »

Australian Labor Party: “They’d send police to fight the unions that supported them”

October 25, 2011

Workers Party member Ian Anderson interviews socialist Stephen Jolly, on the Labor Party and recent union elections.

The Spark
Socialist Party recently committed to helping with the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) election, can you tell me why that was?

SJThe Victorian branch of the ETU is probably the most militant trade union in Australia. When Dean Miles the current state secretary took over in the 1990s, workers on building sites were almost embarrassed to admit they were electricians. Now they’re the highest paid, best organised, and work the shortest week of any construction workers in Victoria – in an industry that’s 100% unionised, so that’s quite something.

And secondly, he’s taken the union out of the clutches of the Labor Party. The leadership organised an internal referendum to ask the members if they wanted to stay affiliated and by overwhelming majority of over 80%, they said no, we want to be independent of the Labor Party. At election time the ETU give election funds sometimes to the Greens, sometimes to what they consider better Labor candidates, and also to the Socialist Party.

We think they should go one step further, and work to create a new workers’ party.

Read the rest of this entry »

Christchurch Labour Day March

October 22, 2011

The Occupy movement in Christchurch has organised a march for Labour day. The occupation has being going since October 15th, an an initial march attracted 300 people. A statement on the group’s website reads “This Monday is Labour Day. A day to celebrate the workers in Aotearoa, to remember the difficult year we have experienced, and to celebrate everything that the Occupy Movement has achieved on a local, national and international scale.”

MEET AT: Occupy Christchurch - South Hagley Park (next to bus exchange & hospital)

11am - Greetings and live music
12pm - march around the cordon
- There will be short speeches the Art Centre (builders from the CBD, Red Zone residents, University Lecturers, Students, Young Workers )
2.00 - 2.30pm - return to Occupy camp for refreshments (please bring what non-alcoholic refreshments you can), live music, performances
and a celebration of what we have achieved and look to our future.

Organisers have requested that the march not be used to promote any political party and stress that the event is drug and alcohol free.

Right to Strike in Australia

October 20, 2011

Workers Party member Ian Anderson interviews veteran Australian union activist Dave Kieran, on the recently launched Right To Strike Campaign.

The Spark: If you could start with a basic overview of the Right to Strike campaign, and how it started.

DK: The right to strike campaign began about a fortnight ago in its current form, where 6 unions attended a meeting to establish a national campaign, and to work practically towards resolutions in workplaces, up through unions and union executives, approach civil society and civil movements, faith-based communities etc seeking similar resolutions of support.

It’s based very much on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) framework, which indicates that the right to strike actually underpins the will of the people; that is, all of our other rights are protected by the right to strike. Certainly industrially, things like the right to organise, right of entry, are protected by the right to strike. Read the rest of this entry »

Occupy New Zealand

October 19, 2011

On October 15th New Zealand cities joined the global “Occupy” movement which as of this writing is taking place in 1500 cities in over 100 countries as a protest against wealth inequality. The December issue of The Spark will include further coverage of the movement; here we publish the statements issued by the occupations taking place in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.


[Occupy] Auckland is a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colours, genders and political persuasions. We are the 99% and we believe in people and the planet before profit. We will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.

We are also in solidarity with , and all of the Occupy movements around Aotearoa New Zealand and the world.

We will be occupying Aotea Square from the 15th of October and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximise the safety of all participants.

We recognise Aotea Square as Ngati Whatua land and that it is also a public space. Ngati Whatua have kindly consented to us ‘occupying’ this land.  Read the rest of this entry »

We Are The University (Auckland) demands

October 18, 2011

After occupying a university council meeting room on Monday the 17th of October, We are the University came to these conclusions in a democratic process:

1. Free education, Zero Frees (Unconditional).
2. Sack Stuart McCutcheon and Patrick Walsh as vice chancellors of the University of Auckland and Victoria University respectively. Restructure university in a public forum.
3. Remove trespass orders on Marcus Coverdale and Wikatana Popata.
4. Decisions on courses be based on scholarly and social benefits rather than financial.
5. Security guards be employed for the safety of students, not survailliance. Cops not to be called in response to (non-violent) student activism.
6. The University management be bound by the government facilitation with the Tertiary Education Union (TEU).
7. University actively lobby to revoke the VSM bill
8. Government unconditionally fund student unions, allowing them to be a critical voice and conscience of society, so that corporatisation such as advertising is not necessary on campus spaces.

- We are the University Auckland

More videos from occupied VUW

October 16, 2011

Solidarity to everyone currently occupying together. Be rational and protest.

Unnatural disaster

October 16, 2011

Ian Anderson, Workers Party member

The Rugby World Cup finally has a competitor for national coverage,  but it’s unlikely to inspire millions. On October the 5th, container vessel MV Rena ran aground off the coast of Tauranga; within a week, a 5-kilometre oil slick was killing wildlife. To say the least, this does not look good for the current government. In a mystifying sign of the times, capitalist rag the Dominion Post even ran the front-page head-line “People Power,” covering clean-up efforts by citizens in light of reportedly negligent bureaucracy. However for all their populism, the right-wing press doesn’t dare discuss the cause of the problem: a system that alienates the people from the land, for profit.

Like so many unnatural disasters, the spill lays class divisions bare. Rena is operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Company, which this year overtook Maersk as the largest global shipping line in terms of container capacity. In 2007 they were named shipping line of the year for the 6th time, due to their impressive capacity - this means fast, cheap, and plentiful commodities. To achieve this they must cut labour costs, and ignore ecological factors. Rena was a Flag of Convenience ship, meaning that it used a false national flag to dodge regulations, ignoring warnings from three inspectors before running aground. More than half the world’s commercial ships use flags of convenience.

Maritime New Zealand, funded in large part by transport conglomerates such as MSC, shows no interest in challenging the flag of convenience system. Like many so-called ‘regulators’ in bed with their industry, MNZ is far better at PR than implementing anything significant. Only the International Transport Federation and their comrades in the Maritime Union of New Zealand challenge the flag of convenience system, as they have done for decades.

By bringing a stark reminder of the risks of oil, this disaster also further underlines the class division that produced the Mana movement. Acting Minister for Energy and Resources Hekia Parata supports greater investment in non-renewables, including exploration for offshore oil-drilling. However communities particularly in the East Cape oppose exploration, while Mana opposes all further oil exploration and is sending a clean-up crew with the slogan “less hui more doey.”

Many are volunteering to help with the clean-up. Comrades wishing to help out should ensure they obtain access to PPE gear.

While solidarity efforts like this are crucial, they treat the symptom not the cause. Ultimately the coastline must be controlled by affected communities, and by the workers in its ports. Anything less is armed theft.


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