The Student: “Our dreams are no one’s property”

March 7, 2012

Report on the radical student movement in Chile. Reprinted from The Student Issue 4 by We Are The University (Wellington)

For close to a year now, the students of Chile have been in open revolt. Demanding free education from pre-school to tertiary level, students in Chile have organised the largest social movement the country has seen since the fall of the return to democracy two decades ago.

Mass demonstrations, nationwide general strikes, militant occupations and blockades of schools and universities, sit-ins, “kiss-ins”, mass flash-mob renditions of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’, and of course, water cannons, tear gas, running battles with carabinero militarized police; these are the hallmarks of the Chilean student movement. Its goals, though multifaceted, have been clear: greater student control over education, an end to cuts in the education sector and to private profiteering, free education for all. In the words of a popular slogan: “Fin al lucro en la educacion, nuestros sueños no les pertenecen.” Education is not for profit; our dreams are no one’s property. Read the rest of this entry »

Wellington event: 2011 Year of the Protester

March 5, 2012

2011 Year of the Protester
-Arab Spring
What next?

5pm Monday 12th March
SU19, Student Union Building, VUW

Spark interview: Sue Bradford on the unemployed workers’ movement

March 4, 2012

Over the weekend Auckland Action Against Poverty held a workshop to devise their next campaign. During the break Spark writer Ian Anderson sat down with Sue Bradford to discuss the history and future of the unemployed workers’ movement.

Spark: How will National’s recently announced welfare reforms affect beneficiaries?
SB: For youths of 16-17 years old it will mean the state, or private service providers, managing their income. My fear with this is that it will be extended to more beneficiaries, as the Welfare Working Group recommended.

For solo mothers it will mean work testing and harassment. In July they’ll be announcing reforms targeting people on the Sickness Benefit.

Spark: Why must all workers oppose these attacks?
SB: The worse it is for beneficiaries and the unemployed, the more competition for low paid jobs, the easier it is to drive down wages and conditions.

The capitalist system needs unemployment. Lately people have been very open about this, saying a certain amount of unemployment is good for economic growth. Read the rest of this entry »

Auckland wharfies remain staunch

March 2, 2012

The mood on the picket line at the Ports of Auckland remains staunch and upbeat after the first week of a four week strike. Several of other unions were flying their flags in solidarity, and a steady stream of toots in support flowed from the passing cars, trucks and trains.

A number of wharfies I met described their disappointment and anger at the lack of backing they have received from Labour-aligned Auckland mayor Len Brown. The dispute has inevitably taken on a political dimension, as plans to eventually privatise the port become more evident.

The workers pride themselves on the shipshape safety culture they have established over the years on the Auckland wharf. But management continually try to push the envelope: “Young workers are being pressurised to drive the straddle cranes round like stock cars.”

Over the last two days, the workers on the picket line witnessed two ships in port being unloaded by scab labour. Although the sight was a somewhat demoralising, the universal comment from the guys was: “just wait till that ship gets to Melbourne.” A great source of strength for the wharfies is knowing that the International Transport Workers’ Federation has got their back.

This week has seen hundreds of AFFCO meat workers locked out, and their remaining union workmates walking out in solidarity, as well as Oceania aged care workers taking strike action. Most workers instinctively recognise that the Wharfies are currently on the front line of the class struggle in Aotearoa. More power to them!


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