New Workers Party leaflet available for download here.
- Workers Party Press Release
As the recession bites, workers are again carrying the heaviest burden.
The layoffs just announced at Silver Fern Farms’ Belfast plant are another sign that the current parties have nothing left to offer workers. The Workers Party thinks jobs for all should come before profits for private companies and supports action by workers to keep their jobs, including occupations of workplaces threatened with closure.
As a first step, the Workers Party of New Zealand will abolish GST because it is a regressive tax that hits workers particularly hard.
We are launching our Christchurch Electoral campaign at 7pm on Monday July 28th. The campaign launch will be held in the WEA at 59 Gloucester St.
The Workers Party is standing two candidates in Christchurch electorates: secondary school teacher and former meat worker Paul Hopkinson in Christchurch East and retail worker and student Byron Clark in Christchurch Central. We also have candidates standing in Auckland and Wellington.
- Tim Bowron and Don Franks
On April 17 manufacturer Fisher & Paykel announced that it would be closing its Mosgiel plant near Dunedin and shifting production to Mexico, Thailand and Italy with the loss of some 430 jobs. Hard on the heels of this announcement came the news that Dunedin textile firm Tamahine Knitwear which employs about 50 workers would also be closing its doors, while in the banking sector ANZ National Bank is to move approximately 500 clerical and IT jobs to India.
National and local body politicians wept crocodile tears over the news; Finance Minister Michael Cullen lamenting that “manufacturing jobs of this sort have been moving, sadly, to third world countries around the world for any number of years” while Dunedin mayor Peter Chin said he was “shocked” and “hugely disappointed.”
The announcement of over 1000 job losses yesterday is certainly bad news for New Zealand workers, yet while various commentators have blamed the latest round of redundancies on the high dollar or the free trade agreement with China, this disappearance of jobs is nothing new, in 2007 job losses made the news almost every other week. The following article from the December 2007 issue of The Spark looks at last years job losses and the need for international solidarity to defend jobs:
2007 a tough year for New Zealand Workers
- Byron Clark
2007 was a tough year for workers in New Zealand. In February the Brightwood milling plant closed leaving workers “high and dry” as the company’s aggressive anti-union stance left them with no redundancy cover. Later that month a Christchurch ice cream factory announced its closure. This seemed to be the start of a disturbing trend, as 2007 also saw Sleepyhead and Fisher & Paykel laying off 350 staff each, as well as redundancies at Click Clack, G.L Bowron, Skellerup, 3M and others. While manufacturing was the hardest hit, jobs seemed to be disappearing all over the place, Sealord announced plans to cut staff in September and more recently 60 jobs were lost at at freezing works owned by meat company PPCS. SkyCity announced 250 job cuts as a ‘cost cutting’ measure in May, and Telecommunications company TelstraClear announced 100 job cuts in July, with rival Telecom announcing 250 job cuts eight days later.
With the signing of the recent FTA with China, the debate over the issue of free trade has been reignited among workers and left-wing political activists in New Zealand.
Many left union officials and members of political parties such as the Alliance have argued that immigration controls and tariffs must be retained to protect NZ jobs and businesses from being undercut by foreign competition.
By contrast the Workers Party strongly believes that this kind of economic protectionism is a poison which only serves to divide the international working class and encourages illusions in the “progressive” nature of local capitalists. We argue that the solution to NZ companies closing down production and laying off workers is not protectionism, but instead a militant union-led campaign to occupy all those businesses threatened with closure and keep them running under workers’ control.
Below we reprint an interview from 2004, in which Workers Party and Spark editorial board member Don Franks responds to a series of questions from an Alliance Party activist on the question of free trade and the approach that the left should take towards it: