Free the Tamil asylum seekers

January 18, 2010

People protested outside the Australian consulate in Auckland, on 18 January, as part of an international day of action to support the Tamil Asylum Seekers who have spent 100 days on a boat in Indonesia in appalling conditions.

A protest organiser  spoke of how 254 Tamil Asylum Seekers refused to leave the boat for fear of being locked up in an Indonesian detention centre or being deported back to Sri Lanka.

Returning to Sri Lanka is not an option, as one man who had returned to see his ill mother had been thrown in prison, without charges being laid, and is still locked up.

“The refugees are rightly demanding that they be given basic human rights and that Australia, as a signatory of the UN Refugee Convention, adhere to its international responsibilities” Priyaksha said. Read the rest of this entry »


Internationalist response to FTA needed

April 30, 2008

- John Edmundson

The New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed on April 7 is the first free trade agreement China has made with any developed Western country. It is an historic deal for the Chinese government in its push to be fully accepted into the capitalist club.

The deal is historic for New Zealand too, for the simple reason that China’s economy is by far the largest that New Zealand has ever signed such an agreement with. With a growing middle class already numbering over 100 million, China offers a huge market for New Zealand businesses, particularly for luxury goods and services.

Reaction to the FTA has been mixed. Opponents of the agreement have ranged from the Green Party on the left, to New Zealand First on the xenophobic right. The CTU, eager to cosy up to Labour in the lead-up to an election that Labour is uncertain of winning, has come out in support of the agreement.

The critics of the FTA have claimed that the agreement in some way condones the poor human rights record of the Chinese government. This objection has become more strident with the recent Chinese crackdown on Tibetan protests.

The New Zealand government and the FTA’s supporters have countered with the point that New Zealand trades with all sorts of countries with all sorts of human rights records. In fact, government-led boycotts of countries over “human rights abuses” have a dubious record, with the independence of small, weak countries often being threatened by countries in the imperialist world on spurious grounds.

Read the rest of this entry »


Recent job losses latest in a trend

April 18, 2008

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.

Read the rest of this entry »


Should socialists opppose free trade? A response to an Alliance activist

April 9, 2008

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:

Read the rest of this entry »


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