Workers Party Not Hand Shakers

October 24, 2008

Workers Party media release

Workers Party Christchurch Central candidate Byron Clark is surprised at some of the reactions he’s got since refusing to shake hands with Labour candidate Brendon Burns at a recent candidates forum.

“There is an idea among some candidates it seems, that the election campaign is just a job interview style process with the electorate where we all wish each other well and hope we get picked, but I’m fundamentally opposed to the system Labour and National support, and I think principles are more important than what some see as ‘good manners’”

Clark noted the recent OECD report which shows inequality has increased drastically in the past twenty years.

“For most of that 20 years Labour has been in power, they have presided over the biggest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in this country’s history. I have no respect for a party that can do that.”


Labour - not so worker friendly

October 15, 2008

Many people recognise that National is no friend of the workers, but should workers and unionists be called on to vote for Labour? They have been in government for the past 9 years but are workers better off as a result? Check the record:

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Not much done, lots more to do

October 14, 2008

- John Edmundson

As election day nears, you’d think it would be time for union leaders to raise workers’ needs in front of the politicians. The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) has released its spin on the latest statistics summarising the socioeconomic state of New Zealand in the last decade.

The CTU’s assessment of the Ministry of Social Development’s 2008 Social Report, headed “Social Report: Lots done, more to do”, could best be described as a pro-Labour spin on some pretty mixed statistics for the last decade, a period dominated by the Clark Labour government.

“The social wellbeing of New Zealanders has improved since the 1990s with most social indicators moving in the right direction,” enthused CTU vice president Maori Sharon Clair. “Clearly there is more to be done. Low wages are still holding back the country, and 13% of households in poverty is 13% too many. In many indicators the trends are good, however,” Clair said.

Of course, she is right, in a “lies, damned lies and statistics” sort of way. But what does “most” social indicators actually mean? A look at the actual report reveals a much less praiseworthy result than the CTU spin would suggest. I encourage anyone interested to go to http://www.socialreport.msd.govt.nz and make their own assessment of it.

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Secret donations: the real concern

September 2, 2008

Winston Peters, leader of the xenophobic New Zealand First party - and, ironically, the Foreign Minister as well - has been caught accepting secret donations from various rich businessmen, in particular Owen Glenn, a New Zealand millionaire based in the tax haven microstate, Monaco.

Peters has been slithering around the issue, first denying it, then saying he “only just found out about it”, then claiming there is a “big difference” between NZ First getting secret donations and other parties getting secret donations.

In typical capitalist parliamentarian fashion, both Helen Clark and John Key have pulled their punches when it comes to denouncing Winston Peters, in the hope they’ll get his support in the next coalition government.

It is interesting to note that at the same time as they were backing the anti-democratic Electoral Finance Act, which stipulates that all donations and campaigning costs must be accounted for, they were accepting secret donations themselves!

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EPMU leaders’ strange behaviour

September 1, 2008

- Don Franks

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Labour’s Goods and Services tax, Listener columnist David W Young wrote:

” The reason GST is much-loved by right-of-centre policy wonks in New Zealand and marvelled at by their colleagues overseas, is that it’s “pure”. (Finally, a tax that right-wingers like!) GST wasn’t adulterated to make it palatable to the masses. Calls to exempt food, education and health were rejected by Douglas and Brash’s committee. The few exceptions are rents on residential rental properties, donations and financial services.”

Young noted:

“The biggest concern about GST was that it would disproportionately harm the poor. That argument, made strenuously by unions and mainstream politicians in the 1980s, has shifted over time to the fringes of debate. It’s based on the fact that GST is effectively a regressive tax, because poorer people spend a greater proportion of their income than the rich, who put more into savings.”

(“Happy Returns”, Listener Dec 1 2006)

Today, argument about GST is continuing inside the trade union movement, but with some union leaders opposed to the wishes of their rank and file.

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ACTs of hypocrisy

September 1, 2008

- John Edmundson

So the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union has suspended one of its workers because he is standing for parliament on the Act ticket. Shawn Tan, a former Green Party member who became a convert to Act, has been suspended (on full pay) because there is a clause in his contract which prevents his running for parliament without the permission of the EPMU national executive.

The Workers Party has a very clear view about this case and others like it. Regardless of the reactionary trajectory of Shawn Tan’s politics, we believe it is essential that any worker has the right to express his or her political views and to run as a candidate for political office without the interference of an employer. To take any other viewpoint would be to concede additional power to the capitalists over their workers, not only within the workplace but also in their employees’ lives beyond the workplace.

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Casualisation: real jobs and con jobs

August 7, 2008

- Don Franks

For those of us in the working class, few things are more important than having a real job. A real job produces stable predictable earnings. It pays enough for us to support ourselves and our dependants, with a bit left over for some luxuries, savings and fun. A real job is also a big part of our social life. For many people their workplace is a sort of secondary family; in some cases the community of an individual’s job provides their main social connections. In every case a proper job gives us a feeling of social worth, a feeling that we belong, and that we count for something because others count on us.

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Immigration and citizenship: Labour versus workers

July 14, 2008

The article below originally appeared in revolution magazine, #21, August-October 2003:

Samoan protests for the return of their NZ citizenship point up the need for a campaign for open borders and workers’ solidarity as against Labour’s denial of Samoan (and other migrants’) rights, argues Philip Ferguson.

In late March, thousands of Samoans protested in Wellington, Christchurch and in Samoa itself, calling for the repeal of the NZ Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act of 1982.  This legislation, introduced by Muldoon’s National Party government, had stripped 100,000 Samoans of NZ citizenship rights.  The abolition of these citizenship rights was part of a miserable 70-year record of NZ dealings with the Samoan people.

NZ had invaded Samoa in 1914 and was the colonial power there for the next five decades.  Just after WW1, the NZ administration bore responsibility for an influenza epidemic that wiped out a quarter of the population.  The NZ government then viciously suppressed the mass movement for Samoan independence, including gunning down unarmed independence protesters in 1929.

After independence, NZ continued to act as lord and master of Samoa and other former NZ-ruled countries in the Pacific.  For instance, in the 1970s NZ governments masqueraded as generous aid donors to the Pacific.  Yet, at that very same time, for every dollar of aid the Pacific countries of the Commonwealth received from New Zealand, they lost $3.74 in trade with this country.  Most of the NZ aid was actually spent on NZ commodities, services and personnel.  Moreover, it had little impact on expanding Pacific island exports to NZ.  The 1970s also saw mass raids on Pacific Island ‘overstayers’ in NZ and large-scale deportations.

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Immigration Amendment Bill: limiting workers’ freedom

July 10, 2008

- John Edmundson

In the years following the September 11 2001 attacks, the world has seen a massive tightening of immigration controls. In this country, many New Zealanders’ first experience of this trend was the overnight quadrupling of the cost of maintaining a passport. In one fell swoop, the life of a passport was halved, from ten years to five, while the cost doubled as new “anti-terrorism” identification security features were added. In the US, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has gained, and proceeded to use, sweeping new powers to raid and subsequently deport “illegals”, mostly from Latin America.

The latest round of policy change comes with the Immigration Amendment Bill currently being debated in select committee. While this Bill was introduced by Labour, it appears to have support from National, ACT, New Zealand First and United Future. The Bill, if passed in anything remotely approaching its current form, will represent a massive attack on basic civil rights in New Zealand, not only for would-be immigrants or refugees but also for New Zealand citizens.

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WP leaflet on increased road user charges

July 4, 2008

Below is the text of a leaflet distributed by members of the Workers Party Auckland branch at the protest earlier today by truck drivers against the recently announced increase in road user charges.

Independence from the bosses - A workers’ response required in the campaign against rising cost of living

The boss class is to blame for the recent barrage of rising costs that is hitting working people in New Zealand and internationally. The following leaflet puts forward the Workers Party’s basic position on the increase to road user chargers.

Major companies are required to pay within the market system Should the major companies pay for the costs of maintaining the roads? We think that under a market system the major companies should be forced to pay but this should not be at the expense of their employees’ wages and conditions which such companies have been driving down for decades. If they were not called to pay, then the public would be bearing costs incurred while the companies make profits. However, it should also be understood that, within a market system, the employers’ profits come from the work that their employees do for them. Therefore, even if the companies lose profits, the main issue is that workers are able to increase real incomes.

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