Thursday, March 20, 2014

Vanguard, not Mudguard- the Future of the Mana Movement.

I'm opposed to Mana joining any capitalist government. Now, does that sound likely in the near future? Well, some people in the left are starting to use the phrase "Labour-Greens-Mana Government" a little bit too loosely, before such a concept has been floated, never mind voted on, by the grassroots of the Movement. Mana has only been around for three years, yet we have helped push politics to the Left in Auckland. Whether fighting the evictions in Glen Innes, supporting young McDonald's workers on strike in Manurewa, stopping the motorway from destroying thousands of homes in Mangere or helping organise the Aotearoa is Not for Sale street movement against privatisation and asset sales, Mana's power lies in it being a street fighting force, an independent movement that gathers all those forces who want resistance and radical system change. The experience of the local elections in Auckland shows that where we tie electoral campaigning with people power, like we did in Mangere, we became a left wing alternative to the Labour party, gaining thousands of votes and coming a credible second. If the Greens liberally use the word "smart", then we should reclaim the adjective "socialist". Mana unapologetically puts forward solid socialist demands. Full employment and jobs for all, starting with a massive programme building quality, healthy State Housing. Free public transport in major cities to end gridlock and alleviate climate change. Free Education for All, from Playcentre to University, and abolish the naked intergenerational theft that is artifically created student debt. Free broadband on demand with no data caps, and defending the digital commons from the corporates and the spooks. Feeding all the children of the nation at school so that poverty statistics are no excuse for hunger. All to be funded by freeing up some of the $22 billion accrued by ACC, and of course, taxing the rich until they squeak. I think Mana is winning an argument on the Left. Why else would David Cunliffe invite my good comrade Matt McCarten to be his Chief of Staff? When Matt stood as a left wing independent in the Mana by election, down in Porirua, his arguments for a Living Wage and a $15 minimum wage were seen as too radical. A year later, it was Labour policy for the general election. His appointment by Cunliffe was surprising, but shows that people within Labour are eager to build a serious movement to defeat John Key, and fight for some tangible reforms that working people need. However, I believe we should maintain our independence and our Tino Rangatiratanga. Before I came to Aotearoa, I played an active role in building large social movements, in particular against capitalist globalisation and against war with Iraq. The radical left expanded in many countries during these years, and many socialists helped to create New Left Parties across Europe. Six socialist members of the Scottish Parliament were elected.  In Ireland, five socialist TDs were elected to the Dail. IN Germany, the radical left Die Linke party led the street resistance to both Christian and Social Democratic attacks on workers. But most impressive of all were the Italian comrades of Refondazione Comunista, who grew to a mass party of 300,000 cadre, who led the Battle of Genoa against the globalisation of the G8, hosted the 60,000 delegate strong conference of the European Social Forum, which organised a million strong march against war at its end, and agreed on the date of 15th Feb 2003 as the day to mobilise against the war. On that day, an estimated 40 million people marched across the cities of the World.

Refondazione Comunista attracted millions of votes, and saw scores of their MPs elected. Italian politics saw Berlusconi shake and quiver, and the argument for Refondazione to join an alternative Government was deafening. They did. And like the Alliance in New Zealand, they were ripped apart within the space of a year, not only by a huge sell out that saw them support sending troops to Afghanistan, but also by their attempts to demobilise the movement from below against neoliberalism and the system. Within the space of 18 months, they had destroyed the hard work of decades, and the Italian left still suffers from their destruction. A radical left wing party that is captured in a coalition with Social democracy signs its own suicide note. Social democratic parties profess reforms, but they are committed to managing the capitalist system, not replacing it. You cannot do both. Mana will be more effective as an independent, left wing force outside government, pushing Labour and the Greens leftward where successful, organising resistance against any cutbacks and attacks where necessary. It should not sacrifice this Tino for the sake of being a 2 or 3 MP strong mudguard. We should be in the vanguard instead.

-Joe Carolan,

Socialist Aotearoa and Mana (Owairaka)

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Opinion- Dave Phillips. the Socialist Wharfie.

We live and hope we never come across any individuals who make the life changing decision to become a scab. The scab grows up without the fibre to fight for the community or morals to stand for social justice .They are born with a total disregard for their fellow working man and woman.
How many good solid Union families have suffered at the hands of the scab when they slither alongside the bosses to smash picket lines and attempt to undo the work being done on behalf of the union membership and community? What for, some sycophantic self-gratification? There is no long term gain for them; they are a brainless tool in the box of the capitalist. 

The Scab has no boundaries; they will grovel, slither through shit and climb over every obstacle in their way to please their masters. The stigma they create for their scab families sticks forever like a contagious disease passed from one to the other, a burden carried by the innocent in their brood.
In the early and formative years of the trade union movement in New Zealand the Waterside Workers Union was always at the forefront in terms of industrial activism. The 1930’s through to the 1950’s it went up a notch culminating in the 151 day lockout of 1951.The union was defending the rights of the membership who even though they had been employed for 40 hours a week had to work in excess of 60 to earn a living wage now even 60 years later that sounds familiar. An overtime ban was called because union members felt they had suffered at the hands of bosses and ship owners for far too long.
The Tory Government of the day pulled out their snot covered horn, blew it and sent out the call for scab labour. From out of the sewers and cesspits they came, few in number but enough to give the Government of the time the ammo to take to the media and declare all is well on the waterfront we are servicing shipping at the ports. This was not the case, service delivery failure was rampant. We saw lines of blue clad thugs line the middle of Queen St to protect scabs signing up at the town hall and indeed in the streets bashing loyal members and defending the yellow filth on behalf of the government of the time.

Scabs were cattle herded into covered trucks in the mornings and driven on to the wharves through picket lines. This shows you the calibre of the filth, they didn’t even have the balls to show their faces yet the decision to shit on humanity came easily. Seemingly the way the scab operates doesn’t change with time as seen in one of our modern day disputes, the Napier dispute where the scabs where bussed in with heads covered or bowed out of sight of those on the picket lines defending their jobs. The power of organised union labour both locally and internationally prevailed and the scabs were driven off.

The lot of the solid wharfie was not made any easier by the sanitising and acceptance of scabs by the powers of the day starting with the Federation of Labour led by Finton Patrick Walsh, The labour Party lead by Walter Nash and of course the enemy of the working class Sid Holland of the Tory Party. By May 1951 with the endorsement of the above, the Scabs were running the new government implemented unions in all the main Ports in the country and making an absolute fist of it. The fact they had the audacity to use the proud name “Union” is disgusting in itself. This has taken many years to purge with a rebuilding of the relationship with the Labour Party and the now Council of trade unions, even though we tread slowly and carefully it is on-going. We can forgive but we won’t forget.

This is where the modern union movement fails miserably. Instead of promoting true activism in holding the line regarding the scab, unions today put up weak pickets and wave little banners. The scab should be stopped at the gate in their tracks. They should live everyday fearing a backlash and looking over their shoulders. The modern union needs to harden its approach to this treachery and dish out the contempt the scab deserves. The use of the term Scab is not derogatory, some diseases have names that we make no excuse for, and the scab deserves no less. To me the scab is the walking dead they do not exist.

60 years later and locked out again at the Auckland Port whilst scabs went through the pickets with a sense of impunity protected by the informational picket only laws which deny union members the right to protect their workplace. Union members were censured for calling them what they are. They even set up a union under the Labour Parties yellow union legislation went into negotiation, concluded in a matter of hours and sold of all the hard won conditions of our forebears.
The use of scabs is not confined to our shores, it is a worldwide epidemic fostered by global economic greed and the need of the few to grow their personal wealth. Globalisation along with the multi nationals have taken full advantage of their monetary positions to force into place legislation from the right-wing sector in many countries to enhance and legitimise the use of this filth, it happens worldwide. 

I can and never will be able to think, speak or give the reasoning of the scab it is morally beyond my comprehension but the words I use sum up the general perception of the scab. In the words of one of our unions poets “The stigma will remain passed from father to son, remember once tainted the damage is done” So in conclusion because the scab doesn’t deserve too long a recognition, to those that choose to ignore the scabs actions and seek to sit, confide and spend time with the scab you have the potential to be tainted with the stench he will take to his grave.

Monday, December 02, 2013


7pm Friday 6th December 2013
Unite Union, 6a Western Springs Road
organised by the Connolly Club of Auckland

A fearless, fiercely articulate Irish Republican firebrand, Bernadette Devlin became Britain’s youngest elected female MP at 21 in 1969. Her maiden speech was a stinging attack on the British in Ireland; and when Home Secretary Reginald Maudling claimed that the British army had fired in self-defence on Bloody Sunday she strode across the House of Commons and punched him. Veteran Irish producer Lelia Doolan, a significant mover and shaker herself, has worked for ten years to produce a rousing and thorough picture of this woman who was once recognisable throughout the Western world as the embodiment of politicised youth in revolt. She’s survived imprisonment, a near-miss assassination attempt and years of struggle within and on behalf of the Republican cause. She remains a committed activist and organiser. Doolan builds the film around her own interviews with an often wry, but enduringly passionate, Devlin. The wealth of archival footage should convince any newcomer to her remarkable story that she was once a riveting fixture on the nightly news and an unstoppable force for change.

Socialist Aotearoa's Joe Carolan talking about Bernadette, Free Derry the Civil Rights Movement and the Irish struggle on Bfm.

Weak, Feral, Scabs.

by Dave Phillips, Socialist Wharfie

The past three years have been one of the worst industrial climates created by greed that many of us will ever see. The expectation of massive returns and a pathological hate of the trade union movement and anyone that dares to join a real union has seen any potential relationship destroyed.
Until the removal of those in the halls of power at the port that embraced and developed the culture of hate we now see in our port, the road to recovery will not commence because the wounds cut too deep. Those that chose to cross-over will never be forgiven and will always be remembered for all time in history for what they truly are, the scab.

There is a saying “to err is human and to forgive is divine” -normally I do forgive, but when the choices that these people made in an attempt to destroy the community by their self-serving actions there will be no forgiveness from me and nor should there be by any trade unionist.

The basis of any working relationship is a simple concept. Trust, confidence and at the top respect. Our members at the port have had all of these trampled on, yet the port company management insists that they operate by their imposed core values and that is where it becomes a lost cause because they don’t live by them none of the above apply. Sadly they must get some sycophantic pleasure out of the belief that this style of management works.

Moral corruption and discrimination against real union members is rife with nepotism being granted to the bootlickers allowing a consistent stream of offspring of the scab to be put in holding patterns to commit the ultimate industrial crime if called upon.

The building of common ground in the workplace begins the moment someone is employed. Trust is the first bond that normally occurs with the employee knowing they can believe in what is being delivered normally the terms and conditions. All the employee wants to know is that the contract entered into is going to be honoured. Confidence is the next step with the expectation that concerns are taken seriously and not undermined by management thugs. All the employee asks for is personal value. Respect is always the last because it has to be earned and not expected because of one’s station in life.

It’s been over 100 years since the 1913 Great Strike and 63 years since the 1951 lockout yet the expectation of the capitalist remains exactly the same, profit at the expense of conscience and greed before humanity. When will they learn that in this modern era working-class and the trade union movement are not going to sit idly by and allow the intimidation tactics to have the impact it would have earlier in the last century. The scab is a weak feral that has no intestinal fortitude and that is why it fits within the framework of anti-union anti-worker work-sites, they are content to have the relationship of a lap dog with their owners without any real value.

We the union are a stubborn lot and demand the best from our employer. We will have a voice, we will not always be satisfied but you will get the expertise you pay for and the productivity if you are honourable. We will never forgive your scabs because it is against every moral we stand for, so don’t have any expectation of that. Maybe one day we might forgive you but believe us when we say we will never forget, you will never have our respect.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Working Class Heroes of the 1913 Great Strike

Socialist Historian and Playwright Dean Parker tells Unite Union's  2013 National Conference  about some of the working class men, women and childen who lived through the revolutionary moment of 1913 in New Zealand, one hundred years to the day after they clashed with the might of the State on the streets.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Raising the Retirement Age?

There are now more people retiring than ever and less people working, so there are not enough people to pay taxes to cover the cost of the retirement pension. We are all living longer say the politicians... Yeah right... Who's living longer? The politicians? The capitalists? The lawyers? The lazy bastards who sit on their arses and do nothing are living longer; the people who have the money to pay for expensive surgery or drugs to keep them alive; those who are educated about healthy eating and lifestyle; those who have the time to swan about in saunas and gyms and health spas may be living longer.

If you look at life expectancy for various groups, in particular manual workers, Pacific Island workers, Maori workers, you will find that even though these people pay most of the taxes in this country, they seldom live long enough to collect the pension. Meanwhile their peers in the middle to upper class, mainly salaried professionals, or the real bludgers – politicians and wealthy people who live off their capital – do little or no productive work and pay little or no tax and are the ones who live longer and end up in expensive nursing homes going on into their nineties, half of them gaga but still claiming the pension and bludging off the state health system that they did nothing to contribute to in the first place. The staff looking after them are paid a wage they can't even live on.

When John Key got into power the first thing he did was to give huge tax cuts to the rich, and so now it's a bit rich saying that we can't afford for workers to retire. In 1984 the top tax rate was 66 cents in the dollar; now it is 33 and we cant afford for workers to retire. They quote the statistics comparing people working to those retired and say we can't afford for workers to retire.

We have 7% unempoyment – throw that into the mix and the statistics don't look so convincing, then think about the people who are under-employed and see how that effects the statistics; then there are all those who work hard in the most important jobs such as being mothers or working for charities and think how it would be if they were being paid, paying taxes and featuring in the statistics, and see how that affects them. Then there are all those who are criminalised by our increasingly punitive society and who have to be housed in prisons at the expense of the taxpayer instead of being productive workers and taxpayers themselves. And the list goes on.

If you look at it on an international scale, you will see that hundreds of millions of people are unemployed and denied the right to participate in society. They would jump at the chance to work and pay taxes. I could go on all night ABOUT THE WAY THIS NEOLIBERAL CAPITALIST system is flawed and corrupt from top to bottom, but at the end of the day what it is really about is exploiting the workers all their lives and then ringing the last drop of blood out of them before they are thrown on the scrap heap.

Forcing people to work longer means there are fewer jobs for school leavers and university graduates. It means there is more competition among workers, which forces wages down. Labour announced at the last election its policy to raise the retirement age to 67 over a gradual period. The National government has reintroduced a lower youth wage, which actually squeezes out older workers and does nothing to help the young ones. Now estimates are being quoted that by the year 2050, 25% of New Zealanders will be over 65 (compared with 13.6% estimated in 2012). That difference could be made up by the numbers currently unemployed, under-employed and doing unpaid work. The rest could be covered by reinstating a more progressive tax system. The Labour Party should be representing workers, not the employers who benefit from worker competition.

Under the guise of 'responsible government', the Labour Party, who were responsible for the tax cuts in the 1980s, are trying to pander to the notion that there's not enough money to go around and therefore everyone must sacrifice equally. This is nonsense: there is enough money to go around if we stop giving the highest earners a free ride; everyone does not bear the burden equally (many of the lowest paid workers don't live to see retirement age); and there is nothing responsible about it. Productivity has increased a hundred fold over the last century, which should translate into more leisure time for workers and universal access to essential services. The real picture is upside-down.

As a manual worker myself, I am nearly 60 – the age at which people retired when I entered the workforce. Basically my body is worn out, my shoulders are fucked, my knees are fucked, my brain and nervous system are malfunctioning due to exposure to solvents in the workplace, and the government is saying I have to keep working, and if I cant do the work I am trained for and experienced in, I am expected to do some other unskilled job that wont even pay a living wage.

We need to fight Labour and National's attempts to screw down workers, young and old.

-Doug R., SA 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Century of Resistance- Auckland Wharfie speaks

 “Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction”.  Eric Fromm.

Modern society is plagued with workplace pressures unseen for many a year. The craving of wealth by the few at the expense of many comes at a huge cost to the average family. Capitalist greed and the inbred need to have a class system is out of control but consistently gets fed by legislation with laws that introduce work climates unseen since the early nineteen hundreds.

 The average worker in this country should be paid a living wage but instead is working in excess of 60 hours a week simply to make ends meet because they are on minimum wage with no additional payments for extra effort. The ability to run a household on such an income is next to impossible because the cost of living out strips the money coming in. Wouldn’t it be an eye-opener to put our politicians on minimum wage just to see how quickly things would change?

 Rights at work are being eroded by a government and a Labour spokesman who has no conscience and no real understanding of what it takes to survive in the real world. Bridges “The Tauranga Pup” is fixated on two words, flexibility and fairness and basically doesn’t give a toss or more likely doesn’t comprehend the impact or consequence of the law changes he is promoting and will push through. The attitude towards workers in this country by the National Government is summed up by Tau Henare’s statement on television when asked about the plight of the government cleaners. “If she doesn’t want the job, she should give it to someone else”.

 The 8 hour day, the 40 hour working week, the weekend, annual leave, worker’s rights and safety in most quarters of the capitalist ideology are a thing of the past and irrelevant because they assume it stagnates the ability to accumulate wealth. These are union won conditions for all society to enjoy and should be protected at all costs. Too often we see large companies pushing the barrow of wealth; they call it productivity.

 Increasingly at negotiations employers put forward claims for unfair hours of work so they have the right to impose and determine when employees work, none of which are recognised or rewarded with appropriate payments. Work-life balance in their mind is a myth and should be purely the domain of those that can afford it.

In New Zealand, apathy and the “she’ll be right mate” mentality is responsible for the position we find ourselves in. Kiwi would rather watch a bloody boat sail around in a foreign country manned by rich pricks than stand up and fight for fairness and decency. We hear every day the stories of poverty, starving children and people struggling to put a roof over the heads of their families. You would think in a modern western styled society none of the above would exist, sadly it is growing and until working-class stand-up make a stand and bring capitalism to heel there will be no balance in our society.

The union movement is changing to gain the required skillset to take on global corporates and right-wing governments at their own game when it comes to the preservation of workers’ rights. When your union calls on you to become part of any struggle that protects the working-class, take the time to look in the mirror and ask yourself am I doing my bit?

 Don’t let the apathy I alluded to earlier be the driving factor you didn’t get involved. It is too easy to allow others to fight and win the gains. Don’t ride off the back of struggle enjoying the benefits you don’t deserve, be a part of the outcome.

This is where the presence of well-resourced militant unions comes into play. Organising, education and promoting activism to protect what belongs to us is a key to any future balance. Capitalism has a firm hold in modern society and is changing the world to suit the need to feed the greed.

This year celebrates the 100th year since the Great Strike of 1913 where 16000 workers took to the streets of New Zealand to fight for fairness and dignity. These weren’t workers backed by well-resourced unions but miners, water-siders and seafarers led by a small group termed agitators who were eventually defeated after almost bringing New Zealand to the brink of civil war.

Attacked by Police and the volunteer Massey’s Cossacks on horse-back, they fought heated battles on the streets. They faced machine gun postings and naval war ships. These were working men with a just cause but lacked leadership hence the uprising failed. Even in 1913 the capitalist knew he had a means to undermine workers for a few silver dollars, it’s the tools they continue to use today, the scab and propaganda. Even though it was lost we need to take a leaf out of the book of our forebears and fight for our rights even if it be by means of hard protest.

Contemplate the lot of the individual who attempts to go one on one with his or her employer. Worksites that don’t have union coverage are at the will of the employer. Fire at will with no rules of fairness and very limited work-place rights. Union presence is vital and a reliable defence in opposing government and capitalism . Globally unions are setting standards for all society and will always remain fundamentally opposed to the oppressive ideology of the greedy corporates.

by Dave Phillips, socialist and MUNZ Activist