Thursday, July 03, 2008

FUTURE OF THE WORKERS CHARTER NEWSPAPER – SAT 12 NOON TO 2PM

FUTURE OF THE WORKERS CHARTER NEWSPAPER – SAT 12 NOON TO 2PM

Kia ora koutou,

The meeting to discuss the future of the Workers Charter
newspaper was postponed from last Saturday due to support for industrial action
taken by Unite Union members at the airport. The meeting is now being held at:
Unite Union, 6A Western Springs Road, Morningside, Saturday 5th July 12noon to
2pm. Bring something to share for lunch – tea/coffee provided. Everyone
interested in discussing the paper and its future is welcome to attend.

CURRENT SITUATION
The paper has approx 250 subscribers and along with donations and a special
appeal this has been enough to keep the paper coming out regularly. We borrowed
in the first year but by now we are close to paying back all debts. We should be
able to finish this year financially square. The paper is also looking a lot
better with Brian Van Dam having taken over the layout and finances. Brian has
found a much cheaper printer and the paper has expanded to 20 pages. Unite Union
no longer prints Unite News as a wraparound to the Workers Charter. In part at
least this is because of the proposed union merger of Unite, NDU and SFWU
planned for early next year which will involve a new union paper being launched.
This is one reason the paper is not “mass distributed” as it previously
was. It has in fact become a boutique paper being distributed in relatively
small numbers to a general left audience – mainly around the liberal middle
class. This is not a problem in itself as it was always envisaged that those
able to subscribe easily would do so and this would enable us to print a lot
more for “free-of-charge” wider distribution. However that wider
distribution is not happening at present.

PURPOSE OF THE PAPER
The paper was established through meetings involving a number of people from
the “independent left” alongside activists from Unite Union and the
Socialist Workers Organisation. The purpose was to develop a broad-left
newspaper which would bring workers struggles and working class politics to a
wide audience. It would develop into a forum for workers to talk to workers. It
would also be agitational – advocating policy and action in key areas of
struggle. The strongest supporters at the launch of the paper are still
supportive but have developed other priorities – Unite Union is focused on the
new union merger and SWO is focused on the RAM election campaign.

WHAT WE NEED TO DECIDE
The paper has a small (though very loyal) following. However I don’t believe
it deserves to survive if it remains a boutique paper on the left without a
plan, with wide support, to develop into a mass campaigning newspaper which can
be embraced by the wider left. The meeting on 28th June needs to make the key
decisions:

1. Should the paper close as it hasn’t met its objectives?

2. Is there much wider support for the paper to develop into a broader-left
newspaper as originally envisaged?

3. What groups/individuals are prepared to support the paper in this objective
and in what ways?

4. Who is prepared to be on the editorial committee to help achieve this
objective?

5. What additional writers are prepared to contribute?

6. How will we expand distribution of the paper?

The key question is the second question and this will be the focus of the
meeting on 7 July. Please come along and pass the invitation to other who may be
interested. We’d love to see you there.

In solidarity, John Minto, For the editorial group

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