Join the Revolution

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Racist ads- Boycott Hell's Pizza- join the Blockade on Friday night.


The Hell's Pizza outlet on Auckland's Quay Street faces a furious blockade and picket this Friday evening, as the anti racist group Socialist Aotearoa launches a boycott campaign in response to the chain's racist advertising, when they claimed that "at least our brownie won't eat your pet dog".

Socialist Aotearoa protest organiser Tania Lim says-

Speaking as a person of colour, I believe that such advertisements legitimises the negative stereotypes of people of colour, be we brown, yellow, or black. I'm protesting because I am opposed to companies like Hell's Pizza exploiting racism for the purposes of profit. Our message to Hell Pizza management and their smart arsed middle class "ironically racist" advertising idiots is this-

Insult Pacific peoples of Aotearoa at your peril. Expect flashmob protests at your outlets. Prepare to lose a lot of customers who don't agree with your racist insults, "ironic" or otherwise.

And don't tell us to "lighten up". You've already insulted our skin colour once.

Contact Tania at: 0220227672

Racist Humour is Ironic?
GO TO HELL!

Join the Blockade of Hell's Pizza

530pm Friday 28th August
2
/8 Quay Street, Auckland

Join the Facebook event HERE

Socialist Aotearoa – A new force on the left



Socialist Aotearoa – A new force on the left
Pre Conference Discussion Document no 3

by Socialist Aotearoa member Omar Hamed

Any new organisation of mostly Auckland anti-capitalists facing a catastrophic economic crisis and a Tory government exploiting it to attack working people, the ongoing collapse of the biosphere and the ongoing centralisation of ruling class power and wealth locally and internationally is in a good position to lead a fight back of New Zealanders against the ruling class. However small radical groups of activists like Socialist Aotearoa remain fairly modest sized organisations and its ability to punch above its weight and spark a generalised offensive to meet the capitalists blow for blow on issues like greenhouse gas emissions targets, neo-liberalism in education, downsizing public services, corporatizing Auckland democracy, poverty wages & unemployment, rests on its ability to leverage the main organisations of the New Zealand left- the unions, the student associations, the peace and human rights groups and the environmental movement. I believe more work should be done on planning and coordinating the lefts resistance to the Supercity and also on decolonisation however the areas of work I think should be prioritised by socialists are union campaigns, education struggles, resisting NZ involvement & collaboration in the oppression of people and worker overseas & in building community resistance to the carbon-capitalists.


Union movement & workplace organising

CTU needs urgent reform. The organisation, its goals and its methods are seriously fucked. Workers should be calling for a fighting CTU that starts to tackle the National-government head on poverty wages & precarious work, rising cost of living and the economic crisis/unemployment. Socialist Aotearoa should call for a meeting of worker militants to discuss the problems with the CTU and endorse draft programme of action we want the CTU to take up. This might call for community days of action and huge rallies like the ACTU engaged in against the Howard government in Australia. The union movement currently has no good leadership from the CTU or the largest unions which are stuck in a model of defensive workplace battles over redundancies and cost-of-living negotiations. What is needed is an offensive programme that will engage all union members in New Zealand around issues that affect all workers. All union members in New Zealand are paying for the CTU but how much good are we really getting out of it? Not much I would say. Lots of officials going on overseas jaunts and not a lot to show for it. Parallel to this we need active and engaging cross-sector, cross-union, pan-left campaign action groups formed across the country on the major issues. These groups should link active delegates, members and officials to take a lead on building the campaigns on a day-to-day basis on worksites and in communities. They could essentially become an alternative to the farcical CTU local affiliates meetings which has become a piss-up for union officials.



Concrete things to do:

1. Public meeting on the failure of the CTU and a chance for people to suggest an alternative and fighting strategy.
2. Set up a workers campaign action group in Auckland focused around the Unite petition for $15 an hour and direct action solidarity and agitating against rises in the cost of livings.
3. Call for a day of action against poverty wages and for freezes on day-to-day living costs in October.


Education fightback

The neo-liberal education reforms currently being imposed by the National government include, cutbacks to public school funding, to tertiary funding, the ransacking of night classes. SA can play a role on campuses through building an active and radical class reps movement and calling for a re-organisation of the student unions focusing on class reps alongside a mobilisation for a fee freeze, universal student allowance, open entry to universities and free public transport. This fightback should be in parallel with TEU and service worker campaigns on campus to maximise the power and potential of student occupations and worker strikes.


Concrete things to do:

1. Call for NZUSA to hold a national day of action in November against fee rises.
2. Organise a meeting on campus about neo-liberalism and education. Use it as a launching pad for a demonstration on fees.
3. Support the campaign for night classes.


Global solidarity

The continuing resource wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the ongoing occupations of indigenous territories such as in Palestine and West Papua, the repression of popular democratic movements on every continent- Honduras, Iran, Burma are all dependent upon the support & collaboration of Western governments and corporations and the silence and ignorance of their citizens and workers. Not only is global peoples’ solidarity a value to be admired but a precursor to the victory of insurgent oppressed peoples in the poor world. New Zealand is currently facilitating the construction of a free trade area of the Pacific via an agreement known as PACER that will wreck the economic sovereignty of small Island states in favour for ANZAC capitalists. The New Zealand Government also plays a small but important role in the occupation of Afghanistan, diplomatic support for Israeli atrocities, legitimacy of South-East Asian butchers installed in Indonesia, Burma and the Philippines. Trans-national corporations involved in the pillaging of the poor world and indigenous territories, the arming of the imperial armies are often also selling their tainted products or building their weapons of mass destruction in Aotearoa. Our responsibility as socialists is much the same as the British dockworkers who early in the twentieth century raised funds for the Indian independence movement. It is to join in the struggle of the oppressed peoples of the world as it is also our struggle. Supporting the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel should be a top priority. As should ending Kwila imports and sales in solidarity with West Papuan tribes people resisting bio-colonialism, land enclosures and deforestation. The Burmese struggle should be supported through a call for our Government’s Superannuation Fund to divest from the French oil corporation Total Oil, busy supporting the Junta in Burma.

Concrete things to do:

1. Hold a public meeting on the increasingly successful global BDS movement in solidarity with Palestinian civil society resistance and call for a demonstration for the NZ Superfund to divest from $10 million invested in Israeli corporations including banks which provide mortgage loans for the construction of housing in West Bank settlements, and have several branches in the occupied territory and cement companies involved in the Apartheid wall.
2. Support the campaign against Kwila and Palm oil imports and sales.


Environmental movement

The climate change movement is gathering steam but the organisations involved are hopelessly mired in a style of campaigning that has little chance of success or drawing in sufficient numbers of working people to become truly powerful. Climate Camp Aotearoa, is the main radical group organising a December camp in Wellington of workshops and “direct action”. Greenpeace on the other hand is co-ordinating the Sign-On campaign and has enlisted celebrities to drum up an online petition of support calling for a 40% emissions cut by 2020. These are equally disempowering, activism and especially climate change activism should not be boiled down to a name on an online petition or attendance at a weekend protest on the other side of the country. Socialist Aotearoa should be pushing for and supporting local community resistance to climate change in Aotearoa. What does this mean in practice? It means empowering local activists to engage with their communities on emissions reductions and resisting the carbon-capitalists. The three major emitters of climate change inducing gases in Aoteaora are the carbon-capitalists in the agriculture sector, the transport sector and the energy sector. We should be supporting community resistance and alternatives to carbon-capitalists in these sectors as promoting community campaigning for better public transport, for community horticulture and control of food production and for energy sector regulation including the goal of 100% renewable energy, home insulation, regulation of household and corporate energy use.

Concrete things to do:

1. Support the anti-SH20 extension group and campaigns for better and free public transport in Auckland.
2. Support community gardening initiatives around the city.
3. Organise an Auckland climate action at the site of the SH20 as part of the Copenhagen demonstrations.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Socialist Aotearoa: A libertarian future?



Socialist Aotearoa: A libertarian future?

Pre Conference Discussion Document no2.

By Derwin Smith

Background:

Since me and a few others come from a different revolutionary socialist tradition (libertarian socialism) from many of the members of socialist Aotearoa I thought I’d write up a discussion document for our upcoming conference to lay out what I’d like to see in terms of building a revolutionary socialist movement.

Topics:

Socialist Aotearoa:

– What should our role be in building a revolutionary socialist movement.

Group organisation and structure:

– How should we organise Socialist Aotearoa.

Building a mass based movement:

  • How we can build a revolutionary trade union movement here in Aotearoa.

  • Participation in community struggle.

  • Participation in student struggle.

  • Building a revolutionary counter culture.

My Politics

This discussion document is going to start out by outlining the where I’m coming from in terms of political analysis. While classical Marxists view the ‘ruling class’ in terms of their relationship with the means of production i.e. employers and workers etc. my view is the ruling class is that it is the social entity that has monopolised control over the means of production (like classical Marxism) but also it has monopolised control over the ‘means of administration’ and ‘means of coercion’. So in this context my view is that our goal is not only economic equity and democracy but also spreading out the control over administration and coercion (i.e. not building a ‘revolutionary’ state that still monopolising control over coercion and administration). My view is that we will create this economic, administrative, and coercive democracy through the use of a revolutionary general strike were the international working class takes over our economic, social, and cultural institutions and starts running them through a directly democratic process (and the possible use of a democratic popular militia that is accountable to the worker and community councils to protect this new social order from counter revolution). This is the political context of this discussion document.

What should our role be in building a revolutionary socialist movement.

In my view the role of socialist Aotearoa in building a revolutionary movement should be as follows:

Socialist Aotearoa should be an organisation based around revolutionary politics that’s main goals is to educated people about radical politics, promote class consciousness, and influence working class and community organisations to take on revolutionary aims. We should be encouraging these organisations to be completely politically independent (including from us) to encourage self activity and initiative and to make sure these don’t get highjacked by people with agendas that aren’t in those organisations direct interest.

Another major role Socialist Aotearoa can take on is getting involved in struggles and building solidarity between different struggles – i.e. linking struggles between community action and union or internationalist campaigns as well as exposing people to all the different types of non parliamentary political participation available to us.

I believe as an organisation we should remain extra parliamentary and never in the future engage in being part of any state apparatus. This is for three main reasons, firstly if we do manage to have a revolution our participation in any government organisations will be redundant because our society will be run through a bottom up direct democratic process where people are controlling the decisions that effect their own lives. And secondly - if we do get involved in the government in revolutionary times we will be hindering the self activity of our communities and the working class in general by monopolising the means of administration, coercion, and production that any state apparatus systematically does. Thirdly if we get involved in electoral politics it is my opinion that we will just go down the lines of all other left electoral parties and become social democratic instead of a revolutionary force.

Group structure and organisation:

I think we need to escape the ‘tyranny of structurelessness’ that in the future could plague our organisation. This means that we should have some clear positions in our organisation that are highly accessible and accountable to our membership. I propose the most urgent of these positions is 1) Treasurer and 2) media spokesperson.

  1. The treasurers role would be to be in charge of collecting and distributing funds. I believe that as we grow as an organisation each branch should have their own treasurer to maintain local initiative and political self activity. This is not to say that we would not all get together to fund organisation wide campaigns, but the use of funds should be bottom up and highly democratic.

  2. I think we should have a accessible and accountable media spokesperson that has the role of collective building and maintaining sympathetic media contacts and can share these with the organisation.


These positions could be rotational – and any more we come up with - (like every 6 months or every year or whatever we decide) – to try and spread around the responsibility to as many willing members as possible.

I believe we should have regular meetings (maybe every 2 or 3 weeks) to discuss present, past, and future political activity and make decisions about our actions. When we do make decisions collectively on policy or strategy these decisions should not be binding for people within the organisation that disagree (to avoid tyranny of the majority).


We need to be aware of the underrepresentation of women and racial minorities in the extra parliamentary left and come up with strategies to combat this within our organising efforts. I believe this should be evident in any future organisational structure that our group takes on and as part of programs we argue for other organisations to take on. It is important that our organisation is infused with the life experience of women and racial minorities for two reasons: one so we are not reproducing types of oppression that we theoretically oppose; and secondly this will strengthen our organisation because it will be more opening and welcoming to different peoples experience and outlook. This is my opinion should not be done in the way that some organisations do – for instance the AUSA(Auckland student union) has positions like women’s affairs and Maori affairs – in my view this is just ghettoizing and separating these types of oppression instead of having anti sexist or anti racist politics infused within all of the organisation . We also need an interrogation of white male privilege and what the implications are for our organising efforts. This all needs to be done within the context of building class unity.

Above all I believe the basic principal of our organising should be that we should be as bottom up as possible allowing people to take the most initiative and encouraging self activity. However this needs to be balanced with effectiveness – we do not want to cripple ourselves with dogmatic organisational structures that mean we can’t get anything done!

Building a Mass Movement

Building a revolutionary trade union movement in Aotearoa

I believe one of the main parts of a movement that will bring around a just society is a revolutionary trade union movement. It is our job to organise one.

What is a revolutionary trade union?

I believe a revolutionary trade union has six elements:

  1. It is explicitly anti-capitalist and in favour of a directly democratic society.

  2. It is committed to becoming as democratic as possible with a bottom up structure and minimal union bureaucracy.

  3. It engages in revolutionary socialist education and is committed to raising radical anti-capitalist class consciousness.

  4. Committed to engaging directly with employers because historically government mediation has produced pro employer outcomes and has sapped worker self-activity and strength.

  5. Politically independent.

  6. Most importantly they would have an engaged and active membership.

From what I can understand there are three main strategies for building a revolutionary trade union movement. They are as follows:

One: Rank and File unionism – this concept is already part of our ‘five fingers for a fist’ so I will not go over it here.

Two: Making new unions that are revolutionary from the beginning. This has some advantages but also huge disadvantages. New Unions take and incredibly large amount of time and experience, and are usually organising people that are not already organised – this means that it can easily fail and suck up a lot of time and effort. There are also probably less likely to be radical engaged members which can lead to a top down approach. This also can have the effect of taking the militants our of the existing trade union and leaving them to the will of the bureaucrats.

Three: “Boring from within” – this approach involves taking old social democratic unions and turning them into revolutionary unions from the inside. This can be down with a combination of education and radicalisation of members and conversion of some of the bureaucrats as well as getting revolutionaries elected to positions. This has been historically successful in some cases but is very hard to do with unions controlled by either social democratic forces or communist forces as socialist militants will be expelled.

I believe that in the future we will be doing to be doing a combination of all three strategies where appropriate.

Participation in Community struggle

I believe we need to be involved in community struggle as members of the community – not as members of Socialist Aotearoa. We need to be raising radical ideas and influencing the organisations to take on more effective politics but most importantly we need to stress the idea of political independence. We must not try and take over these organisations and bring them in as part of Socialist Aotearoa or use them to our political advantage as many left wing groups have done in the past. However this does not mean that we will not start or be part community initiatives as Socialist Aotearoa but we need to be transparent in our actions.

Participation in Student struggle

I think Socialist Aotearoa should be engaged in creating branches on campuses that are autonomous to some extent that aim ad building class and student consciousness and expose students to extra parliamentary politics. I believe that and end goal is to build revolutionary student unions, campus workers unions, and lecturers unions (as described above) with the aim of putting the universities can be put under direct democratic control.

Building a revolutionary counter culture

I believe building a revolutionary counter culture is an important part of what we have to do as revolutionaries. There has been talk of doing more music events and stuff like that, as we grow we can do art and all that cool stuff. However this counter culture needs to be based in two things – firstly in has to be based in class struggle and secondly revolutionary class consciousness. I also believe that as a class based revolutionary movement grows we will see the development of a revolutionary counter culture emerging in many different and organic ways, I believe that our actions should be like this also in as much that it is not controlled to a very high extent or whatever.

However we do need to be careful that we do not let this take away from genuine political action or degenerate into identity politics. Our main goals are to be organising around and across class – not ideas. Class is a legal and economic reality in our society. Radical ideas are not.

In Conclusion

I hope this paper will promote a lot of discussion and I am totally welcome to critique and questions. I acknowledge that I have not dealt with issues like ‘workerism’ or the environment. I on these we will have to talk later but briefly we should try and remain anti-consumerist and protectors of the environment while also arguing that capitalism and the state are the cause of these problems.

In solidarity

Derwin Smith

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

TELECOM WORKERS- NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION MON 24 AUG



EPMU TELECOM/VISIONSTREAM DISPUTE - NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION – MONDAY 24 AUGUST
Yesterday EPMU members involved in the ongoing Telecom/Visionstream dispute unanimously endorsed a National Day of Action this MONDAY, 24 AUGUST. The EPMU will send out more information shortly about events throughout the country, but this is an urgent request to all Auckland unions to support the following Auckland events:
•When: Picket commences at 7.30am (arrive earlier if you need to park in nearby side-streets);
•Where: Meet at Western Park, corner of Ponsonby Road and Hopetoun Street (now known as BBQ Corner);
(click here for map: http://www.wises.co.nz/l/Auckland/Ponsonby/Hopetoun+Street/#c/2rfr1/70h4s/0/)
•What: The picket will commence at 7.30am at the Park. Groups will move off to picket the nearby Telecom offices and K-Road intersections. The pickets will be maintained throughout the day. Teams of picketers will also be dispatched to various CBD locations at lunchtime (approx 12.30pm) to leaflet the public and obtain signatures for the campaign petition;
•How: As the picket will be maintained throughout the day, we need supporters to come along at any time to support (even if you can just hang out for 10 minutes, everyone is welcome). We especially need supporters at the key times of 7.30am (to hit morning traffic), 12.30pm (to hit lunchtime public) and 3.30pm (to hit evening traffic);
•Bring: People, union banners, signs, drums, bins (if you don’t have drums), anything else to support the picket;
•Food: A BBQ breakfast will be provided at 7.30am and throughout the day.
For further information, please call me on the numbers listed below. Thanks again for your support in a campaign that the union movement must, and will, win.

Chris Flatt, National Campaign Organiser, NZ Council of Trade Unions - Te Kauae Kaimahi, Level 1, Waterfront Union Building, 29-31 Anzac Avenue, Auckland 1010. PO Box 106-314, Auckland 1143, New Zealand. DDI: (09) 280-3374; Mob: 027-451-3579; Fax: (09) 280-3367; http://www.union.org.nz/

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rousing, rebellious and downright rocking: David Rovics!



David Rovics Gig - 8pm, Thurs 20 August, Wine Cellar, K'Road, Auckland


David Rovics w. Roger Fowler - 8pm Thursday 20 August at the Wine Cellar, St.Kevins Arcade, K'rd, Auckland.
Last night of an Australasian tour by rebel folk musician from Portland, Oregon. $20 on the door.


David Rovics has been called the musical voice of the progressive movement in the US. Amy Goodman has called him "the musical version of Democracy Now!" Since the mid-90's Rovics has spent most of his time on the road, playing hundreds of shows every year throughout North America, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Japan. He and his songs have been featured on national radio programs in the US, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and elsewhere. He has shared the stage regularly with leading intellectuals (Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn), activists (Medea Benjamin, Ralph Nader), politicians (Dennis Kucinich, George Galloway), musicians (Billy Bragg, the Indigo Girls), and celebrities (Martin Sheen, Susan Sarandon). He has performed at dozens of massive rallies throughout North America and Europe and at thousands of conferences, college campuses and folk clubs throughout the world. He has loads of MP3's available for free download on his website, www.davidrovics.com, along with CDs, links, etc. More importantly, he's really good. He will make you laugh, he will make you cry, and he will make the revolution irresistible.

Opening the night is Roger Fowler, the lead singer for the Frank E. Evans Band since 1968 and Auckland's finest political songsmith.

Check out David's new songs, The Pirates of Somalia and In the Name of Goc, about the recent murder of Dr. George Tiller in the US. http://www.myspace.com/davidrovics

Monday, August 17, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

John Key backs war of terror – we say: “Troops out now!”

PROTEST: No SAS Troops to Afghanistan - 12 noon Saturday 22nd August outside Papakura Military Camp, Grove Road, Papakura. A car convoy will leave from Unite Union office, 6A Western Springs Road, Morningside. Gather at 11am.

Papakura Military Camp is the training base for the Special Air Services (SAS) troops who will be deployed to fight in Afghanistan in three rotations over the next 18 months.

John Key announced this week that New Zealand will be sending SAS soldiers into Afghanistan to join US and British troops in the devastating quagmire that continues to lay waste to one of the world's poorest countries. On a day when British troops faced their highest casualties ever in a 24 hour period, even the most foolhardy warmongers must question this decision.

Key admits in absurdly understated fashion that “there's no getting away from the fact that Afghanistan is a dangerous place”. It is certainly dangerous for foreign troops, but far more so for innocent Afghan civilians. According to a mid-year report released by the United Nations last week, the number of civilians who have been killed has risen by 24 percent on the same period last year.

The past week has seen some horrendous atrocities carried out in the name of 'liberation', including three children wrongly identified as militants killed in a US airstrike on Kowak village.

That a government intent on pushing through cuts to domestic education and public sector services has $40m to spare on destruction in another country must come as a shock to all New Zealanders.

We should mobilise the broadest possible campaign to stop the deployment of New Zealand troops and call on our government to put pressure on the US and Britain to end this unwinnable occupation.

-Comrade Nicola

This article describing a speech by Anti-war Afghan MP Malalai Joya gives a really clear analysis of what is wrong with the current strategy of the West in Afghanistan


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Telethon- It’s safe to turn your TV back on!


Telethon is over! Anyone who had the misfortune to watch this dismal attempt by minor celebrities to keep sparse audiences entertained over 23 hours will surely hope that it won’t be back for at least another 15 years. But the really dreadful thing about Telethon is that it needs to happen at all. What kind of society do we live in where tens of thousands of children have to go to school without shoes, coats or food? And what kind of society is it where the only way they can get those basic necessities is by people dressing up in chicken costumes to raise money?

Charity events like this show that ordinary people do care about each other, and are not fundamentally selfish or greedy. But they also expose the hypocrisy of the capitalist system. Without a hint of irony, the telethon that was supposed to address child poverty shamelessly plugged consumer goods and cut to endless adverts for the show’s sponsors. Equally shameful is the government’s response to the disgrace of child poverty. All week we have heard how important it is for MPs to receive thousands in expenses every week on top of their inflated salaries because of the children. Their children. Not the children who go to school barefoot, or without breakfast, or who live in damp garages.

The total amount raised by telethon is just slightly more than the $1.7m given to MPs each year in expenses for which they don’t even have to provide receipts. Anyone else think we should take the money from the MPs, give it to the children, and put something decent on the telly next year?

- Comrade Nicola

Paula Bennett fails to attend trial - found guilty in absentia


Around 25 people marched through the streets of Henderson on Saturday 8 August to convene a session of the People's court outside Paula Bennett's electorate office. Ms Bennett had been summonsed the week before to defend her decisions to cut the Training Incentive Allowance for single parents and disabled people, and to explain why she thought she had the right to make public the personal details of beneficiaries. This week's protests was joined by community groups, trades unions, local activists, single parents, disabled people and socialists from across Auckland.

The Minister failed to attend her own hearing, offering no excuse. With Dr Hu presiding, the court agreed to invite members of the crowd to offer a defense, in the interests of justice. However, the jury was unconvinced by their arguments, and found Ms Bennett guilty of the charges laid against her, in a unanimous verdict. Ms Bennett was sentenced to a painful punishment, and a warrant has been issued for the arrest of this fugitive of justice.

We need to maintain the pressure on this National/ACT government to stop making the poor pay for the financial crisis. Limiting access to the Training Incentive Allowance will prevent those students least able to attend university getting an education and a chance to get off benefits. We shouldn't assume that the attacks will stop there. The government has a user-pays agenda, which means more profits for their fat cat mates, while the poor will have to bear the financial consequences. Students should be demanding that their local student associations actively petition on campus using the campaign materials produced by NZUSA that are available HERE.

Community groups and socialists should be organising alongside single parents and disabled people to fight for full reinstatement of the Training Incentive Allowance, and to prevent further cuts to public spending and services.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

From Korea to Ireland- Workers Occupations Under Attack





THE CLASS STRUGGLE IN SOUTH KOREA
Socialist Aotearoa public meeting
with Jacob Lee, Korean Socialist with All Together
Wednesday 19th August. 7pm. Clubspace at Auckland Uni


Day of fierce fighting at occupied South Korean car factory

by Owen Miller in Seoul

The attack began at dawn today and lasted until late afternoon. Under a hail of metal bolts and stones from Ssangyong company thugs, liquid tear gas dropped from police helicopters, incessant loud music and an all-out assault by police commandos armed with steel pipes and taser guns, the occupying workers at the Ssangyong auto factory in Pyongtaek, South Korea, have held out for one more day.

They forced back a number of attempts by police to retake the car plant’s paintshop, using every means at their disposal including flaming barricades, petrol bombs, slingshots and anti-helicopter spikes.

This sort of fierce resistance reflects the real desperation of workers faced with the loss of their jobs and unlikely to find another in South Korea’s harsh labour market. It is also a reaction to the sheer brutality of the company and the Korean government in their repeated attempts to crush the occupying workers. There is a widespread belief here that the right wing Lee Myung-bak government wants to make an example of the Ssangyong workers and achieve a decisive victory against unionised labour in Korea in order to pave the way for more widespread restructuring.

There are now around 500-540 workers left inside the factory’s paintshop, living under terrible conditions after more than two months of occupation. The company and police have been enforcing a complete blockade on the occupying workers and for the last week they have had very little to eat or drink and practically no water to use for washing or going to the toilet. Many of the workers have sustained injuries during the last week of fighting but the company and police have consistently tried to block medical aid from reaching them.

Negotiations took place at the weekend between management and union leaders but they were broken off by the company on Sunday morning. Now the company, which has been under bankruptcy protection since February, faces liquidation in the next day or two and it is likely that many more will lose their jobs. Although it is clear that nationalisation is the only solution for the ailing car company, the Lee Myung-bak government seems quite happy to let it sink as long as it can score a victory against a militant section of the working class.

The remaining workers say they are ready to fight on and are surrounded by thousands of litres of flammable liquids which pose a threat to both themselves and the attacking police. On the outside of the paintshop building the occupiers have daubed the words, “If you don’t want to talk, you’d better kill us all!”

The families of the Ssangyong workers have been camped outside the plant for weeks and themselves faced violent attacks from company thugs and strike-breaking employees who have smashed up their tents in the early hours of the morning. This evening at 6.30pm, as the day of fighting came to an end, they released green helium balloons over the factory as a signal of solidarity with their loved ones inside the occupation. Despite their pleas for more negotiations there is little doubt that tomorrow morning will bring another savage assault from the police.

Brutal police assault on Thomas Cook workers in Dublin

by Tom Walker

bosses and the Irish government have launched an appalling assault on workers fighting for their jobs.

At 5am on Tuesday, some 100 police officers took over a shopping street and smashed their way into a workers’ occupation at the Thomas Cook store in central Dublin.

They sealed off the street, dragged peaceful demonstrators away and broke into the occupation with a battering ram.

Outside the Four Courts in Dublin on Tuesday afternoon some 300 people protested against the eviction and arrest of the workers.

The workers were released after they purged their contempt of court and agreed to abide by the injunction as Socialist Worker went to press.

Thomas Cook management agreed to hold talks with the workers.

More than 40 Thomas Cook workers had been occupying since Friday of last week in response to the company’s attempts to sack them.

Workers sleeping inside were taken out and arrested.

One heavily pregnant woman in the occupation went into labour after being arrested and was eventually taken to hospital.

Police initially refused to allow her husband, who is also one of the arrested occupiers, to accompany her, but both parents were present at the birth of Chelsea Clancy.

Twenty eight people were arrested. In addition to the Thomas Cook workers this included councillor Richard Boyd Barrett of the People Before Profit Alliance.

The determination of the Irish bosses to hold back the fight against job cuts was such that the Irish court sat three times on a bank holiday—specifically to set up the attack on the occupation.

The Irish bosses and state are fearful of escalating resistance to their continued attacks on workers’ rights.

Before the raid, Thomas Cook worker Antoinette Shevlin spoke to Socialist Worker from the occupation.

“On Friday the Thomas Cook security turned up, told us the shop was being closed and asked us to leave in an orderly fashion,” she said. “We weren’t taking that, so we occupied.”

The workers, who are members of the TSSA transport union, locked themselves on the top floor and refused to come out.

“The support has just been fantastic,” said Antoinette.

“People have collected money and dropped in food for us. Workers at a local grocery store sent us breakfast.”

Thomas Cook made £400 million profit last year, and CEO Manny Fontenla-Novoa paid himself a £6 million bonus.

The company is majority owned by nationalised bank the Royal Bank of Scotland—meaning that it is essentially a public company owned by us.

The closure of the Grafton Street shop had been planned to take place on 6 September.

It was moved forward after staff there held protests against the closure and voted 100 percent for industrial action.

Patrick, another worker, told Socialist Worker, “The management said, ‘You’re sacked and here’s your letter’. We told them to go and get stuffed.

“We won’t be treated without respect or dignity.”

Eight workers at Direct Holidays, another Dublin travel shop owned by Thomas Cook, also occupied from Saturday to Monday over a closure threat.

They voted to leave their occupation and join the picket outside the larger shop, before police smashed it.

This brutal assault on workers fighting for their jobs needs to be opposed by every trade unionist. Email fennj@tssa.org.uk and info@peoplebeforeprofit.ie