Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mass Blockade needed at Ports of Auckland

mass picketing in the 1970s blockaded and shut down the means of production.
These tactics are needed now on the Ports of Auckland, argues Socialist Aotearoa's Joe Carolan.


The ideological attack of the Elite 1% in New Zealand is stepping up to a new level.

The Wharfies picket line of Monday morning is now branded a sinister, violent action of gangsters and thugs, by a largely uncritical mass media. Willie Jackson's righteous call for wharfies to adopt the winning tactics of militant pickets that actually block and stop production, now sees a campaign by the right wing to vilify him and take him off the air. And on Auckland Uni campus, the loyal labour lackeys of the Princes Street branch choose to defend the scabherder Len Brown, by trespassing the activist who threw a lamington at him. What's richer than the lamington's cream is that many of these hypocrites applauded the same activist when he crowned ACT's John Bascowen with the very same cake 4 years ago.

Unionists are thugs. Left wing commentators should be sacked. Socialists are violent and must be trespassed from campus. This is the climate we are now in.

But at times of heightened class antagonism, there is also great hope.

The working class has started to see that its struggles need to unite. From the state tenants fighting eviction in Glen Innes, to the Firefighters and locked out Meatworkers who rallied to the Wharfies cause on the 5,000 strong march on Saturday, there is a growing anger and mood to have a go at the 1%.

The lockout of the Meatworkers by Talleys at the AFFCO plants is an all out attack. The tragedy is that that the refusal of the Meatworkers Union bureaucracy to fight down at the Marton plant effectively, by either blocking the entrance or occupying the plant, and denying the means of production to the scabs and the bosses, not only resulted in defeat and pay cuts, but emboldened sharks such as Talleys to go on the attack in five other meat plants.

Socialists argued for blockades and occupations then. Union bureaucrats and the soft left dismissed us as dangerous radicals. But now we see the fruit of their betrayals on the faces of the workers locked out at Fielding and at Horotiu, where my brother in law worked for over 25 years.

Do we really want to see the Wharfies defeated? Forced to take massive pay cuts, their union broken, their jobs casualised? If we don't, then we need to look to the tactics that can win this struggle- and that's the tactic of the mass blockade and the occupation.

50 or 100 wharfies trying to stop production at 5am in the morning can be easily vilified by the right wing media, and their picket easily smashed by the police. But if the 5,000 who marched last Saturday can be joined by many more at the next rally, and these people commit to standing in front of the gates and not letting any scabs through, then there is very little the authorities can do about it without declaring open war on the working class.

Arthur Scargill won a famous victory for the British Miners in the early 1970s using the same tactics at Saltley Gates, near Birmingham. The flying pickets of the Miners were joined by Railway workers, Engineers, transport workers etc. The police had no option but to retreat from the sight of thousands of determined pickets, who shut the means of production DOWN.
And that is the ultimate power that workers have-
stopping the flow of profits.

Socialist Aotearoa salutes the Wharfies on their picket lines, salutes the 5,000 who mobilised to support them last Saturday, salutes staunch left wing commentators like Hone Harawira, Matt McCarten and Willy Jackson who continue to give sound advice as to how this battle needs to involve us all.

Our members in the union movement will be openly arguing for an all out, all union, mass blockade of the Port, where wharfies can be joined by firefighters, meatworkers, GI tenants, students, fast food workers, teachers and beneficiaries. Now is the Winter of Our Discontent.


See Joe's earlier article,
On the Waterfront, for the politics behind the Ports.

1 comment:

Alex said...

I believe that the time to take back the power by the workers has come. The alternative option is the owners exploing workers for the rest of our life.