Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Scabs on Auckland's wharves

The photo above shows scabs unloading a Maersk ship this morning at Ports of Auckland. Is Auckland now a Port of Convenience?

Help Save Our Port

Join us to rally to Save Our Port and stand up for job security for the port workers and their families and for a publically owned sustainable and successful port.

This is an issue for all of us - casualisation is not good for workers or their families. This is a growing story of working in New Zealand - even when workers already offer a lot of flexibility, they are expected to give more, and often to give up any hope of a structured and healthy life.

Support the port workers, meet at Britomart at 4pm, Saturday 10th March. Entertainment and speeches at Teal Park to follow.

Universities in a neo-liberal world

"What neoliberalism has done has been to isolate and enforce a very pure form of the logic of capitalism itself. This, as we have seen in the case of universities, is a logic of competition and profit. Challenging this logic means pursuing a different kind of world, governed by different priorities - those, for example, of social justice, environmental sustainability and genuine democracy. Preserving and developing what is valuable in existing universities can't be sep- arated from the broader struggle against capitalism itself." - Alex Callinicos

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The revolution continues in 2012

2011 was a year of revolution and resistance from Tunis and Cairo to Moscow and Beijing, from Wall Street and Wisconsin to Athens and London.

The spirit of rebellion and the mood for change came to Aotearoa via facebook and twitter, Al-Jazeera and the Guardian but also via globetrotting activists who had participated in the Arab Spring in places like Bahrain’s Pearl Roundabout, in Chile’s student movement for free education or been arrested in Occupy Wall Street and brought ideas and courage back to Auckland or sent their encouragement and advice.

The wave of occupations at Auckland University and the barricading of the Business School, the rise of the Mana Movement, Occupy Auckland and the disruption of the National Party conference, the enthusiasm amongst working people for do-it-yourself rebellion from the Marton meatworkers’ struggle to the Glen Innes housing campaign were experiences tens of thousands of people will carry with them for life.

As one commentator wrote, "You may have thought such days were gone - such idealism, such eloquence, such creativity and hope. Well they're back."

But 2012 is not 2011. It is the morning after the year of revolution and the tiny elite who make up the world’s ruling class are becoming more aggressive in their attempts to put down any working class resistance to austerity and authoritarianism.

We can say this even at a local level. Auckland’s port workers have all been threatened with the sack for refusing an attack on their working conditions, the University of Auckland brings in user charges for previously free doctors visits and the National Government prepares to remove Treaty of Waitangi clauses that inhibit privatisation of electricity assets.

At a global level it is the acceleration of mass incarceration of young, people of colour from Harlem to Birmingham. It is the civil war in Syria, the occupation of Palestine, the US state terrorism in Afghanistan and the trade war against Iran. It is the suppression of illegal strikes by clandestine organisations of Chinese workers. It is the hysterical demands for more tax cuts for corporations by the Republican Party in the United States and for more cuts to workers’ living standards in Europe.

For revolutionaries, the road gets tough, but the struggle continues. For experienced trade unionists or socialists this comes as no surprise, they don’t call it struggle because it is easy. For those new to the struggle it can seem disorientating or disappointing when people become harder to mobilise, less willing to fight. However there are always struggles, sometimes small, sometimes larger, to be involved in. Some people say I’ll be there again, when thousands flood back into the streets against climate change and corporate greed, for workers’ rights or against deep sea oil drilling. But who will need you when there are thousands of others in the streets?

It is when times are tougher, the struggle harder and when the victories come more infrequently that activism is most important. In quieter times when the smell of tear gas in the streets is not as strong the struggles of working people are just as important. 1968 is today remembered by historians as the global year of revolt against the Vietnam War, racism against African-Americans and for workers’ power but it was not until June 1969 that the Stonewall riots broke out in New York City, marking the beginning of the modern gay rights movement.

In 2011 the world learnt that there are hundreds, even thousands, of revolutionaries in every city of the Western capitalist world prepared to Occupy for a planet liberated from the exploitation and domination of the 1%. We also learnt that for genuine change to come to a region like the Middle East a revolution involving millions of people, striking, protesting and taking direct action is needed.

The most important lesson from 2011 might be not from the Occupy movement but from the fight of American dock workers at the small West Coast port town of Longview who won an eight month fight to have their union recognised by an employer determined to drive down wages and conditions. The victory came after a long campaign where union “members took risks and left their jobs—in effect creating a wildcat strike. They tore down fences and spilled millions of dollars of grain. They physically blocked a train, guided by their International union, whose president, Bob McEllrath, still faces criminal charges.” The lesson? Working people might not always win quickly or easily, but with the right tactics, perseverance and determination we can win eventually. Workers are the many, the bosses and the bankers are the few. With organisation comes the power to win.

Socialist Aotearoa is a revolutionary socialist organisation active in workers’ unions, the Mana Movement, community struggles over housing and the environment and in mobilising against war and capitalism. We are working to build a united front against asset sales, charter schools and oil drilling. We know the road forward for humanity is tough but it will get even tougher if we do not take action now on issues such as climate change, imperialism and the growing gap between rich and poor cannot. In Greece appeals for patience from European Union technocrats has not halted rising levels of Government debt and rising unemployment. Corporate polluters and the fossil fuel industry have derailed all attempts to reduce carbon emissions and rising sea levels will claim the Maldives archipelago in the Indian Ocean before we ever get climate action from elite controlled governments.

We desperately need to turn the tide of human history. We could have a planet without famine, unemployment, poverty, environmental destruction and war. To take back the global economy from bankers and put it under the democratic control and public ownership of working people from top-to-bottom requires revolutionary change. The unfolding crisis in Greece, the ongoing imperial war in the Middle East and the threat of unstoppable climate chaos presents everyone on Earth with a choice – let the world continue to slide into a barbaric and awful place to live or fight here and now for revolutionary change with millions of other people around the planet. The revolutionary struggle against the bankers and the dictators, the technocrats and the bosses begun in 2011 continues in 2012.

-Socialist Aotearoa

Monday, February 20, 2012

Phil Twyford - "Urban planning is a class issue"

Take back all the farms

Near Benneydale, in the southern King Country, a Crafar farm has been occupied by iwi.

Members of Ngati Rereahu deep in the Rohepotae have moved to occupy one of the Crafar farms in the central North Island calling for the Government to sell them the farms where their ancestors are buried.
They plan to move shipping containers bearing protest banners to the side of the nearby highway and say they are prepared to stay for the long haul.

A Ngati Rereahu spokesperson, Edward Moana-Emery, says the protest is a continuation of the 126-year fight with the Crown and will be part of its Treaty claim.

The land was once part of the iwi's ancestral whenua and two Maori land trusts were part of the Crafar farms purchase group trying to buy back the land.

Mr Moana-Emery told Checkpoint the iwi has the money to buy the farms and is serious about owning the land
The occupation of one of the sixteen farms up for possible sale to a Chinese consortium is a blow to the Government's privatisation and corporatisation agenda. Public pressure is building in unlikely places. In Glen Innes community opposition is mounting to the sell down of state housing to property speculators. On Friday night community activists, Mana, Labour and Maritime Union leaders came together under the umbrella Aotearoa is Not for Sale. The CTU and Grey Power are leading plans to initiate a petition against asset sales but only grassroots resistance, community organisation and mass direct action can stop the corporate agenda.

That's why the the struggles of Ngati Rereahu, of the GI tenants and of the wharfies are so important. The electoral schemes of politicians are as ephemeral as a promise from John Key. A million non-voters is not a mandate for asset sales. A million non-voters is not a mandate for softly, softly parliamentary activism. We need a fightback led in the community where the voices of the people are heard. A do-it-yourself rebellion where the experience and resources of the extra-parliamentary left will be handy to those new to the fightback.

Twenty people walking onto a farm is not yet mass resistance. The experience in Glen Innes over the weekend where a sit-in of a dozen people catalysed a community mobilisation on Monday show that small fights can however inspire broader confidence to struggle and renewed determination to win. The task for socialists in the coming period is to assist wherever people are fighting back and to argue for mass action, ever increasing pressure on the state and for unity and solidarity between the struggles - workplace and housing, Maori and pakeha. Aotearoa is not for Sale. Take back all the farms. Ka whawhai tonu matou.

-Socialist Aotearoa

Sunday, February 19, 2012

'Holmes makes me physically sick'

Maori and Pakeha united against racism

Mana stalwarts Kereama Pene from Ratana and Syd Keepa, Vice President of the CTU

The real loathsome parasitical minority who bludge off the majority- the Rich.

Albert Street, Auckland was aloud with honking and shouting last Thursday and for once it wasn’t due to a traffic jam. 60 protesters armed the streets with banners and flags to bring attention to the disgusting display of racism and hatred Paul Holmes showed in his last Herald article.

The article entitled ‘Waitangi Day a complete waste’ was laden with shocking and degrading descriptions of Waitangi Day and Maori people. Holmes claimed Waitangi Day produces ‘hatred, rudeness and violence.’ He continued to say ‘This enables (Maori) to blissfully continue to believe that New Zealand is the centre of the world, no one has to have a job and the Treaty is all that matters.’

John Minto from Global Peace and Justice Auckland was the first to speak at the rally telling people that Holmes has a broad and obvious history of racism, including calling UN Secretary General Kofi Annan a ‘cheeky darkie.’

‘Holmes has only ever attacked the vulnerable people of New Zealand,’ Minto said. ‘His never ending hatred towards Maori is intolerable and we wont stand for it anymore. Holmes has become stagnant in his ways on talkback radio and will only ever target the lowest common denominator.’

The second to speak was Joe Carolan from Socialist Aotearoa. Joe stated Holmes was trying to revamp an ever fading career and as result his actions are further dividing the people of New Zealand.

He went on to say the Herald itself has always held an anti-maori, anti-poor and anti-working class stance. ‘The Herald seeks to destroy ties between the working class, they want us at each others throats,’ Carolan shouted, ‘So we don’t fight back our real exploiters. Let them say what they like, we will not let their hate speech into our homes and into our minds,’ he concluded to loud applause from the crowd.

Kereame Pene from Mana spoke next. His proud confident voice reached the streets as he brought attention to Paul Holmes and Paul Henry using the treaty to divide us. He agreed with Joe that the richest 1% want to separate Maori and Pakeha from unity. ‘We live in this country side by side. We as Maori and Pakeha, will fight and continue fighting for our future generations. We can work, stand and live together, united as one,’ Kereame concluded to exceptional applause.

When the noise had died down Craccum editor Thomas Dykes took the megaphone, While he admitted Holmes has the right to freedom of speech, he did in no way condone hate speech. The crowd agreed as he stated we were all collected in solidarity to show not all Pakeha feel the way as Holmes does. Thomas told the protesters that "Free speech was wasted on Paul Holmes."

Syd Keepa, Vice President of the Council of Trade Unions, spoke next, telling people, 'The Herald has been giving unionists and Maori shit for years.' He too, acknowledged Paul Holmes’ right to dislike protests, but feels this time he has gone too far, 'This article made me feel physically ill. We don’t need this in our country. In this time we need to unify, to rise as one and fight back.' Syd concluded his speech by saying he still had faith in Waitangi Day and told the audience that without protests Maori would not have the Treaty settlements process.

Protesters continued to chant outside the Herald building for around 45 minutes.

-Morgan G. SA

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hot Summer in Glen Innes

Media Release
Socialist Aotearoa
9.30am 19/02/2012

Protesters still in vacant Glen Innes state house

A dozen protesters will stay in an empty Glen Innes state house today and tonight after police agreed to let protesters continue their sit-in.

One of the Glen Innes Housing New Zealand sections due to be sold to property speculators in May, 25 Silverton Ave, Glen Innes, was taken over on Saturday by members of the community who held a BBQ on the front lawn.

"The evictions in Glen Innes of tenants like Moepai Temata, whose story featured on TVNZ's Close Up programme on Friday night, should be stopped and the Glen Innes properties should remain with Housing New Zealand to house future generations of Aucklanders," said Socialist Aotearoa spokesperson Shane Malva.

"State houses were intended as spacious, healthy family homes for life and many were given to soldiers returning from World War Two. For the Government to then attempt to evict families in Glen Innes including the families of returned servicemen is absolutely revolting."

"Housing is a right of all New Zealanders and any privatisation or sell down of the housing stock is an attack on that right. Protests in Glen Innes will continue until the Government withdraws its notices of eviction and scraps plans to sell off state homes," concluded Mr. Malva


Socialist Aotearoa spokesperson Shane Malva is available for comment on 0212080218

3NEWS: Eviction protestors occupy Auckland house
TVNZ: State house tenant protest heats up

TVNZ: Protesting state housing tenants to move on | Video

Defend Glen Innes- ROCK THE HOUSE

The youth of GI- defending State Housing
the People's House, 25 Silverton Avenue, GI.

17 year old Scott Hita occupying his Aunt's House of 20 years, with SA's George Mitchell

GI don't stop till we get the PoPo off the Block!

The residents of Glen Innes and their supporters have had enough. In opposition to the evictions of Housing New Zealand, the People's House of 25 Silverton Avenue has been occupied. One of the protestors, 17 year old Scott Hita, has occupied the house that his Aunt lived in for 20 years before she was moved on.

The police have already been round in force, but there is tension in the air. Mass arrests and evictions will ignite this working class suburb of Auckland, and the ruling class is nervous about going in heavy.

So this Monday, hip hop artists, musicians, poets and social justice campaigners are rallying at the People's House to demand an end to the evictions, and the right of working class New Zealanders to live in the suburb that they have always lived in.

from 6pm onwards
Monday 20th February
25 Silverton Avenue,
Glen Innes, Auckland.

Bring your guitars and drums and kids and friends. Bring a plate. Bring your flags. Bring it on.

Monday, February 13, 2012

G.I. will not be moved

Moepai Temata, resident for 47 years in GI will not be moving out without a fight.

History was made last night in Glen Innes when residents decided to fight the National government’s plans to sell off their state houses. The community organised meeting was held at Grace Church and facilitated by local resident Lisa Gibson. Tariana Turia, Phil Heatley and Mayor of Auckland Len Brown all sent excuses for their non-attendance. Clearly they have better things to do than listen to residents concerns about the ‘Tamaki Development Project” which will involve the eviction of 156 long-term community members. Some of which have been there for 57 years.

Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira, Local Councillor Richard Northey and Labour Party MP Phil Twyford came to hear the community voice their outrage at the plans to displace residents in the name of profit. National MP’s; Alfred Ngaro, Simon O’Connor and Sam Lotu-liga sat in shame listening to the pain and suffering they are causing to the community they are delegated to represent in parliament. Pita Sharples (also in attendance) appeared to be caught in the middle of a civil war in Maoridom between the sell-out capitalist Maori traitors and those with their Mana still intact.

Yvonne Daintie spoke first, challenging the National Party’s claim that we must not look to the past: “The past informs our present and our future. That’s why we have a treaty. We wouldn’t all be here if there wasn’t a serious problem. What you are doing is unacceptable and we will not tolerate it. The Tamaki project was put forward without consulting the people who live there. We have documentation from Stewart Bracy that promises people will not be moved out of their homes. How can we trust you to consult for us when you lie to us? We have leaked documents of who will be evicted. It’s a disgrace. You say you have a community mandate but you do not. Alfred Ngaro met with 14 carefully selected ‘yes men’; there were not delegated by us. Our elderly and disabled are suffering because of you. Our elders are having heart attacks from the stress and our children are frightened they are going to lose their homes. You say you care about the people but you tread on our Mana. You promised us jobs three years and you have not delivered. How can we afford to buy houses when there aren’t any jobs? We refuse to let our children live in cramped high-rise towers. You are not valuing our basic human rights. We are fighters and this is not a done deal. Every document will hold you accountable. We will not be moved.” She concluded to thunderous applause and shouts of solidarity.

Sue Henry a local resident and community organiser spoke next explaining the unfolding situation in depth. Stating that maps were changed without due process and that tenants were lied to when they were promised they would not be forced to leave. She laughed in the face of intimidation tactics being implemented and said that the property developers could “take a hike”. She demanded an apology to the young, sick and elderly in the community with a truly moving speech that captivated the audience and triggered rounds of applause at every statement of defiance.

Phyllis Pomare issued a strong call of action to rise in the fight for their community against asset sales and high-rise ‘slum’ housing for the area. She claimed that the government was ‘experimenting’ in Glen Innes to see if similar policies could be introduced elsewhere. She accused the Minister of Housing Phil Heatley of planning to accommodate 10,000 people in Glen Innes over the next few years using ‘mesh boxes’ or ‘slum housing’. She slammed the actions of Housing New Zealand who told approximately 160 residents to leave their homes in September 2011 and plan to issue those still remaining in May with a 90 day eviction notice. She called it a disgrace that some long-term tenants had been threatened that if they didn’t leave they would not be provided with a house in future and could end up living on the streets. She accurately depicted a slimy picture of the National Government saying that they cared more about money than people and “inflicted undue stress on the most vulnerable within their community”. And that their reckless disregard for families stood to force children from their homes and destroy lives through alienation and inhumane housing. She finished beautifully by saying that she sees the strength, family values, pride and spirit in her neighbourhood everyday and that “Together we will fight.”

Marian Peker stood representing private home-owners who are also affected by the drive to create a housing bubble which will make their mortgages unaffordable in order to clear them out of the area. She accused the National Government of ethnic cleansing and said that “clearly her people were the wrong colour for John Key’s ‘Brighter Future’”.

Many other residents voiced their anger and frustration at the disgraceful behaviour of both the National Government and Housing New Zealand. Some were reduced to tears, others held banners and called for solidarity from other organisations. All roused glorious applause from the audience.

The National MPs appeared near breaking point as they responded by spouting empty rhetoric, party slogans and weak apologies. Beads of sweat dripping from their furrowed brows whilst their feet shuffled nervously towards the exit.

Leader of the Mana Party Hone Harawira spoke last, calling for increased action from the community and stating that they had the Mana Party’s complete support. He advised residents not to sign anything individually, but instead to come together and fight as one. “Don’t allow them to pick you off one by one”. He finished with a powerful message of “WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED”.

It was a night of mixed emotions and powerful speeches. After the dust had settled one fact became overwhelmingly clear. The National Government has one hell of a fight on their hands to break apart and remove this vibrant, strong and increasing organised community from their homes.

-Shane M., SA

Aotearoa is Not for Sale- the Movie.

Chris Trotter, Bomber Bradbury and Joe Carolan speak at the formation of the
Aotearoa is Not For Sale campaign, Unite Union, Feb 9th 2011. With thanks to Vinny Eastwood, aka MrNews.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

It's time for Holmes to go

Paul Holmes racist rantings in the Weekend Herald have the potential to cause racial disharmony.

This bigot is attempting to stir up anger and ridicule against Maori and in turn sister against sister, brother against brother, friend against friend.

Paul Holmes last racist column has already created a legitimation that racists and bigots around New Zealand are using to denigrate Maori.

We call on all Aucklanders who oppose racism and who were offended by Holmes's slurs to join us in a picket of the NZ Herald this Thursday from 5.30pm to 6.30pm

If Holmes writing, which encourages prejudice and hate of all Maori is tolerated by our media then New Zealand, will reap worse and more disgusting forms of racism in the future,

Organised by www.socialistaotearoa.org

Socialist Aotearoa is an anti-capitalist, anti-racist organisation of workers and students, Maori and Pakeha.

@ NZ Herald Office, 46 Albert Street, Auckland

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The making of the Chinese working class

Internal contradictions: The aftermath of a 2011 riot by Chinese workers.

China has made it. Its GDP continues to increase around 10% a year (phenomenal!), it has a leading and indispensable role in the global market, and it has a large but stable population whose living standards continue to improve. China really is a success. The IMF writes that “by nearly all accounts [Deng’s] strategy has worked spectacularly.” Deng Xiaoping was the leader of the CCP who introduced economic changes under the banner of ‘Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’ in the late seventies. The growing strength of the Chinese economy is attributed to these policies and were the beginning of what has been three and a half decades of radical neoliberalization of the economy.

However the praise China has reaped in the last few decades has come almost exclusively from its ‘successful’ economic policies. Most mainstream news articles about China ignore the occupations of Tibet, Inner Mongolia and East Turkestan or the high numbers of Chinese subjected to torture and executions. Sure, these issues pop up and now again, but the real focus stays on news pertaining to its steady GDP growth and its status as the world’s powerhouse (read ‘slave labour’). Such strong growth and economic stability is seen by many as a purely positive development. Growing inequalities between the wealthy minority and the rest of the population tell a different story however. The Gini coefficient, a statistic measuring wealth distribution, grows yearly. Widely recognized as an important indicator of population health, China’s .047 shows a substantially higher disparity between the wealthy and poor than the recognized “warning level” for social instability at 0.4.

Unsurprisingly, the goodwill many states have towards China ultimately comes from its role in the world market. The profits corporates can make from paying wretched wages and forcing dangerous work conditions on Chinese workers automatically makes the dictatorship that supports such exploitation an attractive ally. We don’t usually hear about workers’ lives (or deaths) in our mainstream media and our governments are ever positive to the CCP because having a slave population benefits the wealthy who control our television stations and our politicians. Consequently, the effects of the CCP’s capitalist policies to their own population are ignored. In this context Chinese workers committing suicide or dying from overwork or dangerous working conditions are isolated cases. The depth and breadth of economic oppression that the entire working-class faces is subordinated to a few footnotes. Furthermore, ‘Made in China’ computers, cellphones, clothes, etc are affordable for those living in developed countries. We are blinded both by our own comfort and by the wealthy who control our world.

Despite what we are told, the success that China has had in accumulating wealth is not reflected by raised living standards for the average Chinese. The decline in absolute poverty, those living on less than $1/day, has still left 150 million behind. The reduction in the proportion of absolute poverty is a statistic that needs more qualifying anyway. Despite growth to become the biggest economy in the world, the 16% living in absolute poverty today has not changed drastically since 1985. The most dramatic decline was from 76% in 1980 to 23% in 1985. The continual neoliberalization of the country has not benefitted most Chinese.

The divide between rich and the poor is further exacerbated by the plight of particularly disadvantaged groups including ethnic minorities and migrant workers and their families. Migrant workers, or the ‘floating population’, officially number 120 million (230 million counting their families). Many leave their partners and children in their rural hometowns and send $65.4 billion back home. The discrimination many face as well as the displacement and often unpaid wages manifested itself in 2005 when migrant worker Wang Binyu stabbed five people, killing four, when he was abused and beaten up by his bosses for trying to get wages he was owed.

The CCP’s ‘Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’ is a gross perversion of socialist principles and comes at the price of the exploitation of a labour force numbering 780 million. Deng’s economic reforms saw the deregulation of prices and wages, the decollectivization of farmland, opening up to foreign investment (or rather, permission to exploit the Chinese labour force), and the privatization and contracting out of state-owned assets. The name is simply a whitewash of a neoliberal agenda that has seen the destruction of the welfare system and the betrayal of the proletariat, the very people the CCP waxes lyrical about existing for the benefit to. The ever-increasing numbers of workers taking action in strikes and demonstrations against such anti-working-class policies is hopeful, however.

With the talk surrounding the imminent arrival of the twelfth Five-year plan the CCP is clearly worried about what they call ‘mass incidents’. Yang Weimin from the National Development and Reform Commission says while earlier plans focused on building “a strong country”, the 2012-2017 plan focuses on “prosperity for the people”. Such rhetoric has been spoken for years, however. The most recent Hu-Wen administration has been talking the people (rather than the economy) since they established themselves in 2003. It stinks of concession for the sake of dispelling worker rage. Reform for the sake of retaining power might slow down the oppressed but it will never be a solution. Small reforms can be disempowering when they take the edge of protesters’ rage and curtail the potency of revolutionary sentiment. The heavy-handed tyranny of the CCP, however, makes any small concession a big victory for those who withstood the fear of the state monster.

-Rose W, SA.

Timeline of recent strikes

26-8 December – At an LG Display plant in Nanjing workers from one of the four buildings walked out. After assembling outside they were joined by workers from the three other buildings shutting down the entire plant. 8000 workers went on strike, initially attempting to negotiate with LG managers but then walking out once they realized their concerns were not being taken seriously. These negotiations were over different end-of-year bonuses for Chinese workers (one month pay) to Korean workers (six months pay).

27 December – In Guangzhou at Alei Siti factory workers strike over annual bonus reductions. They work 12-hr days. In April 2011 the workers went on strike for higher wages and got a 300RMB increase/month.

30 December – Thousands at Sichaun Chemical Works went on strike for better wages and annual bonuses.

3 January 2012 - At a Foxconn factory in Wuhan, Hubei 300 workers gathered on the roof of the factory and threatened to commit mass suicide. This came after management refused to increase pay, issued them with an ultimatum of quitting with some compensation or returning to work without a pay rise, and then dishonoured the agreement refusing the promised compensation for those who quit.

4 January – 2000-10,000 Pangang steel workers walked out to protest low wages in Chengdu, Sichuan. They demonstrated in the streets and were beaten by authoritarian police forces numbering 1000 armed with pepper spray. Five were arrested.

5-8 January – At Snow Beer in Dalian 1000 workers launched a strike and successively picketed the factory for three days in protest of low wages and poor benefits.

7 January – 1300 workers walked out of a toy factory over unpaid wages and poor working conditions in Wuzhou, Guangxi.

11 January – In Dongguan, Guangdong 1000 workers took to the streets over the sudden closure of the Creative Master factory they worked at.

12 January - 1000 workers at Foxconn in Yantai, Shandong stopped work over unequal pay for the same jobs.

13 January – 2000 workers went on strike at a Changhe-Chang’an factory in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi after being informed the company was switching from a partnership with Suzuki to Mazda. The closure will leave thousands of workers jobless, workers who are already struggling on a meager 1700RMB/mth. Workers stormed management’s offices and then rallied on the streets for hours, accompanied by heavily-clad police forces.

14 January – Another strike by 4000 workers at a Sanyo factory in Shekou, Shenzhen when the company was sold. Workers were told just a week before the takeover and not offered any compensation for their previous work despite it changing their medical and pension benefits. Four people were arrested in clashes with police.

16 January – 8000 workers at a Foster Electric plant in Nanning, Guangxi walked off the job after being denied their usual end-of-year bonuses despite bosses retaining their bonuses. Police blockaded the main exit to prevent them from demonstrating in the street

This is an incomplete timeline compiled from various local sources and two international sources (ChinaStrikes.crowdmap.com and ChinaLabourWatch.org). Whilst Chinese workers are increasingly utilizing the internet to get news out, dissent remains censored to a high degree.

The show is on Friday

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Occupy- where now? American socialists discuss.

Our movement needs to use every opportunity to build resistance to the agenda of the 1 percent--whether that means bigger struggles or smaller ones.

Occupy protesters march in New York City

THE OCCUPY encampments of last fall are nearly all gone--cleared, often brutally, in a series of police raids.

Nevertheless, the Occupy movement sticks to U.S. politics like a burr. Even Republican presidential candidates have acknowledged "vulture capitalism" and inequality. Democrats talk tough about how they'll stand up for the 99 percent...if only you vote for them in November.

These signs of the Occupy movement's impact even within the narrow confines of mainstream politics show that the movement slogan is right: "You can't evict an idea whose time has come." The main theme of Occupy--that the hard-pressed majority in society is fed up with the greed, corruption and power of the 1 percent--continues to resonate, shaping the ideas and beliefs of millions of people long after the encampments were raided.

The question now is how Occupy activists can build on last fall's activities, connect with the wider layers of people who support Occupy, and turn that sentiment into further participation--even at a time when the movement is less visible as a result of the dispersal of the camps and its activities draw fewer numbers in most cases. The protests and the General Assemblies may be smaller, but the need for the movement is no less urgent.

The heart of Occupy from the beginning has been grassroots activism--sometimes small in size, sometimes larger--and this remains the key.

The reason that a few hundred activists who launched Occupy Wall Street in New York City were able to inspire a national and then international movement was because they galvanized and mobilized popular anger over declining living standards, mass unemployment, rising inequality and the corporate domination of politics.

Occupy quickly became a hub for all kinds of protests. Workers fighting for union contracts saw the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park as a natural rallying point. People facing eviction and foreclosure found ready allies as well. Individuals and organizations committed to challenging the politicians' cuts to social services got support from Occupy activists who turned routine bureaucratic meetings into indoor rallies through the "peoples' mic."

That's why conservatives--and even some sympathetic liberals--missed the point when they criticized Occupy for its lack of demands. In fact, the movement was both making a general critique of a U.S. society dominated by the 1 percent, while opening up a political space for all those organizing against the injustices of that society.

Thus, the angry protests against the execution of an innocent African American man, Troy Davis, marched to Zuccotti Park--as did Verizon workers fighting a union-busting company. Occupy the Hood in Boston and Occupy El Barrio in Chicago linked the Occupy model to ongoing struggles in the community. The movement connected veteran activists with newly radicalized people--some young, some not--around the need to organize and act.

Now, with the encampments removed, Occupy no longer has the physical space in most cities to serve as a center for activism. But that doesn't mean Occupy activists need to turn inward and lose their connection to support on a wider scale. It's still possible for the movement to aim to bring together those fighting around different struggles--to support one another and build a united alternative to the priorities of the 1 percent.

The hostile right-wingers who declared the movement dead spoke too soon. And the Democratic Party operatives who think they can hijack Occupy and turn it into an election vehicle are wrong, too. Occupy continues to be a crossroads of activism in many cities, with its various working groups and spinoffs pushing ahead.

One example is Occupy the Department of Education in New York City, which is playing a leading role in the fight against school closures. Various Occupy labor outreach committees have revived solidarity networks in a number of cities--and started them where they didn't exist. From New York to San Francisco, Occupy has provided enthusiastic support for the struggle against foreclosures--and helped to win small victories that have made a huge difference to the families whose homes were saved.

This kind of patient work--even if it doesn't make the front pages--is essential if Occupy is to grow from a movement with mass support into a movement with mass participation.

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UNFORTUNATELY, SOME in the Occupy movement argue that these kinds of campaigns aren't enough. They claim the movement needs to "go big" with a bold initiative. One proposal is for a general strike on May Day. Occupy General Assemblies in some cities have voted to proceed with such organizing--which, according to one group in New York City, should include a "five-day weekend."

There are many problems with this proposal. The most obvious is that strikes in the U.S. are at a historic low, the result of a decades-long employer war on labor and decline in union membership. Going from this starting point to a national general strike by May 1 is, to put it politely, unrealistic.

Such a call risks discrediting the idea of strike action when the goal of Occupy and labor movement militants should be to revive the strike as a weapon--and win the strikes that do take place through stopping production and building solidarity.

Those in support of the May Day proposal point to the success of the November 2 day of action in Oakland, Calif.--in response to Occupy Oakland's call for a general strike following a vicious police raid on its encampment and attack on demonstrators, in which a police projectile nearly killed Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen.

Certainly, many Oakland residents skipped work on November 2, and local unions supported the day of protests, though not as a formal strike. Rank-and-file union members led the organizing, and the day culminated in a march of some 15,000 people for a community picket that closed down the Port of Oakland.

The general strike call in Oakland produced an important and inspiring display of solidarity. But the day of action was not the same as a general strike--not of the kind that Oakland saw in 1946, nor the mass actions that shut down the cities of Toledo, Minneapolis and San Francisco in 1934.

If the term general strike is to mean anything, it must describe the coordinated action of workers in solidarity with one another to shut down production by staying away from work--not as individuals, but through collective action.

Another example for those who favor an Occupy-initiated general strike this year is May Day 2006, when millions of immigrant workers did stay away from work to protest the proposed Sensenbrenner bill that would have turned some 14 million undocumented workers into criminals. With George W. Bush in the White House, even liberal groups usually averse to workers' action, along with some Democratic politicians, jumped on board.

Today, however, the situation is different. Unlike in 2006, when low unemployment made immigrant workers more willing to risk their jobs by skipping work for a day, the high jobless rate will deter such action. And with Barack Obama as president, liberal immigrant rights groups and Democratic politicians are determined to head off any protest that could upset Obama's reelection plans.

A May Day general strike call that hinges on mass participation by immigrant workers is highly unlikely to gain traction. A better way for Occupy to forge links with the immigrant rights movement is to build solidarity with those protesting anti-immigrant laws--like activists on the front lines in Alabama and Arizona--as well people challenging the Obama administration's stepped-up program of deportations.

May Day should be a focus for Occupy, and an important one. Immigrant groups in many cities continue to use that day for protests, and Occupy should support them. It's also important to reassert the history and politics of May Day through meetings, panel discussions and rallies. Occupy has awakened interest in the often neglected history of the struggles of working people and the oppressed, and May Day is an opportunity to bring a new generation of activists into that discussion.

It should go without saying that opposing a call for a general strike on May 1 doesn't mean opposing protest. On the contrary, every city has critical issues that are in need of local actions--and, where appropriate, national days of action. In this regard, the demonstrations planned against the NATO/G8 joint summit in Chicago in May can and should be a focus for Occupy protesters.

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THE DISCUSSION about May Day comes amid a more immediate debate about Occupy-sponsored protests in Oakland on January 28 that gained national attention.

The goal of the January 28 demonstration in Oakland, approved in a General Assembly, was to take over an empty building as a new base camp of the Occupy movement and a center for the community. In the main action in the early afternoon, more than 1,000 people marched on the closed-down Kaiser Convention Center, but were stopped from entering by police. A second smaller evening march was cornered by the cops, and hundreds of people were arrested. Later still, a small number of people broke into City Hall and committed acts of vandalism.

The daytime march drew a large and diverse crowd that included families with their children. But the lesson seems clear that its numbers were too small to successfully overcome the forces of the police and take over the convention center.

Moreover, one group among the marchers tried to use homemade shields, giving the impression that a showdown with the cops was the aim of the demonstration, rather than opening up a building for urgently needed social services. Using such confrontational tactics--in the context of a modestly sized demonstration facing an aggressive force of police--needlessly put the whole of the protest at greater risk of violence and arrest.

At the end of the day, a small number of people got into City Hall and ransacked parts of it, including burning an American flag while the cameras rolled. This was utterly irresponsible and ought to be condemned. It handed city officials and the media the perfect opportunity to smear Occupy activists as determined to cause mayhem and out of touch with Oakland residents.

Yet despite these setbacks, some sections of the movement seem to think Occupy needs to take the offensive. Their sentiments were expressed by a statement issued in the name of the Occupy Oakland Move-In Assembly that vowed to escalate the actions--including blockading Oakland International Airport--if protesters were denied entry into the building they were targeting. "If you try to evict us again, we will make your lives more miserable than you make ours," the statement declared.

Given the modest size of the building takeover protest--between 1,000 and 2,000, according to estimates, a fraction of the numbers who participated on November 2--this was pure bluster. Such statements will widen a gap that is developing between the core of committed Occupy activists and larger numbers of people who have supported the movement.

As many as 400 people were arrested on January 28, and many were subjected to atrocious conditions while they were held for days on end before being released. This shows the kind of repression the authorities are prepared to use against Occupy--and our movement has to consider this in developing our strategies.

Certainly even peaceful protests are often targeted by police. But the cops are much less willing to carry out aggressive tactics against big protests, such as the November 2 day of action in Oakland or the mass Occupy protest of 100,000 in New York City last October 15.

Unfortunately, a minority of the movement today has a different approach--one that can only be called elitist. By equating clashes with the police with militancy--and asserting their right to carry out such tactics whether or not the rest of the movement agrees--they are seeking to impose their leadership on Occupy.

Protests should be organized to maximize the numbers involved, not narrow them to a core of people who are willing to battle police or climb into City Hall and declare it as a revolutionary act. Making a principle of confronting police at every turn will only strengthen the hands of the cops and the politicians as they attempt to drive a wedge between Occupy activists and the 99 percent.

The media and politicians are trying to use the Oakland demonstration to discredit Occupy and justify even greater police repression in the future--without acknowledging that by far the most aggressive and destructive violence on January 28 was committed by the cops.

Occupy supporters have to denounce that police violence and challenge the media's distortions about the movement. But we shouldn't sidestep a necessary debate within our ranks about Occupy's direction.

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AT ITS height, Occupy mobilized large numbers because it insisted on the rights and dignity of the 99 percent. Its participants were determined to make their voices heard to counter the slanders of politicians and the media. We need initiatives that draw in larger numbers from the millions of people who have shown their sympathy with the movement--not adventurist actions by a minority out to demonstrate their supposedly superior politics and commitment.

Certainly, the struggle will go up and down. In a big public-sector strike, for example, Occupy could be crucial in rallying support for workers and defending public services on the chopping block. The organizing around the NATO/G8 meeting in Chicago could provide a focus for a renewed national debate on the austerity policies and imperial power plays being carried out by the U.S. government and its guests at the summit.

But as much as all Occupy supporters are eager for such big mobilizations, there are no shortcuts. Building the movement from its present circumstances will require systematic and patient organizing. In those struggles--large and small--links are forged, trust is built, and organization formed.

The capitalist class has made it clear that it has a long-term program to impose a deep and permanent cut in working people's living standards. Occupy has to develop a perspective of building the resistance to that agenda at each step of the way--and building a movement that can challenge the system itself.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Time to Fight for a Living Wage

Kate Wilkinson announced this afternoon that the minimum wage would increase by 50 cents in New Zealand on April 1st 2012, to a new rate of $13.50. Anger is already brewing in many worksites of low paid workers, who will be voting for a campaign to deliver much more.

"Anger amongst the near half a million workers on less than $15ph in New Zealand will not be bought off with the 50 cent increase in the minimum wage today. Our workers in cinemas and fastfoods are voting to campaign for a living wage of $15ph this year. The government increase of 3.8% is a tacit admission that hundreds of thousands of workers in NZ just dont earn enough to live on adequately. Especially when workers in low paid jobs have no security of hours, and have their rosters changed from week to week. Casualisation and underemployment are the hidden scourges of the lowest paid workers in this society, and this problem will not be solved with half a dollar. "

-Joe Carolan, Campaign for a Living Wage organiser, Unite Union.

The real solution is for low paid workers to join the union and plan strike action, protests and stoppages in their workplaces. We don't need to wait for another year or election for Governments or politicians to throw us crumbs from the Master's table. Workers are the ones who create all of society's wealth- we can improve our lives if we organise and take action where we are strongest- time to bring the fights to the sites.

Ka whawhai tonu matou

In praise of community gardens

In our current state of continual environmental degradation, it is important for people to reconnect with the natural world so that our interest in protecting vital resources becomes an essential part of our lives.

I had never taken much interest in growing vegetable fruit and herbs, worm farming or bee keeping and certainly not creating compost. Having grown up in the concrete jungles of our planet’s major cities, my infinity with nature was never firmly cemented until I went travelling in my late teens. I’m not alone in this; I have met many people who fit the same trend. It is a simple fact of industrialised society that most people buy their food from a company; usually a supermarket chain. But why? Why do we not encourage our city dwelling youngsters an appreciation of the natural world? and perhaps more importantly; Why do we not teach them how to cultivate food?

I recently took a keen interest in my local community garden. It was set up three years ago as part of a global movement of people who want to grow organic food within their communities around the world. Its main purpose is that of a showcase garden. Where people can come to learn the skills they need to grow food on their own land. There is a large communal planting area, worm farms, beehives, a chicken coup, a communal kitchen, a woodfire pizza oven, a green house, a rotating compost system and various other ventures. The rule of thumb is that whoever is working at the time can take ripe produce home. So you do a couple hours gardening and leave with a basket of food. A few cucumbers, a lettuce, a punnet of strawberries, some honey and half a dozen eggs would be about the amount of food one could expect to take home after a summer Sunday in a flourishing garden.

I’ve found one of the most incredible facets of community gardens is they way that they generate cooperation. By their very nature, community gardens foster a sense of empowerment within a community. People are obliged to share basic common resources, specifically land, water, tools, plants, food, meals, knowledge etc. Community gardens save families money on food and for the majority of people who do not own property, or have access to gardening space, it makes a significant financial difference not to mention it provides a healthy and safe environment for recreation, exercise, social engagement and community spirit.

In our current state of continual environmental degradation, it is important for people to reconnect with the natural world so that our interest in protecting vital resources becomes an essential part of our lives. Community gardens cannot solve all of these problems, but they can certainly increase our awareness of the natural environment around us.

Community gardens also reduce council spending. Public spaces owned by the city must be paid for and maintained by the city. Whereas community gardens are maintained by volunteers and therefore cost very little in upkeep. Gardens naturally absorb rainwater, a function that pavement is rapidly destroying. Gardens help clean our air, something especially necessary in the city. They bring people together by providing a space to share culture, knowledge, food and art. Gardens have been proven time and time again to significantly reduce crime, violent and anti-social behaviour within communities.

I took this excerpt from - A Handbook of Community Gardening p. 10, it is a good summary of how community garden fit into the human struggle for freedom and prosperity,
“Community gardening is a part of a serious struggle, the struggle to redistribute basic resources to people who will use them wisely and with respect for the general good. Community gardening is a small but serious challenge to many current policies and practices. It challenges the economically and ecologically destructive policies of agribusiness and local politics, which put profit before human needs—greenery, open space, fresh food. Community gardening challenges the social and economic structures that keep a vast number of urban and rural people from owning land and from gaining a small measure of control over their lives.”
Organic food grown in a community garden is also much higher quality than you can buy at a supermarket. Farmers today can grow two to three times as much grain, fruit, and vegetables on a plot of land as they could 50 years ago, but the nutritional quality of many crops has declined. Author and food expert Brian Halweil states: “Less nutrition per calorie consumed affects consumers in much in the same way as monetary inflation; that is, we have more food, but it’s worth less in terms of nutritional value.”

According to the report, Still No Free Lunch, food scientists have compared the nutritional levels of modern crops with historic, and generally lower-yielding, ones. Today’s food produces 10 to 25 percent less iron, zinc, protein, calcium, vitamin C, and other nutrients. Researchers from Washington State University who analyzed 63 spring wheat cultivars grown between 1842 and 2003 found an 11 percent decline in iron content, a 16 percent decline in copper, a 25 percent decline in zinc, and a 50 percent decline in selenium.

Improving the nutritional quality of food on a per-serving basis is an important step in addressing worldwide health problems, the report notes. “Less nutrient-dense foods, coupled with poor food choices, go a long way toward explaining today’s epidemics of obesity and diabetes,” says The Organic Center’s chief scientist, Charles Benbrook.

Plants cultivated to produce higher yields tend to have less energy for other activities like growing deep roots, generating phytochemicals - health-promoting compounds like antioxidants - the report explains. Conventional farming methods, such as close plant spacing and the application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, often cause crops to absorb fewer nutrients and have unhealthy root systems and less flavour, and sometimes make them more vulnerable to pests.

Organic farming methods, on the other hand, use manure or cover crops to provide nutrition to crops, have more balanced mixtures of nutrients, and tend to release the nutrients more slowly, the report explains. This means plants develop more robust root systems that more aggressively absorb nutrients from the soil profile, and produce crops with higher concentrations of valuable nutrients and phytochemicals. Organic food may have as much as 20 percent higher nutritional content for some minerals, and 30 percent more antioxidants on average.

Now that sounds like value for money! Or more accurately value for time. Anyone who wants to create a better world (a world where your kids won’t have to worry about the extinction of their species) needs to get involved in their local community garden. All revolutionaries should grow and teach others to grow food. It will increase the striking power of our poorest workers and unify our communities.

Read more @ Grow Together

Shane M., SA

Monday, February 06, 2012

Aotearoa is not for sale

Charter Schools.
Crafar Farms.
Deep Sea Oil Drilling by Petrobas off the East Coast.
Wharfies facing the sack as Ports Of Auckland gears up to privatise.
And now no Treaty when it comes to selling off Public Assets.

New Zealand is for sale. Come to the Socialist Forum this Thursday to begin organising the fightback to defend Aotearoa. Invite friends to the Facebook event HERE.

Guest speakers:

Blogger Bomber Bradbury and historian Chris Trotter.

7pm this Thursday, 9 February at Unite.

Hosted by www.socialistaotearoa.org

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Gigi Ibrahim speaks on One Year of Egypt's Revolution

"A year after our glorious revolution and it's only getting started..revolution until victory 25 Jan 2012"

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Nigerian fuel subsidy rebellion

In an interview with the BBC Professor Tam David-West, the former Petroleum Minister, said that the planned removal of fuel subsidy will “squeeze the economy, increase inflation, hurt businesses and the public”.

The people of the African country of Nigeria have a long history of struggle against capitalism, dating back to when it was first introduced in colonial times by the British imperialists. Their struggle has continued both within and beyond the border, but in recent years the continuation of the oppression has been tolerated less and less, most recently due to the proposed removal of the fuel subsidy by the countries governors – the People’s Democratic Party, headed by Goodluck Jonathan.

This party is anything but democratic – since 1999, they have racked up an appalling human rights record with reports of torture and dismemberment, destroyed civil liberties such as same-sex relationships by punishing the victims of said law with up to 5 years in jail, slashed funding to the public sector (especially to health and education services) as well as privatised, casualised and deregulated almost everything state-owned. They have pedalled their thoroughly neo-liberal agenda to a people who have never, and will never, accept capitalism complacently in a sick attempt to satisfy them with less than they deserve, and it has shown through the Nigerian people's struggle in the past few weeks.

Though problems have been rampant since their election, the origins of the fuel-subsidy crises can be linked to the release of the People’s Democratic Party budget, released on Tuesday, 13th December, 2011. The parties plan did not include any funding for fuel subsidies what so ever – a cold turkey removal of what little welfare state aid the PDP has left available to the public. Though it has always been a controversial topic, state-provided statistics showed that around 80% of all Nigerians opposed the removal of a fuel subsidy.

Ignoring the statistic provided to him, Jonathan gathered the Nigerian national assembly on 1st January, 2012 and announced his plan to oust the fuel subsidy, as was expected by the local media.

There was a mass outcry - people in the street, people in their homes, at restaurants: everywhere people were talking about the latest move with anger and despair. In an interview with the BBC Professor Tam David-West, the former Petroleum Minister, said that the planned removal of fuel subsidy will “squeeze the economy, increase inflation, hurt businesses and the public”. But Goodluck Jonathan did nothing but ignore his people.

Protests were called, demonstrations held and nationwide strike campaigns were launched. The government proved themselves to be weak and faltered after only five days of general strike, with the announcement of the partial-restoration of the subsidy to the pump-price of 97 Naira per litre.

Although the people of Nigeria have their fuel subsidy partially back, we know that for today’s neo-liberal, rightwing conservative parties, nothing is sacred. The attacks on the welfare state will undoubtedly resume, and will be harsher with each renewed push, eroding what little real freedom we have left. The destruction of social democracy is a phenomenon that is consistent with capitalism, and those on the right and the fake-left seem to have it in for all workers. They tell us that their agenda cannot progress without this or that being removed, but the people of Nigeria have set an example for us all. We will fight those who wish to see us gone wherever they may be, and wherever we are there will be RESISTANCE.

-George M. SA