Showing posts from May, 2013

Understanding the Bangladesh Factory Collapse

In this article Ingrid discusses the Rana Plaza collapse, explores the history of industrial accidents and the concurrent rise of trade unionism and argues that the Rana Plaza collapse as well as being an awful tragedy is a unique opportunity to push for trade union rights in Bangladesh.

What happened? 
On the 24th April 2013 an 8 story building collapsed in Savar, Dhaka, killing 1,127 people and leaving 2,500 inured. This is one of the deadliest incidents in garment factory history, and the deadliest accidental structure failure. As investigations began to find out the causes of this fatal industrial disaster, it became all too clear that this could have been avoided.

The factory in question was located within the Rana Plaza complex, and manufactured clothing for popular brands like Mango, Primark and Walmart. The Plaza was originally built 4 stories tall, to house shops, banks and offices. The further four floors of the factory were added without a building permit, and were structur…

A message for Kmart


Their system is broken - It's time to get organised

More than 1100 mostly female clothing workers wiped off the face of the earth in Bangladesh. Crushed under the rubble of their factory which the day before they had been forced to work in, despite protests about cracks in the walls. The deadliest industrial accident in the history of the garment industry. We are hearing louder voices around the world demanding an eradication of unsafe sweatshops and enforced safety accords that hold multinational clothing retailers to account.

For the first time in human history the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is above 400 parts per million. Michael Mann, distinguished professor of meteorology at Penn State University has said, "We have to go several million years back in time to find a point in Earth’s history where CO2 was as high as it is now. ... If we continue to burn fossil fuels at accelerating rates, if we continue with business as usual, we will cross the 450 parts per million limit in a matter of maybe a couple of decades…

We support the fare dodgers

Auckland Transport is cracking down on fare dodgers on the rail network. Inspectors caught 113 people in one day and the council controlled organisation is hoping new legislation will in June allow it to begin dishing out $150 fines to dodgers.

Why are people not paying their fares? Is it because they want to deprive the council of funds for new trains? No, of course not. Many people genuinely cannot afford to pay as public transport fares soar year in and year out.

Rather than address the rising cost of living and workers and students genuine inability to pay for the cost of moving around the city the council is instead making it even harder for us to live.

Fuck that. We support free public transport in New Zealand. Not just to ease the pressure on working people and students already struggling with rising food, gas, rent, electricity prices and unemployment but to give people an alternative to using their cars. Less cars = less greenhouse gas emissions and less air pollution in Auc…

What would a socialist Aotearoa look like?


A community rebellion

On the morning of Saturday 11 May, 200 protesters gathered in Manurewa against a store selling synthetic cannabis drugs. The confrontrational protest united teachers and children, parents and Labour MP Louisa Wall against the selling of synthetic cannabis. [Stuff Report | Herald Video]

The protest comes as part of a massive wave of mobilisations across the country against the sale of these harmful synthetic cannabis products.

In Turangi locals are circulating a petition, Tokoroa has a one-woman campaign and Oamaru has seen dairy owners turn a water blaster on mums who have witnessed synthetic cannabis harmful effects. In Invercargill there are angry sounds from vets who have seen dogs poisoned. In Dunedin, an ex-synthetic cannabis addict is picketing those selling legal highs. These groups are mimicking the highly-successful community campaign led by parents and the community newspaper in the Auckland suburb of Devonport.

The nationwide uprising is a spontaneous surge of resistance t…

McStrike protest report and photos

Last night on Friday 10th May, McDonalds workers and their supporters held a picket outside the Britomart McDonalds store. Striking workers were joined by members of the Mana movement, university students, Socialist Aotearoa and the Meat Workers Union of Australia!

A group of about 30 people created a physical picket line across the two entrances of the store, holding banners and placards reading '25c wont pay the rent', and 'McStrike'.

 Unite has come out fighting in support of migrant and gay workers who have faced discrimination in their workplace. Workers have had their hours scaled back and faced threats of disciplinary action if they stand up for their rights. Managers at the Britomart store had told one young gay worker to stop talking so gay, and if he turned anyone else gay at the store he would be disciplined!

 Homophobic and discriminatory behaviour like this has no place in New Zealand workplaces! Last nights picket was well supported within the gay co…

McStrike: Interview with Unite delegate Sean Bailey

Sean Bailey is a Unite Union delegate at McDonald's who recently made international headlines after he was told not to act "gay" at work. Socialist Aotearoa talked to Sean before the story broke about organising at work.

What's the mood in your store?

Everyone is always different. But the majority do want better pay. For the job that they do is a lot more stressful and they think the money they are getting is not worth it.  They don't think the minimum wage is enough.

How are McDonald's workers organising to fight the company?

People are organising to sign up new members. And let people know that a stronger union presence in the store and the company makes the head office aware we won't tolerate low wages and forces them to listen to us. At the end of the day its the staff that makes the store operational not the bosses. Without the staff the company can't make any money.

Are we going to see strikes in the coming months?

Yes. People are angry about pay a…

Nakba - Auckland protest against Veolia

In the Arabic language Nakba means catastrophe. Nakba Day is marked by Palestinians every year on 15 May and remembers the 1948 war and the creation of the state of Israel which has left millions of Palestinians as refugees.

It is a day for resistance and protest and continuing the struggle for peace and justice in Palestine.

In 2011 on Nakba Day protesters, many Palestinian refugees spurred by the Arab Spring and the revolutions in the Middle East marched tens of thousands strong to the Israeli borders with Syria, Lebanon and the West Bank.

This year a demonstration organised as part of the international campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel will take place in Auckland targeting Veolia Transport.

Veolia Transport, in a French multi-national corporation which was awarded a contract to run Auckland's rail network on behalf of the council.

Veolia also runs train, bus and landfill services for the Israeli government in the occupied Palestinian territories.


Name the Date - Stop Work / Stop National

On Thursday 16 May the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) National Affiliates Council meets in Wellington. On their agenda will be the latest attacks on workers' rights being pushed through by National and the CTU's newly launched campaign Why Cut Our Pay.

The cuts are targeted attacks on specific unions. The removal of the obligation to collective bargaining will first be used to allow Ports of Auckland to break off negotiations with the Maritime Union and break down job security for hundreds of wharfies. The removal of collective agreement protections for workers in the first 30 days of their job is an attempt to further casualise the service and retail industry workforce and allow unfair dismissals of workers starting off. The attacks on multi-employer bargaining will be used against nurses to break up their nationwide collective agreement.

The CTU represents some 350,000 members in over 35 unions. It is the single biggest democratic organisation in the country and its members …

Why are we not allowed to fight our enemies?

In times of economic crisis, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the gap between the two increases. Why then, is it so hard for people to pick a side? It seems simple, either you support the rich getting richer at the expense of everyone else, the planet's biological and cultural diversity and now increasingly the climate as well. Or you support and defend the rights of working people to decent jobs, decent pay and a decent standard of living in a healthy environment. If you haven't decided which side you are on, you should.

Recently I've been having more and more conversations with well educated, intelligent, politically engaged students at Auckland University who seem unable not only to distinguish that there are two classes in struggle against one another but also who argue that we should not take any action without popular consensus. This argument is fundamentally flawed both logically and ethically.

Logically, if we accept the premise that we want to improv…