Solidarity #16 – July 2011

July 3, 2011

Issue 16 - July 2011

Download issue in .pdf format (0.5MB)

The 16th issue of Solidarity, free newssheet of the Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement. Download the .pdf above, or click below to read the contents online.

 

Contents:

If you want to make sure you don’t miss an issue of Solidarity, you can subscribe to either the print or electronic version.

To subscribe to the AWSM announcements list, put your email address in the form on the top right of each page on our website, http://www.awsm.org.nz.

Subscribers will be sent .pdf copies of Solidarity each month, along with other publications produced by AWSM and ocasional information – we promise we won’t spam you with a ton of useless stuff though! The electronic copy is identical to the print version.

Or, you can subscribe to the print edition to receive a copy of Solidarity in the post. $8 for 12 issues. Mail a cheque to AWSM, PO Box 6387, Wellington 6141, or contact us to organise an alternative method of payment.


A tale of two protests: Don’t Cut Our Future and Queer The Night

June 26, 2011

In recent weeks Wellington has seen two sizeable protests. The first was held at Parliament on May 19th against the 2011 budget, while the second, on June 9th, marched from Waitangi Park to Cuba Mall to demand an end to queerphobia and transphobia.

Up to 1400 people gathered on Parliament lawn for the Don’t Cut Our Future rally, held on the afternoon that saw the launch of the budget by the National Government. The rally, organised by trade unions, was called to protest the cuts currently being imposed on workers and beneficiaries.

The crowd was mostly made up of union officials and members, despite being billed as a “community and union rally”. While the turnout was bigger than many expected, it still mostly failed to include the 80% of workers not in unions, beneficiaries and community groups who are also under attack. Union members were encouraged to attend during their lunch break, but it seems most chose instead to spend their only precious free time during the day elsewhere.

The crowd were addressed by a number of politicians, and many of the speeches gave it more of a feel of an election rally. Labour, desperate to pretend it would actually do things differently to National if it was in government, had their leader Phil Goff speak. This is the same Phil Goff who has always been consistently in favour of free-market capitalism, and the same Labour Party who oversaw the introduction of the anti-worker Employment Relations Act during their last term in government. Despite their claims, they are no friend to workers. This is further proven by their refusal to commit to repealing most of the cuts that the National Party is currently pushing through even if they somehow manage to get back into power after the November general election.

Comedian Jeremy Elwood was the rally MC, and spent almost as much time lampooning the Labour Party as he did National, suggesting that, like him, the Labour Mps were a part of the comedy festival. Unfortunately, the leadership of the Council of Trade Unions and most of the largest unions in the country don’t feel the same way, having openly declared their aim to get Labour re-elected. Many union leaders see their positions as stepping stones to becoming Labour MPs, such as Andrew Little, leader of the EPMU, New Zealand’s largest private sector union who will become a Labour MP after the election.

This symbolic and ineffective resistance by the unions is simply the next step following their capitulation when faced with the raft of new anti-worker proposals that were passed into law in late 2010. The 90 day fire-at-will bill, attacks on sick leave and reduction of union access to workplaces were some of the most serious attacks on our rights at work to take place in years, but union “opposition” was almost entirely limited to symbolic protests around the country. Workers in Christchurch, who are facing an even harder time due to the impact of the earthquakes, had even this symbolic level of opposition cancelled by the CTU.

As workers, we make everything in this country actually function. When we fight together, we have a huge amount of power. This power, if we truly took advantage of it, could force the Government to give in to our demands. The union leadership and the parliamentary opposition do not want us to recognise this. They want us to leave the fighting up to them – give them our votes and our union dues, and they’ll look after us. History shows, however, that they don’t have our interests at heart. No political party can represent us, we can only represent ourselves, together. That is one of the key lessons we need to learn – the struggle for better wages and conditions, for a better society, is our struggle. It does not belong to MPs or union leaders sitting in their cushy offices on their massive salaries. It is our struggle, and it must be fought by us.

This lesson was evident in the other recent protest, the Queer The Night march through central Wellington. The impetus for the march was a series of attacks on queer and trans people in central Wellington in recent months. In response, a group of queer and trans people got together to organise the march, inspired by the feminist Reclaim The Night marches that have taken place in various parts of the world, New Zealand included, for years.

Approximately 800 queer and trans people and their supporters took part in a loud march through the central city, culminating in speeches (including an open mic) in Cuba Mall. Speakers included a member of School’s Out, a high school support group for queer and trans youth; members of the Queer The Night organising group; Brooklynne Kennedy, a trans woman who spoke of her experiences of harassment; and Bill Logan, a long time gay rights activist who spoke of his involvement in the struggle around homosexual law reform in the 1980s. The march organisers continually stressed the fact that the march was not the end, but only the start of a long term fight against queerphobia and transphobia, and they have already organised two follow-up meetings to help plan a long term strategy to continue this struggle.

The Queer The Night march was an excellent example of self-organisation by a group that suffers discrimination in almost every sector of our society – many queer and trans people are oppressed in their homes and schools, in their workplaces, on the street and even by those who claim to be their friends. Two and a half decades after homosexual acts were removed from the Crimes Act, queer and trans youth are still fighting for their ability to live their lives as they see fit.

The marchers were predominantly under 30, with some even attending in their high school uniforms. While the experience and contribution of older queer and trans rights activists is a vital aspect of the struggle, the comparative youth of the Queer The Night participants shows that the issues faced by queer and trans people in this country will continue to be fought until they are overcome once and for all.

Queer The Night meetings to plan future activities are held on Thursdays at 7pm. Venue still to be confirmed, but email queerthenight [ at ] gmail.com or see the Facebook group for details.


Let’s Kill The Bill!

August 18, 2010

On Saturday August 21st, there will be nationwide rallies organised by the Council of Trade Unions against the Government’s proposed changes to employment laws.

Auckland: 1pm, QE2 Square (bottom of Queen St, opposite Britomart)

Wellington: 1pm, Civic Square

Christchurch: 1pm, Cathedral Square

Dunedin: 11am, Sunday 22nd August, Assemble at Dental School, Great King Street, March to rally at the Octagon

Below is the text of a leaflet produced by AWSM for these rallies and the struggle to defeat these laws. It is made to go along with an earlier article, Workers Set To Face More Attacks, which contains more details about the proposed changes themselves.

You can also download a .pdf version of the leaflet, designed to print out on double sided A5. Click here to download it (126kb).

Let’s Kill The Bill!

Like most of us, you too are probably overworked and underpaid. We slave away for 8 (or more!) hours a day, only to head home and find that we don’t have enough money to pay for the things we need to live an enjoyable life. Unfortunately, the Government is now proposing changes to employment law which will only make things worse! If the changes go through, we will all face a future with more unemployment, even less job security, less days off in both sick and annual leave, lower pay and all the stress and frustration that goes with all of that.

But it’s not all doom and gloom – together, we have a huge amount of power as workers and, if we can work collectively and exercise that power, we can not only defeat these proposed law changes, but also improve significantly on the status quo!

All over the country, people have been out on the streets marching and rallying against these attacks on workers. But while mass protests on the streets are worthwhile, they will not be enough to roll back these proposed changes on their own. Mass action, like the hundreds of thousands that protested in the street against the introduction of the Employment Contracts Act in 1991, is ignored by those in power when it suits them. We need to take strike action and hit bosses where it really hurts — their profits.

The Council of Trade Unions is organising protests and probably a nationwide stopwork in October, however we need to go well beyond that if we are to have any chance of stopping these law changes. We need real resistance run by the workers ourselves, not rhetoric and symbolic action. Likewise the Labour Party, which implemented a ban on solidarity strikes and political strikes when it introduced the original Employment Relations Act while it was last in power, is primarily concerned with managing capitalism rather than supporting workers. This means that when push comes to shove, the Labour Party will side with the bosses and make workers suffer – as was most clearly demonstrated during the 1980s when the Lange government introduced the most sweeping right wing reforms this country has ever seen.

What follows are some further ideas for collective resistance to these anti-worker laws.

We need to take industrial action against the bill where possible. This action can be legal or not. If you are not in negotiations, and thus cannot strike legally, push to open up negotiations for variations to your contracts to oppose the proposed laws. In that way, you open up space for legal strike action. Or push for unofficial strike action, like taking a mass sickie at your workplace on the day of the stopwork or protests against the bill. We need to build on these actions, and push for more national stopworks and strike action to defeat the bill.

If you can build a strong supportive culture with your workmates, you can create a situation where action can be taken even when outside the legal restrictions. Support others’ struggles too – we are all in this together, and that means that we need to support and encourage each other to the best of our ability. Ensure that all action is controlled by the workers taking it, not by union officials who are removed from the shop floor and don’t have the same interests as us.

The new laws will make us work more for less pay. We want more pay for less work. We oppose any deals or laws linked to increases in productivity and work hours (such as reducing our leave or ability to take sickies). The bosses already steal countless hours of our lives and countless dollars from our pockets, they certainly don’t deserve even more!

If, at the end of the day, these laws do pass, we need to plan to make them unworkable. Any boss considering firing someone under the 90 Day Bill should know that if they do, they will have pickets outside their business. Likewise for those employers who pressure workers into giving up their 4th week of annual leave. Bosses need to be taught that they cannot use these new laws without there being negative consequences for their profits.

One way to do this is to get involved in creating a network of militant workers in your area. This network could organise the above pickets. It could coordinate action and solidarity to support and encourage those taking industrial action and to resist any repercussions on those going beyond the law. If you are interested in being involved in a network like this, please contact us below.

We want to dump not only these new laws, but the whole sordid Employment Contracts/Relations Act era which has strangled workers’ ability to strike, thus delivering massive profits to capitalists. In the end, there is no such thing as pushing for fairness at work. The capitalist system is at its heart exploitative, and all bosses are exploiters, even the ‘nice’ ones. Ultimately, we need to get rid of the whole exploitative system and bring in a classless, stateless society whereby we freely co-operate to meet our collective needs rather than be wage-slaves for the profit of a few.

This leaflet was produced by the Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement (AWSM), a national organisation working towards a classless, stateless society: anarchist-communism. As class-struggle anarchists our priority is active involvement in workplace struggles and industrial action as well as community based campaigns in our neighbourhoods. We encourage working class people to organise themselves against capital and the state. We do not seek to paternalistically organise people from the top down.


Interview with Save 198 Free Youth Health Centre campaigner

April 10, 2010

In Christchurch, the 198 Free Youth Health Centre is set to close its doors on April 30th. Over 4000 10-25 year olds are registered with the service as their primary doctor, while in 2009 nearly 15,000 people walked through the doors to make use of the free GP, counselling, family planning, sexual health, alcohol and drug services and more. The centre, which has been operating for 15 years, has been an indispensable tool in ensuring the health of many of Christchurch’s young people. 198 has received comments from many of its patients to the effect that if it had not existed, they would not have sought help anywhere else. This sobering thought only further underlines how important it is that 198, and other services like it, find the funding it needs to ensure its survival.

Below is a video interview with Cody, one of the youth involved in the campaign to save 198. If you don’t see the video, click here to watch it on Youtube.


Solidarity Issue #3 out now! Free newssheet by AWSM

May 14, 2009

Issue 3 - May 2009Download issue in .pdf format (1.23MB)

The third issue of Solidarity, free monthly newssheet of the Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement. Download the .pdf above, or click below to read the contents online. This issue has a special feature on May Day, international workers day.

Contents:

If you want to make sure you don’t miss an issue of Solidarity, you can subscribe to either the print or electronic version.

To subscribe to the AWSM announcements list, put your email address in the form on the top right of each page on our website, http://www.awsm.org.nz.

Subscribers will be sent .pdf copies of Solidarity each month, along with other publications produced by AWSM and ocasional information – we promise we won’t spam you with a ton of useless stuff though! The electronic copy is identical to the print version.

Or, you can subscribe to the print edition to receive a copy of Solidarity in the post. $8 for 12 issues. Mail a cheque to AWSM, PO Box 6387, Wellington 6141, or contact us to organise an alternative method of payment.


Rembrandt Suits picket in Wellington

December 7, 2008

Workers from Rembrandt Suits held a picket on Saturday 6th December outside the Kirkaldie & Stains department store in central Wellington after receiving a pitiful offer from Rembrandt bosses.

The workers, skilled and experienced machinists (one of whom has worked for the company for 20 years) are currently on the minimum wage and are asking for $13.50 / hour. They have been offered only a 24 cent increase, which would take them to $12.24. Most of the workers require Government subsidies just to survive.

Recently, almost half the workforce at Rembrandt were made redundant (some “voluntary”, some not), meaning those workers left will be required to absorb much of the work once done by those colleagues.

The workers are unionised by the National Distribution Union (NDU), who are asking supporters to contact Rembrandt Managing Director David Lyford to tell him to stop being such a miser. You can reach him at (04) 567 4820 or on lyfordD (at) rembrandt.org.nz

If you can’t see the embedded video, click here.

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Global day of action against state terror in Aotearoa / New Zealand

October 1, 2008

Just wrote this for the next issue of the Earth First! Journal, based in the USA.

Global day of action against state terror in Aotearoa / New Zealand

Demonstrations and protests were held around the world on August 30th for the global day of action to ‘Drop the Charges’ against the 20 people arrested in the nationwide State Terror Raids of 15 October 2007 in Aotearoa / New Zealand.

On Monday, October 15th 2007, more than 300 police carried out dawn raids on dozens of houses all over Aotearoa / New Zealand. Police claim the raids were in response to ‘concrete terrorist threats’ from indigenous activists. The reality, however, included heavily armed police terrorising an entire township. To date, no evidence of the so-called terrorist plot has been revealed.

Police arrested 16  indigenous, anarchist, environmental and anti-war activists, including Tuhoe, Te Atiawa, Maniapoto, Nga Puhi (all Maori iwi, or tribes) and Pakeha (non-indigenous) people (a further person faced unrelated drugs charges stemming from a raid on his house). Police wanted to charge 12 people under the Terrorism Suppression Act (TSA), however the Solicitor-General denied the police permission to proceed. After four weeks in jail everyone was released on bail. On Tuesday, February 19th 2008, police raided further properties, arresting 3 more men. All were released on bail with strict conditions that same day. A woman was arrested on Thursday April 17th, 2008, and also faces charges under the Arms Act.

The 20 arrestees face hundreds of charges of illegally possessing firearms and molotov cocktails. This is despite the face that only a handful of weapons (many legally owned and registered) were found during the extensive police raids, while many of the firearms people have been charged with possessing have never been proven to even exist.

On a cold and miserable day, the cries of “No More Police State!” echoed through central Auckland’s as over 200 Maori, trade unionists and left wingers joined a rally to defend the Urewewa 20, and remember the State Terror Raids of October 15th last year. Images and Sounds were projected against the court house in support of the Global Day Action. International indigenous support was present with First Nations manuhiri (guests) from Turtle Island (Americas). 150 people went on a lively march through the capital city, Wellington, and stopped at the police station for a shaming history of their violence, and a pass-by of Labour Party candidate Grant Robertson’s office nearly resulted in a very large broken window.

Overseas, banners were hung and fliers were handed out in Hamburg, Freiburg and Berlin (Germany), Basel and Lausanne (Switzerland), the Congo and Melbourne (Australia) in support of the call to drop the charges. Fundraisers and awareness raising events were also held in Vancouver (Canada) and  Tucson (USA). Many international groups also signed on to the solidarity statement prepared by the October 15th Solidarity collective, which can be seen at http://october15thsolidarity.info/en/node/332

Court Update

September 1st  saw the start of the depositions hearing, a pre-trial hearing where the crown presents its evidence and the Judge rules on whether there is enough for the charges to proceed to trial. At the time of writing, this hearing (now into its fifth week) is still ongoing, and it is still unclear what the outcome will be.

Early in the hearing, the judge issued extensive suppression orders, making it illegal (potentially punishable by an indefinite jail sentence and/or an unlimited fine) to discuss anything that is said or occurs inside the courtroom – this includes media (corporate and independent), public talks, leaflets and anything else you can imagine.

During the course of the hearing, Police have conducted an intimidation campaign against the arrestees and their supporters. On September 9, one of the arrestees and his partner were arrested, after Police accused the arrestee of scratching the car of Aaron Pascoe, the lead officer in the raids. Both were bailed after several hours in the cell (and face charges of wilful damage, assaulting police and resisting arrest), however the partner was not allowed to breast-feed her young baby while she was in the cells for over 4 hours.

More background information on the raids and the issues surrounding them, regular updates on the court hearings and information on how you can show your solidarity with the arrestees is available at http://www.october15thsolidarity.info


Thousands gather in solidarity with October 15th arrestees and against the Terrorism Supression Act

December 2, 2007

A feature I wrote for Indy…yesterday at E Tu was fun, incredible weather…

Thousands gather in solidarity with October 15th arrestees and against the Terrorism Supression Act

Over 2000 people gathered today in Wellington for E Tu, an all day event with bands and speakers, in solidarity with those arrested and raided on October 15th, and against the Terrorism Supression Act. Speakers included someone from Tuhoe, one of those arrested and imprisoned on October 15th, an MP, and other Tino Rangatiratanga and social justice activists. Bands like Little Bushman, Olmecha Supreme and the Klezmer Rebs entertained the diverse crowd for the 7 hours of the event. [ Photos ]

Protests also took place today in Auckland and Hamilton – if you attended one of these, please post reports and photos here on Aotearoa Indymedia.

A new website has been launched “in solidarity those affected by the recent ‘anti-terror’ raids in Aotearoa/New Zealand.” October 15th Solidarity offers news and analysis of the raids and aftermath, support groups across Aotearoa and more.

The cases under the Arms Act for all 16 arrestees will be back in court on Monday 3rd, where matters such as continuing name and image supression for some of the arrestees will be discussed. There will be a rally outside the Auckland District Court from 10am.

Links: October 15th Solidarity | E Tu | Te Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe | Civil Rights Defence


Our World Is Not For Sale protest video

October 3, 2007

If you don’t see the embedded video below, click here.


Happy Valley train blockaders in court

September 17, 2007

In late April 2007, two Save Happy Valley activists locked on to train tracks in Christchurch to stop a coal train from reaching Lytellton Port. After several hours, they were removed and arrested, and a third activist was also arrested and charged with “communicating with a prisoner”.

On Friday September 14th they appeared in court, and this is what happened. If you can’t see the embedded video below, click here. Hi-res version coming soon.

For more info, see www.savehappyvalley.org.nz


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