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New Zealand

Confronting racism is key to realising working class unity and power



 
 

By Mike Treen 

February 9, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Working people need to confront racism, sexism and anti-immigrant prejudice if we are to be successful in uniting our class sufficiently to take on the huge power of the one percent – the super-rich owners of most productive wealth in society.

Migrant labour, exploitation and 'free' markets

 

 

 

By Mike Treen

 

October 27, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Currently, New Zealand has at least 150,000 people working on temporary work visas or as students with the right to work up to 20 hours a week or full-time when on vacation. Most of them have hopes of being able to transition towards permanent residence, yet official figures confirm only one in six is able to do so. Government policies have deliberately led to the creation of a huge pool of desperately vulnerable workers to help big business exploit them more effectively.

 

 

Immigration policy under “free market” economies are designed to keep working people down – not out. While mainstream politicians routinely resort to subtle (and not so subtle) racist smears on migrants, government policies actually facilitate further migration. Capitalist “democracies” love to have large segments of the working class with no, or very few, rights – and that is true for New Zealand as well.

 

Aotearoa/New Zealand: Unite Union's fast-food workers take on corporations and win!

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 Unite fast-food delegates at a national gathering on February 14 take time out to picket a McDonald's store to launch the campaign publicly.

By Mike Treen, Unite national director

May 18, 2105 -- Unite Union, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Workers in the fast food industry in Aotearoa/New Zealand scored a spectacular victory over what has been dubbed “zero hour contracts” during a collective agreement bargaining round over the course of March and April this year.

Mike Treen: SYRIZA victory in Greece a blow to austerity

Crowd at SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' victory speech, January 25, 2015. Photo by Vivian Messimeris/GLW.

By Mike Treen, director UNITE union (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

February 5, 2015 -- Daily Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The longer the SYRIZA government can survive and resist the better chance working people throughout Europe can act to remove right wing austerity governments and mobilise their own power through their unions and communities to create an alternative to the Europe of capitalism, recession and despair.

Aotearoa/New Zealand: The tasks before the left and labour movement

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By Mike Treen, Unite Union national director

September 28, 2014 -- Daily Blog -- Anyone on the left would have been disappointed at the result of the September 20 general election. There was an opportunity to win, but that got lost through a combination of factors. There were tactical decisions made by Labour Party, the Greens and Internet-Mana that contributed to the defeat. Each party needs to have a discussion on what those were.

However, the defeat was the product of objective conditions in the first instance.

Aotearoa/New Zealand: Corporate parties, media gang-up to defeat Internet MANA

Hone Harawira (centre) with John Minto (right).

For more on the MANA party, click HERE. For more on Aotearoa/New Zealand, click HERE.

By John Minto

September 22, 2014 -- Daily Blog -- It was always going to be a hard task for MANA party leader  Hone Harawira to hold onto his Te Tai Tokerau seat in the September 20 general election when the political establishment united in a coalition to defeat him and the chance for Internet MANA to bring more MPs into parliament.

From the outset Labour Party candidate Kelvin Davis announced he was going hard-out to win the seat despite any sane strategist realising at that stage that Labour would almost certainly need Internet MANA votes in a coalition of the left to change the government. Killing off MANA’s parliamentary representation would be a self-defeating strategy. However Davis was quickly backed up by several more of the party’s right-wing MPs such as Phil Goff and Chris Hipkins and then by Labour leader David Cunliffe.

Aotearoa/New Zealand: A history of the Unite Union

By Mike Treen, Unite national director

[All four parts of this series can be downloaded as a single PDF file here.]

June 27, 2014 -- Unite News, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- The following history was prepared as part of the contribution by Unite Union to the international fast food workers' meeting in New York in early May. Union officials and workers were fascinated by the story we were able to tell which in many ways was a prequel to the international campaign today.

* * *

Aotearoa/New Zealand: Fightback on the MANA-Internet Party alliance

MANA leader Hone Harawira (centre).

Statement by Fightback

June 10, 2014 -- Fightback, posted Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The decision by the MANA Movement to enter into a formal alliance with the Internet Party has drawn criticism from right and left. Fightback has voiced criticism of our own.

In our April 2014 editorial, we said that “Fightback opposes any close ties between the Internet Party and the MANA Movement.” We added: “Fightback also opposes MANA entering a coalition government with pro-capitalist parties.”

We argued that the Internet Party “is more or less a front for millionaire Kim Dotcom”, that the “Internet Party’s politics are extremely vague and no candidates have yet been revealed” and that “there is no sign that it represents a progressive force”.

We were wrong.

Aotearoa/New Zealand: Matt McCarten stuns friends and foes, joins Labour Party staff

Matt McCarten and David Cunliffe protest for workers' rights in 2010. Photo / Getty Images

Matt McCarten and Labour Party leader David Cunliffe protest for workers' rights in 2010. Photo: Getty Images.

March 4, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Long-time New Zealand left stalwart and leader of the militant Unite trade union stunned friends and foes alike with his sudden announcement that he is joining the staff of the New Zealand parliamentary Labour Party leader David Cunliffe.

Below Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal posts McCarten's final weekly column from the NZ Herald on Sunday, as well as a number of reactions from the NZ left.

Inequality will be the issue for 2014

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By Mike Treen, national director of the Unite union (New Zealand)

January 14, 2014 -- The Daily Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the permission of the author -- Everyone from the Pope Francis to US President Barack Obama is bemoaning the effect that inequality is having on the world today. It is even being blamed for the depth of the economic recession and the weakness of the current recovery because it is claimed that poorer people spend a larger portion of their income than the rich who save more and thus more equal income would help revitalise the economy.

Unite union leader on the struggle against climate change, and for socialism

Mike Treen on the picket line. If trade unions take up the challenge, they could become “the voice for a boldly different economic model, one that provides solutions to the attacks on working people, on poor people, and the attacks on the Earth itself".

By Mike Treen, national director of the Unite union (New Zealand)

December 2, 2013 -- Daily Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- The continuing pretense that world governments will do anything about climate change was exposed once more at the latest round of climate negotiations held in Poland November 11-22. This was the 19th round of annual negotiations.

It is 21 years since the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Emissions are 60-70% higher than they were then. Global warming has proceeded at an accelerating pace. As a great article by economic historian Richard Smith notes:

Aotearoa/New Zealand: John Minto for Auckland mayor -- 'We need a Kiwi socialism'

[Click HERE for more coverage of politics in Aotearoa/New Zealand.]

By Daphne Lawless

August 24, 2013 -- Fightback, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The latest opinion polls put John Minto – teacher, veteran activist and MANA movement candidate – in third place in the race for mayor of Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland, to be held on October 12, 2013. Why has John Minto decided to run for the most powerful urban office in Aotearoa/New Zealand? He hesitates for quite a long time before answering – he calls it “the hardest question”.

It’s certainly not a question of seeking the limelight. A recent interview in the NZ Herald by Michelle Hewitson focussed relentlessly on delving Minto’s personality – and bringing up what John calls “the wallpaper of history” about his 30-year activist career. So he seems quite relieved that Fightback is interested in his campaign’s politics.

New Zealand: Racist 'Pakeha Party' ignores history

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By Thomas Roud, Christchurch

July 29, 2013 -- Fightback -- A Facebook page for “The Pakeha Party” caused a stir in early July, quickly gaining more "likes" than any other political party in New Zealand. [Pākehā are New Zealanders of European descent.] While the founder, David Ruck, admitted that the idea was initially a joke between friends, the torrent of interest has resulted in an attempt to build a real political party based on rhetoric of "equal rights" for all New Zealanders.

The Pakeha Party illustrates the profound ignorance of history within our society, as well as an underbelly of racism which have both been emerging more frequently during the economic recession. While many have, quite rightly, pointed out that David Ruck is a complete buffoon, the popularity of his bigoted "joke" highlights a dangerous ideological tendency.

Historical illiteracy

New Zealand: Socialists plan fight back

By Liam Flenedy

June 19. 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- More than 50 people gathered in the Newtown Community and Cultural Centre in Wellington on May 31 and June 1, 2013, for the annual conference of the socialist organisation Fightback.

The sessions were filled with lively and respectful debate across a number of different perspectives within the left on national and international issues.

Fightback 2013 featured speakers from Fightback, the International Socialist Organisation (Aotearoa), the Socialist Party of Australia and the Australian Socialist Alliance.

The first panel session “Global context: Crisis, Imperialism, Fightback” set the tone for the conference — all speakers noting that the global capitalist system is still deeply in crisis and that the working class is being made to pay for it.

Discussion centred on the resistance to austerity in Europe and the rise of left parties such as SYRIZA.

Another key theme was the state of the Australian and New Zealand economies now that the Australian mining boom seems to be waning.

What might a socialist world look like?

November 29, 2012 -- Socialist Aotearoa -- Mike Treen, life-long socialist and national director of the Unite Union, describes what a socialist society might look like. 

Aotearoa/New Zealand: Mana, a movement of the people

Grant Brookes.

By Grant Brookes

November 7, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – The following talk was presented to a Socialist Alliance public meeting in Melbourne.

Tihei mauriora!
Ko Ranginui kei runga
Ko Papatūanuku kei raro
Ko nga tangata kei waenganui

Ko Grant Brookes ahau
Ko Helen toku mama
Ko Don toku papa
Na Ōtepoti ahau
Na Koterana oku tipuna
Ko nga kaimahi o te ao taku iwi.

When a Maori person rises to talk in formal occasions, they often announce their speech, with tihei mauriora! – translated literally, “sneeze of the life spirit”. It is then customary to recount one's ancestry and tribal connections. So I said, Ranginui the sky father above, Papatūanuku the earth mother below, the people in between. I am Grant Brookes. My mother is Helen, my father is Don. I am originally from Ōtepoti/Dunedin. My ancestors are from Scotland. Being Pakeha, or a New Zealand European, I have no Maori tribal connections, so I say, the workers of the world are my tribe.

Aotearoa/New Zealand: Call for international solidarity with Burger King workers

By Joe Carolan

August 24, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Workers employed by the Burger King fast-food chain, organised by the Unite Union in Aotearoa/New Zealand, are suffering a sustained union-busting campaign, and are now fighting back.

Burger King workers are the lowest-paid fast food workers in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Most are on the minimum wage, even some who have worked there for 15 years. Managers on salary are forced to work extra hours, and sometimes work for less than the minimum wage per hour. Many workers in Burger King are migrant workers, mostly from the Indian subcontinent. They face a bonded labour system. They are terrified of speaking out about mistreatment in case the company revokes their visa sponsorship .

Now the company has tried to bust their union, and is seeking an injunction stopping them from speaking to the media and conducting teach-ins in the community. Unite has taken the company to the Employment Authority, detailing the company's illegal anti-union activities, in a battle that is now shaping up to be the McLibel case of the South Pacific.

Unite union appeals to workers in other countries to organise pickets outside Burger King outlets in all the great cities of the world in solidarity with our fight.

Our fight is for the low-paid precarious workers.

Introducing the Robin Hood tax

Notes from a talk at Occupy Wellington on October 29, 2011, to coincide with the #RobinHood global march 

By Grant Brookes, Tax Justice Campaign (New Zealand)

The campaign for a Robin Hood tax began a little over 18 months ago with a little-noticed launch in London. Supporters from a handful of British charities, faith groups and trade unions projected images onto the Bank of England, in an effort to lobby the British government to introduce a new tax on banks to tackle poverty and climate change. Today, it has become a global movement.

It's easy to see why it has been taken up by large parts of the Occupy movement, which also began as a small gathering on Wall Street opposing US corporate greed and the role of the top 1% in dictating priorities in Washington. That too has now become a global awakening.

Occupy! More reports from the frontline: Wellington, Dublin, Canada, US cities


Nati at Occupy Wellington.

[Are you a participant in an Occupy action in your city or town? Please leave a report in the comments section below. For more activist reports on the Occupy movement, click HERE.]

Occupy Wellington

By Grant Brookes

October 20, 2011 -- UNITYblog

“Why are they protesting?” ask the baffled pundits on TV. Meanwhile, the rest of the world asks: “What took you so long?” -- Naomi Klein 

With comments like this, campaigning journalist Naomi Klein has captured the essence of the mushrooming movement against corporate greed which began on Wall Street. The movement is expressing the feelings of a global majority denied a voice in the media and in the corridors of power.

It spread to Aotearoa on October 15, when occupations began in Auckland, Wellington, Christchuch, Dunedin, New Plymouth and elsewhere.

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