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Friday, February 05, 2016

Against this System, a Real Choice rises.

Despite the doomsayers on the Right, Left and in the Media,  the city of Auckland was shut down by non violent direction action on February 4th 2016 as the TPPA was being signed.  A strategy of tension, predicting "violence" and condemning radical groups such as Real Choice, did not deter a movement of 2,000 or so people from marching on Skycity and blockading the TPPA ceremony.  The support given to the Blockade from a wide spectrum of activist groups shows there is now a vibrant, extra parliamentary, radical movement in Auckland searching for streetwise strategy and a stronger, anticapitalist politics.  The canny and creative activist leaders of Real Choice are to be applauded for their superbly coordinated action on the day. 

This is not the time to forget those who attacked this movement and wished it ill. Chris Trotter wrote-

"Real Choice’s stated intention of “shutting down the surrounding area and stopping entry by blocking some surrounding roads – effectively creating a TPPA free zone” completely ignores the fact that the signing of the TPPA, featuring the representatives of twelve nations, is already the subject of a major security operation. The idea that anyone is going to be permitted to block roads or stop entry is simply delusional."

He then went on to say-
"This will be done not because the group represents an actual threat to the signing ceremony, but simply because, through its actions, Real Choice has provided New Zealand’s security apparatus with a golden opportunity to “test drive” its new powers and resources. (Always assuming that Real Choice is not what’s known as a “false flag” operation: a group set up by the security services themselves - often to establish a case for government to give them even more powers and resources!)
Real or fake, Real Choice has delivered to John Key exactly what he was hoping for by staging the TPPA signing ceremony at Sky City. In doing so it has placed at jeopardy all of the work done by Jane Kelsey and Barry Coates at “It’s Our Future”. Entirely parasitic to the mass movement others have created, this tiny group has embarked on a course of action that threatens to undermine what tens-of-thousands of New Zealanders have researched, argued, organised and marched for."

Today, he quotes Mario Savio, radical 60s student leader-
" Tribute is also due to Real Choice. By their extraordinary actions throughout the morning and afternoon of 4 February they proved just how sterile theoretical debates about tactics and strategy can be. Somehow, in growing older, I had forgotten the words of the young student activist, Mario Savio, spoken 50 years ago on the steps of Sproull Hall at the University of California’s Berkeley campus. In my teens and twenties I had sworn by them, and, to my older self, they certainly bear repeating:

There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all."

 No, Chris, not this time. You deliberately stoked the Strategy of Tension and lied about people you knew. The French would generously call you a Soixante huiter.   Some in Auckland may now call you an 81er. Take your apology and go slither back under a microbrewery rock.  And here's a quote for you when you next ponder infantilism on the left.
 "It is not difficult to be a revolutionary when revolution has already broken out and is in spate, when all people are joining the revolution just because they are carried away, because it is the vogue, and sometimes even from careerist motives. It is far more difficult—and far more precious—to be a revolutionary when the conditions for direct, open, really mass and really revolutionary struggle do not yet exist."

the Real Choice Blockade marches on the TPPA signing in Skycity
Hundreds of activists from all walks of life take direct action and put their bodies on the line
Inersectional politics-  all major junctions in the City Centre shut down.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Workers Voice- System Change not Climate Change

Unite Union's Joe Carolan talks to Christine Rose and Jeremy Randerson about workers and the environment, and a New Left that demands System Change, not Climate Change.
PLUS the Flag debate- down with the Butcher's Apron!

Social ecologist campaigner Christine Rose

Mana Movement Tamaki Makaurau Rohe chairperson Jeremy Randerson

Friday, January 08, 2016


The Waterfront industry has always had a begrudging acceptance of casuals or seagulls in the industry to fill the arms and legs shortfalls, but in recent times we are faced with employers who see this cancer as the norm and an opportunity to make a fast buck and not be hindered by organised labour.

What is a casual; Legal definition, a casual employee is an employee who works when and if needed, with no expectation of continuing employment. In my view they are working-class people who don’t have much opportunity in the workplace because of a number of things. The perfect prey for the greedy employers who carry very limited contingent liability when it comes to the employment of casuals. These are normally people who think they see a glimmer of hope in terms of permanency but it rarely eventuates.

This growth industry is huge. Let’s face facts.Casualisation is responsible for widespread substandard working conditions such as. No Superannuation, lowering wages, no holiday entitlement (normally built in employer drops hourly rate to compensate), no sick entitlement, no bereavement leave, unacceptable working hours, very limited workplace rights, the inability to question or organise for fear of reprisal, no decent notification and no redundancy or severance pay. No notification of termination or guarantee of re-employment.

Employees on Fixed Term contracts are in my view not much better off than their counterparts on a casual contract. Whilst they bathe in the glory of the conditions during the term of their document it soon comes to an end. Most if not all are very rarely offered extensions to this camouflaged term of employment. When you look at a Casual versus a Permanent the imbalance is despicable to say the least, one with all the benefits and a future, the other left to wallow in the scraps.

The down side for employers is quite obvious; A loss of business confidence the lack of job satisfaction, the suppression of innovation and huge impact on productivity. The medium and long term benefits are not there for employers who grab a quick buck over long term sustainability. Casual work would not have such negative effects if numbers in the workplace where limited and it was a short term bridge to better employment. Unfortunately in our industry this is not the case, casuals become entrenched and spend years trying to impress on employers they have value. I have even heard the term ‘Permanent /Preferred casuals’ used. What the hell is a permanent/preferred casual? I think it sums up the thinking of some of the employers.

Whilst I have to agree there are some employers in our industry that do have principles and pride by having the main core of their workforce as Permanents, it is becoming increasingly hard for them to survive. Ports in this country have company’s onsite that feed off the industry by tendering for contracts based on the 100% usage of casuals and this allows them to tender at hugely reduced costs that the above board companies can only dream of.

It might sound a win win for these predators but the reality is that any profit they initially make will be wiped out when more competitors with the same business ethics enter the Ports. The outcome is reduced wages no guarantees, no permanent jobs and we don’t have to look to far to see what impact this approach has had and is having in our Ports. It is not confined to one Port because the need to compete demands the lowest possible rates and casual flexibilities which drive other employers to soon start making demands on employees and our Union that are ridiculous.
It is hard to resist the line of thinking that these working-class people are treated pretty badly and are indeed the most vulnerable; it is the use of long term casualisation in our industry that needs serious attention from our Union. It has to be stemmed and controlled; this cancer is blooming out of control.

Another suggestion that grates is that casualisation is the price of progress and a condition for economic success and flexibility, well what an absolute crock. The only one in this statement that benefits is the bloody employer. Casuals don’t have economic success, how many of them are financially sound. Casuals don’t have flexibility or security; they grab what ever they can and are told when and how to work.

What allows a system like this to survive and cause no end of suffering to those it directly affects is the disorganisation of labour. It will take a massive struggle and strong leadership to overcome this growth industry and stop the exploitation by these greedy corporate bastards.We must constantly as a Union push to achieve unity in the workplace and break down the barriers that hold casuals back.


Dave Phillips, Socialist Wharfie.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Year's Honours- Hero of the People 2015.

The Socialist Aotearoa "Hero of the People" award this New Year goes to rugby star Sonny Bill Williams, 
for his services to Syrian refugees.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Poverty, Pedagogy, Precarity- Workers Voice radio - December 20th 2015

Workers Voice December 20- Joe Carolan talks to tertiary union activist Suha Aksoy, percarious worker-blogger Chloe Anne King and socialist campaigner Stephen Hassan  on issues from poverty to pedagogy in Aotearoa today. Also- from Star Wars to Class Wars- do we need a Rebel Alliance?

 tertiary union activist Suha Aksoy

 percarious worker-blogger Chloe Anne King

 socialist campaigner Stephen Hassan

Friday, November 27, 2015

People and Planet- We Need a Revolution.

If we want to stop Climate Change, we need to end, not reform, Capitalism. To do that will require a revolution. Today's Global day of action will demonstrate internationalism and people power as an alternative to parliamentary reformism and green capitalism. We stand in solidarity with French anti capitalists who will defy the State of Emergency to bring the movement onto the streets of Paris, against those governments who are destroying our world with War, greed and pollution.

 System change, not climate change.

-Socialist Aotearoa

Monday, November 23, 2015

The FIght for Migrant Workers in Auckland- Workers Voice Radio

FIGHTING FOR MIGRANT WORKERS RIGHTS IN AUCKLAND- Listen to Mexican refugee Diego Compa, Anu Kaloti from the Migrant Workers Association of Aotearoa and Sunny Sehgal , organiser for E tū talking about the exploitation of migrant workers in New Zealand to Joe Carolan on Unite Union's "Workers Voice" radio show.


The shout of ‘Whose streets? Our streets!’ never sounded better than on yesterday’s Hikoi for Homes from Glenn Innes to Orakei. It was a bleak day but even the vicious rain couldn’t dampen spirits or the sense of growing empowerment as hundreds of trade unionists, campaigners, activists and political party members defied a police appeal to ‘stick to the sidewalk’ on the 6km march. 

Historic change never came from sticking to the sidewalk; we were there to shout it loud, shout it proud: A home is a basic human right – and we want decent housing now. The march, organised by Child Poverty Action Group, brought together a number of campaigners and activists – among them First Union, Unite Union, Socialist Aoteaora, the Green Party, Labour Party, Auckland Action Against Poverty, Child Poverty Action Group and many other individuals - unified in the aim of securing decent housing, an end to state house sell-offs, and rent control. 
While good weather would have meant a larger march, the response of the public was indicative of the mood of many. Motorist after motorist beeped and yelled their support and gave our banners the thumbs-up. Because quite simply, people have had enough. The housing situation is a travesty; in August the Herald reported that the average Auckland home earned nearly $230 a day in the past year - about twice what the average worker made in their job.

 While the cost of housing is taking up more and more of our salaries, we’ve seen little in the way of pay rises or job security. Our poorest and most vulnerable are finding it increasingly hard to access – or remain in - state housing, more people are being forced to rent (with zero controls over how much rent can increase by), and housing for the poor, where it exists, is wholly inadequate. Last year saw the tragic death of toddler Emma Lita Bourne, which was attributed to the poor condition of her south Auckland home. 

And yesterday we were there to demand change. In the same spirit that put an end to zero hour contracts and that saw tens of thousands march against the TPPA in recent months, the march was vocal and strong in stating that housing is a right, not a plaything of market forces. At the end-of-march rally, Fa'anana Efeso Collins talked of the need to embrace the spirit of Jeremy Corbyn, to use our people power to claim what is rightfully ours.

 The march wasn’t the hugest of recent times, but it felt like a barometer of the political mood. There is a growing sense that if change is to come, it is to happen at grassroots level, that organising in our workplaces and communities is the only way to make our voices heard. The secrecy over the disastrous TPPA contract; the refusal of our leaders to act on climate change; the mean-spirited response to the plight of refugees coupled with attempts by the far right in Europe to scapegoat Muslims; the bankruptcy of capitalism worldwide, its inability to climb out of financial crisis and its insistence that the only way to defeat ‘terror’ is to unleash a terror of its own, killing thousands of civilians in the Middle East as it does so… all of these developments have had the cumulative effect of underlining just how little capitalism has to offer us.

 Yesterday is only the beginning of the fight. And not just for housing.

 Maria Hoyle, Socialist Aotearoa