Sunday 20 April 2008

NZ jobs must come before free trade

RAM - Residents Action Movement Media release 17 April 2008 "It is obvious that free trade is devastating New Zealand's manufacturing sector and its jobs," said Oliver Woods, co-organiser of RAM - Residents Action Movement. "The latest casualties have come with Fisher & Paykel's decision to close its plant in Dunedin as a consequence of New Zealand's free trade deals with China and Thailand. The corporation will relocate the work overseas to low-wage economies that return higher profits to an already-profitable business that made $61 million after tax last year. " "The NZ government signs a free trade deal with the dictatorial Chinese regime and then stands idly by as Kiwi families struggle with job losses and rising food prices. Meanwhile hardworking taxpayers fund cabinet ministers going on cocktail-fueled free trade missionary expeditions to distant capitals. There is something wrong with this picture!" said Mr Woods. "Workers are caught between the big corporations like Fisher & Paykel who put greater profits before job security, and the big political parties like Labour and National that worship at the altar of free trade, the almighty dollar and radical free market economics. Fisher & Paykel's behaviour is an indicment on the corporate politics of this country!" "RAM stands with the workers who are going to lose their jobs in Dunedin, and their families and their community who are going to suffer with them. New Zealand must put people before profit, and allow workers the dignity of stable, well-paid jobs," said Mr Woods. For more information, contact: Oliver Woods Co-organiser of RAM - Residents Action Movement 021 072 4647


Fatal Paradox said...

I venture to suggest that contrary to RAM´s analysis the problem is not free trade at all but capitalism, which will always seek to maximise profits whether it in its classical liberal or protectionist Keynesian form. Rather than promoting the retention of import controls and tariffs surely we would be better off supporting workers threatened with redundancy to occupy their workplaces and expropriate the capitalists!

Daphne said...

But Tim, you're arguing not with RAM's actual analysis, but what you assume is RAM's analysis. Where in the RAM press release does it support protectionism? Or are you just assuming that's what RAM is advocating because you have prior assumptions about what kind of force RAM is?

Anyway - tell you what, you set up a stall at the Mangere shopping centre calling on the Fisher & Paykel workers to occupy and expropriate, and see if you can make it happen. If you can, you can be sure at least some RAM supporters will be there to help you.

Fatal Paradox said...

The RAM press release blames the recent wave of job losses on a *specific government policy* (free trade) as well as "corporate greed". By implication therefore all that is required to remedy the situation is to change the policy (i.e. return to the protectionist status quo ante) and persuade the corporates to be less "greedy". No need to worry about challenging the capitalist system then!

It's important for socialists to tell the truth and not patronise workers - even if workers cannot be persuaded of our arguments for why simply opposing free trade and asking the bosses to be a little more compassionate doesn't cut the mustard - we still need to be honest and explain that militant direct action is actually the only possible solution to their problems.

That's why you'll find Workers Party members out on the streets over the coming weeks (including in the areas most affected by the recent job losses such as Mosgiel) calling on workers to occupy all businesses threatened with closure and mass redundancies.

It may not win us mainstream respectability or lots of votes, but it is the only logical outcome for anyone who claims to uphold Marx's economic analysis. I would genuinely hope that Socialist Worker members involved in RAM will see things the same way.

Comrade Alastair said...

I will personally be heading over to the Mosgiel factory to talk about things with the workers there, and put forward the idea of militant action.

I can't say whetehr or not we'll achieve anything much, but it's a damn sight better than legitimising the claims of F&P, and the rest of the NZ capitalist class, that these redundancies are caused by the free trade deal and a high dollar, not them shipping the jobs off to countries with cheaper wage costs.

Will SW and RAM ever tire of watering down their politics to try and gain more votes? It's not like it's worked that well for them (RAM lost it's one councillor in the last elections, and VAN did worse than the WP candidate Nick Kelly, who was running on an openly revolutionary socialist platform).

Pretty soon, all they're going to have left politically is water.