Tuesday 29 March 2011

What Sir Paul really meant to say was...

(See Expats asked to pay off student loans 'to help Christchurch', an idea of Sir Peter Callahan)

Dear educated smart refugees from privatisation, we are so sorry we stole all of those public assets in the 1980's and '90's and flogged them off for cents in the dollar. We regret spending all the money we were paid in bribes by our new owners on flash houses and cars which are now ruined. We are heart-broken that we ruined organisations like the Ministry of Works and the New Zealand Railways apprenticeship schemes that delivered thousands of skilled tradespeople into our economy smoothly and cheaply, year after year. Now we are faced with having to attract thousands of engineers and tradespeople whilst competing against the market rate for these skills paid elsewhere in the world, a problem that our low wages resulting from undemocratic non-unionised job sites makes harder still. We thought we had built everything we would ever need, so all you working types and your families could just live in poverty or leave the country. Our leader John Key smiles nicely, but hasn't a clue about anything except asset stripping and fleecing the workers, the poor and the sick. We need you to pay for the rebuilding of our economy so we can carry on lording it over you and telling you what to think.

Please send us your money. We are desperate!

- by Peter de Waal

London: half a million march against cuts

Statement by British Socialist Workers Party

Over half a million people took to the streets of London on Saturday. They were marching against the Con-Dem [Conservative / Liberal Democrats coalition] government’s cuts. It was one of the biggest protests this country has ever seen.

Monday 28 March 2011


Venue: Socialist Centre, 86 Princes Street, Onehunga, Auckland.

Friday 22 April

P U B L I C    M E E T I N G:

terminal 5
How Arab revolutions and unnatural disasters
fit with the five terminal crises of global capitalism

Speaker: Grant Morgan

7.00pm @ Socialist Centre, 86 Princes Street, 
Onehunga, Auckland.

Saturday 23 April

Conference start time: 9.00am

D R A F T   A G E N D A :

1. Theorising and popularising our analysis of capitalism’s terminal crisis

2. Broad ecosocialist network today, broad left party tomorrow

3. Election of new central committee

4. Tax Justice campaign

5. PUBLIC MEETING: Left unity in Aotearoa (4pm)
Public meeting open to all leftists on how we can progress greater left unity in New Zealand.

Evening social at the Socialist Centre. Shared food and drink.

If you would like to join Socialist Worker and attend our conference, please contact Vaughan Gunson, email socialist-worker@pl.net or phone 021-0415 082.

If you are going to attend one or both of the two public meetings open to all New Zealand leftists, please also contact Vaughan Gunson email socialist-worker@pl.net or phone 021-0415 082. Just so we can get an idea of numbers.

Updating Japan's Nuclear Disaster

by Stephen Lendman
from Countercurrents.org
27 March 2011

Japan's March 11 earthquake/tsunami-caused nuclear disaster affects millions of people regionally and throughout the Northern Hemisphere. But you'd never know it from most major media reports, downplaying an unfolding catastrophe.

In fact, distinguished experts like Helen Caldicott long ago warned of inevitable nuclear disasters, especially in seismically active areas. On May 23, 2004, The Japan Times contributor Leuren Moret headlined, "Japan's deadly game of nuclear roulette," saying:

"Of all the places in all the world no one in their right mind would build scores of nuclear power plants, Japan would be pretty near the top of the list."

"Japan sits on top of four tectonic plates....and is one of the most tectonically active regions of the world. (There) is almost no geologic setting in the world more dangerous for nuclear power than Japan."

Saturday 26 March 2011

Why We Revolt

When and how does the moment come when people stop believing in the power that has ruled them? When and how do ordinary people discover their own power?

Egyptian protester, photo by Kodak Agfa

A protester in Cairo during the uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak.
Photo by Kodak Afga
Revolution is as unpredictable as an earthquake and as beautiful as spring. Its coming is always a surprise, but its nature should not be.

Revolution is a phase, a mood, like spring, and just as spring has its buds and showers, so revolution has its ebullience, its bravery, its hope, and its solidarity. Some of these things pass. The women of Cairo do not move as freely in public as they did during those few precious weeks when the old rules were suspended and everything was different. But the old Egypt is gone and Egyptians’ sense of themselves—and our sense of them—is forever changed.

No revolution vanishes without effect. The Prague Spring of 1968 was brutally crushed, but 21 years later when a second wave of revolution liberated Czechoslovakia, Alexander Dubcek, who had been the reformist Secretary of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party, returned to give heart to the people from a balcony overlooking Wenceslas Square: "The government is telling us that the street is not the place for things to be solved, but I say the street was and is the place. The voice of the street must be heard."

But when exactly do the abuses that have been tolerated for so long become intolerable? When does the fear evaporate and the rage generate action that produces joy?

Friday 25 March 2011

GP&JA: protest at US consulate, 2pm Saturday

By Mike Treen
Global Peace & Justice Auckland Spokesperson

The bombing of Libya by the US, France and Britain has nothing to do with the plight of the people living under a brutal dictatorship.

The people of Libya are simply a convenient fig leaf for an attempt to reimpose control over the region by their former colonial masters.

Every military intervention by the US and its allies in recent decades has started as an alleged “humanitarian intervention to stop a brutal regime oppressing its people”. Yet every one of these interventions – from Somalia to Yugoslavia and Afghanistan to Iraq – has ended up in disasters for their own people with the death toll in the millions. The client regimes that were established are in all cases led by corrupt local warlords whose only distinguishing feature is that they are happy to sell of the resources of their peoples to their imperial masters.

Mark Steel: It’s Blair I feel really sorry for

By Mark Steel

Isn’t it marvelous that all these governments are determined to do "something" about Colonel Gaddafi? For example Hillary Clinton said she supported military action once the Arab League – made up of countries such as Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and Saudi Arabia – backed the air strikes. And it is encouraging that the policy of not tolerating a dictator has the backing of so many dictators.

Some people might suggest that one way King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, for example, might reduce the number of Arab dictators, would be to stop being an Arab dictator, but that’s because they don't understand how complicated these things can be.

Thinking About Reactions to Libya and Each Other

By Michael Albert

Thought One
Good, insightful people can have conflicting views about Libya, the Mideast, and North Africa, and the UN and U.S. role there.

Rather than flinging verbal daggers at one another until irretrievable splits permanently part us, can we disagree but also hear others and realize we may not be right? Can we even find a way to pursue the logic of our views, differences and all, in a shared agenda?

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Rally For Christchurch

Linwood Park
Saturday April 2
1 pm

This event, created by Action for Christchurch East, is for residents who want to get involved in the Christchurch recovery and want to help build local community networks. We’re tired of being talked to by politicians who leave us feeling that our concerns and opinions do not count.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

First Security strike against low pay

Union members at First Security took strike action on April 19 in support of 15 members from the company’s patrols division who were earlier locked out by the company after a two-hour strike for decent pay. 

Unite organisers joined staff picketing the company’s Mt Wellington head office. Representatives from the Amalgamated Workers Union and the National Distribution Union also attended to show their solidarity. 

Non-union staff and management who turned up for work found the exit was blocked by a placard-covered car which mysteriously appeared outside. The picketers were not intimidated by management claims that their action was illegal and calling the police. After discussion with organisers, management agreed to lift the lockout and to meet with Unite for further talks on wages. 

First Security guards begin on $13.52 per hour. The company was offering a three percent increase which would bring them to just $13.93. (The minimum wage is $13.00 from 1 April) Patrol staff want a minimum rate of $14.50 per hour which has been refused by the company. First Security is owned by Dutch multinational ISS. 

According to Unite organiser Barry Sutherland, “Already the pay rates for patrol staff at First Security are the lowest in Auckland. Many of the staff are migrant workers who are fearful of their employment and more easily cowed to accept low pay and long hours of work.” 

After the success of Saturday’s picket, these workers will not be so easily intimidated in future.

Attack on Libya aims to reassert Western dominance

By David
The Western powers now bombing Libyan are protecting their easy access to Libyan, Saudi and Gulf oil and their overall control of the Arab World, which they have dominated since Britain and France carved up the Turkish-dominated Ottoman Empire after World War One (1914-18).

The rise of Arab Nationalism after World War Two threatened Western control, but with the help of Israel (formed by Jewish settlers in what had been Palestine in 1948), the US was able to reassert Western control.

Now the structure of imperial domination has taken a huge hit from the uprisings, particularly the fall of Mubarak in Egypt. The US and its allies know they must do something to ensure that whatever new order emerges it will still be under their control.

That easy bit, for them, is backing the Saudi / Kuwaiti / UAE invasion of Bahrain, to ensure the revolution is crushed there and does not spread. The kings of Saudi Arabia and of the smaller Gulf states have been important US allies for decades, providing cheap oil, military bases and political support within the Arab world. For any of these regimens to fall to democracy would be a huge set back for the US.

The hard decision was deciding what to do in Libya. When he first came to power 1969 Gaddafi was inspired by the Arab nationalism and Chinese Maoism. But the nationalists had already been defeated by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967, after which it occupied Gaza and the West Bank, as well as large parts of Syria and Egypt.

Like Syria, Libya remained independent from the US, but anti-imperialist and socialist rhetoric masked brutal dictatorships. Over the last ten years Gaddafi has made his peace with the West, but he is not dependent on them, and therefore not a reliable ally.

Waging war, nominally in support of, and at the request of, the rebels is a golden opportunity for the West to relegitimise military attacks in the Middle East after the disasters of Afghanistan and Iraq. It also offers the possibility of a new government dependant on Western support controlling either part or all of Libya and its oil. Most importantly, it allows the West to assert some control in this vital part of the world.

Monday 21 March 2011

Bad To Worse In Japan

A major nuclear meltdown could spread radiation around the world and make cities uninhabitable forever. Humanity is truly dicing with death.

by Stephen Lendman
from Countercurrents.org
20 March 2011

It bears repeating. Government, industry, and major media reports downplay and deny Japan's unprecedented nuclear disaster, potentially able to kill millions now living and in future generations painfully.

Nuclear power is a real life Andromeda Strain. If uncontrollably unleashed, it's potentially able to destroy life worldwide under a worse case scenario.

In his latest article, nuclear expert Harvey Wasserman said "the most devastating thing about (Fukushima) is not what's happening there now. It's that until all the world's reactors are shut, even worse is virtually certain to happen again. All too soon." Fukushima, in fact, may be the nuclear nightmare he suggests.

Globally, 450 reactors operate, including 104 aging American ones, many with bad safety records caused by cost-cutting and shoddy maintenance. Poorly regulated, they're ticking time bombs, accidents waiting to happen, many plagued by near-meltdown misses.

Saturday 19 March 2011

Stop the War UK: UN Declares War on Libya


A new war has been declared in the Middle East. With the bloody and failing
occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan still in place, the USA, Britain and France
are now committed to an escalating armed intervention in Libya.

The decision to attack Libya and impose regime change – for that is what the
UN resolution means – may have been authorised by the Security Council. But
it was instigated by the despots of the Arab League, desperate to secure deeper
western involvement in the region to save them from their own peoples. And it
will be implemented by the same powers which have wreaked such mayhem
throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds over the last ten years and longer.

The imposition of a “no-fly zone”, air attacks on Libyan defences and
Gaddaffi’s troops, and naval bombardments will not bring peace to Libya nor a
resolution to the conflict there. 

They will, however, cost more civilian lives and they will set Britain and the
world on an escalator of military intervention which risks ending up with an
occupation of at least part of Libya.

While few people are admirers of the Gaadaffi regime, the experience of Iraq
underlines the dangerous futility of trying to impose “regime change” from
without. It also reminds us that genuine democracy and freedom cannot grow from
aerial bombardment and foreign occupation.

Attacking Libya and sponsoring the Gulf oligarchies’ invasion of Bahrain to
prop up the threatened monarchy there – under the noses of the US fifth fleet
- are of a piece. They represent a concerted effort by the western powers to
first control and then bring to a halt the Arab revolutions, leaving the
essentials of imperial power in the Middle East in place.

David Cameron’s decision to place Britain in the vanguard of efforts to
topple the Gaddafi regime is dictated by the same considerations which led Tony
Blair and Gordon Brown to embrace that same regime – a desire to maintain
BP’s profitable access to Libyan oil.

Stop the War believes that there should be no external military intervention in
Libya. In supporting the Arab revolutions, we believe that these will be
strangled, not supported, by western military action.

We call on the British government to keep its hands off the Middle East and
demand that it refrain from all involvement in military action in Libya or
elsewhere in the region. We urge the anti-war movement to campaign throughout
the country to arrest and reverse this slide to war and British participation
in it.

Revolutionary Hope and Change Across the 'Arab World'

By Gilbert AchcarGilbert Achcar is a Lebanese writer, socialist, and antiwar activist. He is also a professor of Development Studies and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, and author most recently of The Arabs and the Holocaust: the Arab-Israeli War of Narratives. In this interview, he discusses the significance of the ongoing revolutionary wave of mass protests occurring across the Middle East with one of the New Socialist webzine editors Ali Mustafa.

This Is An Arab 1848. But US Hegemony Is Only Dented

With western-backed despots being turfed out politics has changed for ever. So just how far can the revolution spread?

Source: The Gaurdian

Revolutionary murals on the walls of newly established toilet facilities for protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP

Friday 18 March 2011

Auckland: Solidarity with Bahrain’s revolution -- Saudi Troops Out!

The peaceful protestors at the Pearl Roundabout in Bahrain have again been slaughtered. A month ago, it was by their own Government. Now, it is with the support of foreign Saudi troops.

On Saturday 19th at 2pm, we will gather in Aotea Square, to listen to members of the Bahraini Community and their supporters, before we march to the Saudi Consulate.

Saudi Troops Out.
Down with the Bahraini Junta.
Power to the People
Victory to the Bahraini Revolution.

more info at- http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=188981107789270

Public letter from Bahraini protesters to Barack Obama

From  jadaliyya.com

[This is a public letter addressed to US President Barack Obama from by protesters in Bahrain under the name “Movement of 14 February.” The letter was circulated on March 15, 2011]

Mr President,

You certainly know about the Saudi and other gulf troops arriving to Bahrain to aid the government in clamping down the peaceful protesters. If you can find any legal, logical or ethical justification for this intervention, can you find any justification as well to them forming thugs attacking peaceful Bahrainis in their own homes and villages, killing them with live rounds, intimidating women and children in these areas, and boasting themselves with a "claimed" American green light!!

Mr President, having listened to your addresses in many occasions, we find it difficult to believe that you and the United States could stand by in such an inhumane and resentful situation that Bahrainis are witnessing today, for the simple sin of peacefully claiming civic, political and human rights. We urge you Mr. President to take a position that will be remembered by your own people as well as the Bahraini people and all peoples in this miserable region of the world.

We ask for a clear and firm stance from the US administration towards the ill-intentioned, arrogant and murderous actions of the Bahraini regime with the help of neighboring Gulf regimes.

This is the outcry of peaceful Bahraini protesters, and we heartily hope that it will meet your wise and just support.

Movement of 14 February

Zimbabwe treason trialists released on bail

By Ken Olende
from Socialist Worker UK

A Zimbabwean judge yesterday released on bail the six socialists facing the death penalty for watching a video on the Middle East uprisings.

The judge said that the state's case might collapse as it was "not a strong one".

The release is a major step forward—since their arrest the six have been tortured, denied medical care, held in solitary confinement and forced to work.

Pressure from an international solidarity campaign has been vital in influencing Robert Mugabe's repressive government. The bail is $2,000 US dollars for each of the accused, so their supporters have had to put forward $12,000. Please keep giving to the campaign.

The strict bail terms also demand the accused reside at certain defined addresses and report to the police three times a week.

Originally 45 people were arrested when police surrounded a meeting organised by the International Socialist Organisation on 19 February. The police stormed the meeting in Zimbabwe's capital Harare after they had watched a video about the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, and were holding a discussion. Of these 39 were later released without charge.

Zimbabwe: People who make dictators tremble

By  Sherry Wolf

First published at Sherry Talks Back.


The regime of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is intent on putting six socialists on trial for their lives--on charges of treason that carry a death sentence.

THE SLIGHT, soft-spoken woman now enduring beatings and medical abuse in Zimbabwe's Chikurubi Maximum Security prison arrived at my doorstep more than a decade ago with a severe limp.

Tafadzwa Antonater Choto (age 36), one of the six Zimbabwean activists facing charges of treason, is being tortured and facing a potential death sentence for the "crime" of organizing a viewing and discussion of video footage of the Egyptian revolution in Harare on February 19, 2011.

Thursday 17 March 2011

John Minto: Critical Decisions Ahead for Hone Harawira

from scoop.co.nz
15 March 2011

The poll results from Maori Televisions’ Native Affairs programme last night showing a third of Maori voters would consider voting for a Hone Harawira-led political party should not be a surprise to anyone.

Neither should it be surprising that on key issues Hone Harawira is driving (jobs, the rise in GST, tax cuts for the wealthy, and the sale of state-owned enterprises), a large majority of Maori voters are in tune with what he is saying.

It’s ironic that the foreshore and seabed is no longer such a dominant Maori concern. It was the raison-d’être of the Maori Party which was formed following the 15,000 strong hikoi to parliament in 2004, led of course by Hone Harawira, but is now being left behind by the bread and butter issues of everyday struggle.

In reality the foreshore and seabed was a lightning rod for other issues, most notably huge disaffection with government policies which saw working New Zealanders and their families fall further behind in the first five years of the last Labour government.

Red Alert In Japan: An Unfolding Nuclear Catastrophe

by Stephen Lendman
from Countercurrents.org
16 March 2011

Since March 12, a potentially unprecedented catastrophe has been unfolding in Japan, despite official denials and corroborating media reports - managed, not real news. Believe none of them. Nonetheless, on March 15, Reuters suggested what's ongoing, headlining: "Japan braces for potential radiation catastrophe," saying:

"Japan faced potential catastrophe on Tuesday" after a fourth Fukushima reactor explosion, fire, and high-level radiation release, posing grave human health risks to an expanding area, including Toyko's 20 million population 170 miles south.

France's Nuclear Safety Authority rated the disaster a six on the international seven-point nuclear accident scale. Clearly, it's the worst ever. Europe's energy commissioner, Guenther Oettinger called it an "apocalypse," telling the European Parliament that Toyko lost control of events.

Independent experts agree. It's an unprecedented disaster spreading globally. All six Fukushima reactors are crippled, four of them spewing unknown amounts of radiation.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Hikoi in Auckland

Hikoi Takutai Moana passed through Tamaki Makaurau / Auckland today, March 16.

100 people gathered at the bottom of Queen Street, with the march swelling to nearer 200 as it made its way slowly up Auckland’s main drag.

Speakers emphasised that an important reason for opposing old (Labour) and new (National) versions of the seabed and foreshore laws both was to protect the moana from mining and oil drilling.

It is worth remembering that many now iconic struggles, such as the protests of Nga Tama Toa or the occupations at Raglan and Bastion Point were initiated by small groups, who were dismissed by many Maori leaders of the day.

Although small in number, the hikoi was large in spirit and voice, the sound of wiata and haka echoing off the high-rises. No doubt the political reverberations will still be heard on election day and beyond.

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Support Hikoi Takutai Moana 2011

by Vaughan Gunson

Around 50 people took part in Hikoi Takutai Moana when it passed through Whangarei today. Hikoi participants walked a few kilometres down the main street, before getting back in their vehicles and on the road to Wellsford.

The hikoi will be marching along Queen Street tomorrow (Wednesday) at 11am. Then travelling through a number of North Island centres before finishing at parliament in Wellington on Tuesday 22 March.

To see the hikoi itinerary, plus other details, go to the Hikoi Roopu Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001978947880&ref=ts. Or contact Hikoi organiser Reuben Taipari (027) 200 1840.

A lot of the korero in Whangarei was about how the National-led government's Marine and Coastal Bill (supported by the Maori Party) is designed to make it easy for the government to approve ecologically dangerous oil drilling and mining of New Zealand's foreshore and seabed. One of the main messages of the hikoi is that we need to protect Papatūānuku.

While denying flaxroots Maori any rights over the management of the foreshore & seabed, the bill allows any government to rubber stamp commercial exploitation of marine resources, to the benefit of a corporate elite (here & overseas), not the majority of New Zealanders. It's not about keeping the seabed and foreshore in "public hands". Short term commercial interests, rather than sustainability and care for the environment, has always been the outcome of the New Zealand state doing what's best for private capital.

Hikoi Takutai Moana should be supported by all grassroots New Zealanders. As this is a struggle against corporate control of our land and people.

Monday 14 March 2011

Tariq Ali - Sir Douglas Robb Lectures 2011

17 March 2011 to 23 March 2011

Venue: Fisher & Paykel Applicances Auditorium, Owen G Glenn Building, 12 Grafton Road.

Cost: Free admission and all are welcome. No booking required.

Contact: For further information phone 373 7599 ext 87467.

Empire and its futures.
A series of three lectures by Tariq Ali.

In a changing world with American military power transcending US economic weaknesses, the amazing rise of China and the continuing occupations in the Arab world and South Asia, what are the likely outcomes? Is it the case, as many argue, that the US empire is now in irretrievable decline? Will China flex its military muscles one day?

London-based and published on every continent, Tariq Ali has been a leading figure of the international left since the 1960s. He is an editor of New Left Review and has written more than 20 books on world history and politics as well as seven novels. Born in Pakistan he attended Oxford University where he became involved in student politics and the movement against the Vietnam war. He is a critic of neoliberal economics and his book The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity was a response to 9/11. His latest book is The Obama Syndrome: War Abroad.

Lecture 1: Thursday 17 March
Islam and its discontents

As US-backed dictators crumble and fall in the Middle East, heralding a new Arab reawakening, what is the likely impact of all this on the region and elsewhere? And how will these changes affect the jihadi groups that have been active in the region? The Saudi Kingdom is the refuge not just for retired dictators but is also the area that has provided al-Qaeda with most of its early recruits. Arab democracy will become effective only if it deals with the economic problems that confront most of its citizens. Political solutions are no longer enough.

Lecture 2: Monday 21 March
US power today: The global hegemon

Iraq and Afghanistan, Japan and South Korea are still occupied - in different ways - by the US and its allies but imperial overstretch is beginning to set in. Nonetheless US politico-military hegemony, while weakened, is still in place. The EU, Australia/New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea remain loyal satraps with occasional voicing of discontent. How long can this last?

Lecture 3: Wednesday 23 March
The rise of China

The emergence of China as the world's economic powerhouse has shifted the centre of the global market eastwards. Its growth rates are the envy of elites everywhere, its commodities circulate even in the tiniest Andean street markets, its leaders are courted by governments strong and weak. These developments have ignited endless discussion on the country and its future. The mainstream media are essentially concerned with the extent to which Beijing is catering to the economic needs of Washington, while think-tankers worry that China will sooner or later mount a systematic challenge to the political wisdom of the West.

Academic debate, meanwhile, usually concentrates on the exact nature and the mechanics of contemporary capitalism in China. The optimists of the intellect argue that its essence is determined by the Chinese Communist Party's continued grip on power, seeing China's pro-market turn as a version of the Bolsheviks' New Economic Policy; in more delirious moments, they argue that China's leaders will use their new economic strength to build a socialism purer than anything previously attempted, based on proper development of the productive forces and not the tinpot communes of the past.

Others, by contrast, hold that a more accurate name for the ruling party would not even require a change of initials-Communist is easily replaced with Capitalist. A third view insists that the Chinese future is simply not foreseeable; it is too soon to predict it with any certainty. Whatever the evolution, what is the likely global impact 30 years from now?

Evening parking available for $5 in lower levels of Owen G Glenn Building.

Thursday 10 March 2011

Euro MPs vote for Financial Transaction Tax

Tax Justice media release
9 March 2011

“The massive vote in support of a Financial Transaction Tax by MPs in the European Parliament is good news for the campaign in New Zealand,” says Vaughan Gunson, Tax Justice campaign coordinator.

“It shows that support for a Financial Transaction Tax which targets the banks, speculators and big corporates is gaining momentum worldwide. New Zealand politicians must take notice.” (See attached article below: ‘MEPs vote in favour of 'Robin Hood' transaction tax,’ 9 March 2011.)

The Tax Justice campaign wants a tax placed on financial speculation, to discourage an economic activity that was behind the global financial crisis, but also to raise significant government revenue.

Greek Socialist Anni Podimata, who drafted the successful resolution for the European Parliament , says that while European citizens have been hit hard by the financial crisis and growing unemployment “the financial sector remains largely under-taxed and has this year enjoyed profits and bonuses at pre-crisis levels.”

“What’s happening in Europe is happening here,” says Gunson. “The Australian-owned banks, for example, have continued to make massive profits, while ordinary people are under increasing financial stress.”

“Because the New Zealand economy is so deregulated global speculators are allowed to continue their profiteering, and not pay any tax to the New Zealand government.”

“It’s hugely unjust that speculators are getting away with paying no tax on their profits, while grassroots New Zealanders get lumped with a tax on food,” says Gunson. “A Financial Transaction Tax is a solution."

Over 25,000 people have so far signed the Tax Justice petition to remove GST from food and tax financial speculation instead.

For more information go to www.nogstonfood.org

For comment, contact:

Vaughan Gunson
Tax Justice campaign coordinator
021-0415 082

Tuesday 8 March 2011

"We're being told that we need to sacrifice, while those people have never sacrificed."

KRISTINE MATTIS, Graduate Student, Activist with Teaching Assistants' Association, Madison: "It seems clear to everyone now that this is a bigger struggle than just a struggle for the unions. It's a struggle against those of the corporate and elite who have been paying fewer and fewer taxes and who caused the entire economic breakdown on Wall Street, a struggle between the rest of us who are being forced to pay for it and being forced to take losses in our wages, losses in our health-care benefits, losses in our pensions because of that. It was sort of a small battle against the budget repair bill, and now it's really just a war of the working people against the people they see as the real group who has not done their fair share of dealing with the economic hardships that we're all facing. We're being told that we need to sacrifice, while those people have never sacrificed. And I think it has to do with just all of us having come together and discussing this issue and probably talking to one another rather than listening to the mainstream media and realizing more broadly where these problems emanate--from where they emanate and what are the true solutions."

SkyCity casino lockout and picket now on

From Unite

New Zealand’s largest casino has begun locking out its workforce in an attempt by the company to force unionised employees to accept a new agreement.
Dozens of Unite Union and Service and Food Workers Union members have already been told not to return to work unless they leave the union and accept a below cost of living wage offer.

Over a thousand union members are affected by the lockout threat, after negotiations for a new collective agreement broke down and industrial action began on New Year’s Eve.

The major claims of the union were for a minimum wage of $15 hr for all workers, a cost of living wage increase and for security of hours for part time staff. SkyCity Entertainment Group, which owns the casino projects a massive net profit of $130 million for this year.

“Thousands of casino workers who want a living wage and a fair pay rise this year have been affected by a lockout that is designed to intimidate and shock them into accepting poverty wages and a miserable offer from a very wealthy company,” said Unite Union General Secretary Matt McCarten.

“Unite is not intimidated by lockouts and we will attempt to negotiate an end to the dispute today. We hope that the company will meet with us and the workers affected to settle the bargaining with a settlement that both parties can agree to,” continued Mr. McCarten.

“SkyCity have decided to lockout their workforce to starve their employees into accepting an offer that will bind our members and their families to poverty wages. We intend to stand our ground and will negotiate a fair settlement today. We do not want to see union members starved into accepting a bad offer.

“We are also asking for everyone who opposes these bully-boy tactics to join us outside the casino today to protest. We will be asking customers to show their support by not going in,” concluded Mr McCarten.

Matt McCarten is available for comment on 029 568 4422. Mike Treen (Unite casino organiser) is available on 029 525 4744.

Sunday 6 March 2011

Michael Moore: "America Is NOT Broke"

Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.

Today just 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined. Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer "bailout" of 2008, now have more loot, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined. If you can't bring yourself to call that a financial coup d'état, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true.

Friday 4 March 2011

Release Munyradzi Gwisai, free all 46 arrested activists!

The following message was sent today to Zimbabwe's diplomatic representative to New Zealand, based in Canberra.

We appeal to trade unionists, student organisations, human rights groups and others here in Aotearoa to also send their own messages, to zimbabwe1@iimetro.com.au.

Copy them to socialismfrombelow@gmail.com, ashley_fataar@yahoo.co.uk, shanthabloemen@gmail.com and international@socialist-alliance.org

To: Her Excellency Ms Jacqueline Zwambila, Ambassador of Zimbabwe to Australia and New Zealand

4 March, 2011

Socialist Worker-New Zealand today adds its voice to the growing international campaign for the release of Munyaradzi Gwisai and 45 other civil society activists arrested in Zimbabwe.

The 45 students, trade unionists and workers were detained along with Gwisai at a meeting in Harare on February 19 while watching videos of recent political developments in Egypt and Tunisia.

Gwisai is the director of the Labor Law Centre in Zimbabwe and a former Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) member of parliament.

All have been charged with treason, which carries a possible death penalty or a sentence of life imprisonment.

Gwisai has given testimony in court of torture that he and five other detainees suffered in a bid to extract confessions. All have been denied medical attention while in custody, including those suffering from HIV. The 46 were not given any reason for their arrest at the time they were taken into custody, rendering their arrest unlawful. Defence lawyer Alec Muchadehama states that police denied him access to the detainees prior to their first court appearance.

Socialist Worker, along with other supporters of the Workers Charter, was proud to host a meeting by Gwisai at Auckland's Trades Hall in 2007. The visit strengthened ties between civil society groups in New Zealand and Zimbabwe forged during the long struggle against apartheid in Southern Africa.

We echo the condemnation by Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International Deputy Director for Africa, of the torture and ill-treatment inflicted by the Law and Order Section at Harare Central Police Station.

Gwisai, a lecturer in law at the University of Zimbabwe, has told the court that meeting was to discuss constitutionalism, democracy and good governance. We urge respect for this expression academic freedom in Zimbabwe.

We are concerned at reports that the presiding magistrate in the case, Munamato Mutevedzi, was summoned on February 28 to meet with Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, a former Attorney General in Robert Mugabe's government. Any political interference in the case will further undermine the tarnished international reputation of Zimbabwe's judicial system.

We support the statement by Bongani Masuku, International Relations Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, that the allegations against the detainees are baseless.

We repeat the call by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay that all those being held in custody illegally should be released without delay.

We further demand that the rights contained in Articles XII and XIX of the Global Political Agreement, signed by Zimbabwean Prime Minister Robert Mugabe on 15 September 2008, must be upheld now and in the future, namely:

* Freedoms of assembly and association.
* Freedom of expression.

The Zimbabwean government, its ministers and agents should be aware that the world is watching.

Central committee, Socialist Worker-New Zealand

Thursday 3 March 2011

Tax the speculators to help rebuild Christchurch

Tax Justice media release
3 March 2011

“Now more than ever New Zealand needs Tax Justice,” says Vaughan Gunson, Tax Justice campaign coordinator. “We must place a tax on financial speculation to help pay for the rebuilding of Christchurch, rather than cut government spending on essential public services.”

Taxing financial speculation is one of the demands on the Tax Justice petition, along with removing GST from food, which has been signed by over 25,000 New Zealanders.

“The Christchurch earthquake is a devastating blow to the people of that city,” says Gunson, “but that suffering must not be spread to the rest of the country. How we fund the rebuilding of Christchurch will have a long term impact on the well-being of millions of ordinary New Zealanders.”

The Tax Justice campaign calls on all political parties represented in parliament to put serious consideration into the implementation of a tax on financial speculation.

“A Financial Transaction Tax on speculative money flows could potentially raise billions from banks, overseas hedge funds and wealthy corporates operating in New Zealand,” says Gunson. “Treasury officials with access to the relevant information need to be told to investigate how much a Financial Transaction Tax could raise.”

“Financial speculation adds nothing to the New Zealand economy, and is carried out by mega-wealthy individuals and institutions whose only goal is windfall profits – tax them to rebuild Christchurch,” says Gunson.

The tax agenda of John Key’s National government has been to shift the tax burden on to grassroots people, by putting GST up to 15% and giving tax cuts to the rich, including lowering company tax from 30% to 28%, one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the world.

Mr Gunson says that National’s tax agenda, if continued in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake, will heap pain on top of pain for ordinary people.

The Tax Justice campaign supports calls for National’s 2010 tax cuts, which overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy, to be reversed. Removing GST from food would deliver immediate budget relief to struggling low and middle income earners.

For more information on the Tax Justice campaign go to http://www.nogstonfood.org/

For comment, contact:

Vaughan Gunson
Tax Justice campaign coordinator
(09)433 8897
021-0415 082

Kay Murray
Tax Justice spokesperson
021-1672 843

Important post-earthquake political debate: who pays?

An important political and ideological debate has started in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake. This debate hinges around a neo-liberal response that will devastate the lives of all grassroots New Zealanders (a case of same policies, same failures), or an alternative people-centred response that makes sure that those most able to pay - the wealthy and big corporates - foot the bill for rebuilding Christchurch. Tax continues to be a key political battleground.

Rob George, a Hamilton-based activist, has entered into this debate in response to an article by NZ Herald business columnist Fran O'Sullivan. Rob's article, Seismic events in Christchurch, food & fuel, can be read on The Standard