Archive for the ‘At the coalface’ Category

923390960by Don Franks

National’s tea-break-busting bill will pass through parliament this week.  What will this mean?

The Government’s Employment Relations Amendment Bill makes several changes, including removal of guaranteed tea breaks and meal breaks.  Such breaks have long been part of union awards and agreements but were not in New Zealand law until Labour introduced them in 2008.

The Employment Relations Amendment Bill makes other changes, mostly to the disadvantage of workers and union organisation.  Changes include rights for employers to opt out of multiemployer agreements and removal of the requirement to offer new employees the same terms and conditions for 30 days of employees doing the same work as those covered by a union.

The bill also requires written notice of industrial action, which must include a start and finish date.
And workers lose their existing right to transfer to a new contractor taking over their work and to bargain for redundancy payments.

What to do?

Going on past form, we can expect Labour Party chiefs will tell us to wait until they get back into government and then they’ll sort it out.

That’s not good enough. For starters, the way they’re going at the moment, Labour may never win another election!

Seriously though, Labour has repeatedly shown it can’t be trusted on these matters. They promised to (more…)

Even though bad things happen, it’s hard to get much consistent protest against the government these days.  Many people are understandably put off parliamentary politics, but don’t see any alternative.

Sometimes it helps to look back into the past , to see what seemed to work then. With that in mind, here’s an article written just seven years back.  It first appeared in the December 2007 issue of The Spark, a journal a number of us at Redline were heavily involved with.

Intolerant of  bureaucratic anti-worker bullshit from the Labour Party and EPMU head office, this article sets out a spirit and attitude that we’d do well to revive today.

We don’t know what the author’s up to these days but trust he’s keeping up the same principled revolutionary position.

by Nick Kelly (Dec 2007)

On Saturday 3 November, around 100 to 150 people demonstrated outside the Labour Party conference at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna, keeping alive the recently-established tradition of leftist protest outside Labour conferences.

It was a loud and angry protest but mostly peaceful.  Demonstrators focused their anger on the police raids, the trumped-up charges against activists, and Labour’s anti-democratic “terrorism” laws.

Inside the conference were Labour’s predominantly middle-class and elderly members, and a number of union officials.  At one point Jill Ovens, former Alliance leader and now northern secretary of the Service and Food Workers Union, came out of the conference and told the demonstrators that she was on the same side as them.  She got booed, and loads of people shouted things like “What are you doing in the Labour Party then?”

She stormed off, but her partner, Len Richards, came out to remonstrate and yelled to the crowd that they’d never effected change, they’d “destroyed the left”.  When Workers Party member Jared Phillips reached for the megaphone to reply, Richards whacked Phillips. His blow also hit protester Bronwyn Summers.

Richards then threw the megaphone on the ground and walked off, while the police arrested a protester who tried to intervene.  The guy was dragged away and taken to a police van where he was cuffed and searched.  Richards’ assault was seen by police who were by his side, but he walked away scot-free.

This quite graphically demonstrates (more…)

imagesWe’ve asked several readers to contribute their thoughts on the way forward for the left after the 2014 elections.  The people we invited cover a range of viewpoints from class-struggle anarchist to independent Marxist and include at least one person involved in the Mana Movement. 

Rather than invite ‘high profile’ left individuals, who already have plenty of platform space elsewhere, we’ve invited people who have been battling away as much as they can in their own ways across a number of campaigns and groups.  We gave them complete leeway in terms of what they wrote, and which question/s they wanted to take up. 

This is the third contribution in the series; Olly is a member of Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement (AWSM) and has contributed pieces to Redline in the past.

by Olly Hill

“Modern capitalism’s spectacularisation of reification allots everyone a specific role within the general passivity.” Situationist International

For anyone who has spent time amongst the various tendencies of the far-left, from anarchist to social democrat and everything in between, it will probably seem the norm that many of the more committed activists turn their political ideals into some kind of full-time paid work. Such work could involve working within the trade unions, pursuing a university thesis on some progressive topic or other, working full time for a community group, climbing the ranks of a political party and so on. In some cases the pursuit of such movement jobs flows naturally from one’s personal or collective political positions; socialist groups send their more ‘alpha’ members into trade union work as part of a project of capturing these institutions and assuming a leadership role amongst the workers. Other times such roles clearly contradict the political principles of those pursuing them, in this case it is often necessary for a moment reckoning to occur, at which point one’s ideological perspective must play catch up with a shifting terrain of daily activity and social relationships. Formerly implacable enemies of the State reassess bourgeois political life and find it is ‘not so bad after all’.

It is my opinion that often times it is those who are most ideologically committed to the total destruction of modern society who are the most likely to wind up playing a role in this society’s reproduction. As 21st century capitalism continues to decompose proletarian social life, turning us all more and more into ‘self-employed contractors’ and the like, it remains the case that the vast majority of the dispossessed class manages to feed and clothe itself without performing (more…)

Redline’s readership has, since we began, grown consistently and substantially. At the same time, it can be quite daunting going to a website for the first time and reading a few things on the home-page and then wondering what to look at next and where to go to find it.  So, over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sticking up some lists of important articles in a range of categories.

We’re starting with some important pieces on the state of the working class in New Zealand.  In a couple of days time we’ll list some key articles on the subject of Whatever happened to workers’ resistance?  After that, we’ll list some material on the alternatives to accepting this shite, how workers can fight back, with some inspiring contemporary and historical examples.  The following list will be of key pieces on the current government’s economic and social policies.

Anyway, here’s our first list – remember this is only partial, but each article will also provide some links to related articles.

Coming apart down under: the decay of New Zealand capitalist society from the 1970s to 1993
The state of the working class in New Zealand, 1997
A united front against low-paid workers
A strange paradox: can New Zealand workers really be happy with this crap?
Information Technology and the rise of New Zealand’s modern servant class
Bending over backwards: New Zealand’s temp economy and capital’s growing need for ‘flexible’ labour
The real working life of a chef: a view from the inside
Low horizons and the legacy of defeats
Last machinist at Achilles Industries
Pike River: ‘cashflow’ versus workers’ safety

And most recently: ANZ bank workers take action and Ructions at Lyttelton Port

You will also find lots of reports and other stories about specific workers’ struggles of recent years in the Unions – New Zealand category, here:; among these is the substantial coverage we gave to the Ports of Auckland dispute in 2012 and the firefighters’ struggle of the same year.

Is the world really de-industrialising?

Is the world really de-industrialising?

by Michael Roberts

Last week I spoke on a panel that debated De-industrialisation and socialism.  The panel was organised by Spring, a Manchester-based group in England that has become a forum for the discussion of developments in capitalism and their implications for the prospects for socialism (

The main theme for this panel discussion was the evident fact that the industrial sector (manufacturing, mining, energy etc) has declined sharply as share of the output and employment in the mature capitalist economies during the 20th century.  The question for debate  was: does this mean that the working class has also declined and is no longer the main force of change in capitalism; and also that a socialist or post-capitalist society will be a world without industry or employment of industrial workers?

World not de-industrialising

The first point I made in the discussion was that the world is not de-industrialising.  Globally, there were 2.2bn people at work and producing value back in 1991.  Now there are 3.2bn.  The global workforce has risen by 1bn in the last 20 years.  But there has been no de-industrialisation globally.  De-industrialisation is a phenomenon of the (more…)

by Andy Warren

In a word – dying.  But not from Ebola.

According to WHO data it looks like this:1501834_950246134996398_1142675260604489720_n

However, fear and anxiety are the sexiest ingredients of any story today – rather than boring facts. Ebola fits perfectly the Hollywood template of fast-moving disaster met by flimsy human desperation – Humanity’s timid, hopeless David versus Mother Nature’s angry Goliath – and the slingshot is invariably “hope” or some nauseating version of “pulling together”.

America is now – world media would have you believe – under siege by (more…)

One of our links is to the excellent Le Mur des Oreilles site, which contains interviews with Palestinian figures, Israeli anti-Zionists and a range of cultural and political figures talking about the Palestinian cause and the importance of actions such as the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign.  Below is an interview with prominent Israeli historian Ilan Pappé, conducted last year by the site.


Ilan Pappé

LMaDO: Ilan, you are an historian, you’ve published numerous books, amongst them the famous and controversial for some people “Ethnic cleansing of Palestine” in 2006. In 2007 you moved to England where you are currently teaching history at the Exeter University. You are part of what is called by some people “the new historians” who gives a new analysis and narrative of the history of Zionism and the history of the creation of Israel. You’ve taken some radical positions against the state of Israel. Why and when did you decide to stand on the Palestinians’ side? And what were the consequences for you being Israeli?

Ilan Pappe: Changing point of view on such a crucial issue is a long journey, it doesn’t happen in one day and it doesn’t happen because of one event. I’ve tried in one of my books called “Out of the Frame” to describe this journey out of Zionism to a critical position against Zionism. If I had to choose a formative event that really changed my point of view in dramatic way, it would be the attack of the Israelis on Lebanon in 1982. For us who grew up in Israel, it was the first non-consensus war, the first war that obviously was a war of choice: Israel was not attacked, Israel attacked. Then the first Intifada happened. These events were eye-openers in many ways for people like myself who already had some doubts about Zionism, about the historical version we learned at school.

It is a long journey and once you take it, you are facing your own society, you are even facing your own family and it is not a nice position to be in. People who know Israel know that it is an intimate and vibrant society so if you are against it, you feel it in every aspect of your life. I think this is one of the reasons why it takes a bit longer for the people like me to come to the point where you say there is no (more…)