Archive for the ‘At the coalface’ Category

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: http://rdln.wordpress.com/category/unions-nz/; 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 (http://www.manchesterspring.org.uk/).

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.

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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…)

This article first appeared in revolution magazine’s Middle East bulletin MidEast Solidarity, issue #1, Spring 2001. It looks at the division of labour between the United Nations and western imperialist powers in committing mass murder in Iraq in the 1990s; in 2003, of course, the US-led invasion took place, killing thousands more and devastating Iraq, creating the current morass. The authors were members of the bulletin’s editorial group and active in the Middle East Information and Solidarity Collective.

UN sanctions killed over a million Iraqis and softened up the country for an armed imperialist invasion, symbolising division of labour between UN and imperialist powers

UN sanctions killed over a million Iraqis and softened up the country for a subsequent armed imperialist invasion, symbolising division of labour between UN and imperialist powers

by Grant Poultney and Yan Lin

The purposes of the United Nations are:

1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective action collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace. . .
Chapter 1. Purposes and Principles: Article 1 of the United Nations Charter

On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. Four days later, the United Nations implemented a trade embargo on Iraq. This paralysed the country. Before the sanctions were imposed, Iraq imported 70 percent of its food. The sanctions in place since 1990 have crippled one of the once-healthiest countries in the world. UK and US politicians justify having the sanctions in place to contain the threat of Saddam Hussein.

In 1999, the United Nations ICE Fund (UNICEF) reported that over half a million Iraqi children had died as a result of UN sanctions. This works out to be an average of 200 children a day. How do the deaths of these children fit in with the first article in the UN charter? What have they got to do with ‘containing’ Saddam Hussein?

Depleted uranium

Iraq also suffers a continuing legacy as a result of the United States using (more…)

bundeskartellamt-amazon-marktbehinderung

My trade union is engaged in a long term fight against Amazon for half-way tolerable pay and working conditions in its distribution centres in Germany.  Basic stuff like trade union representation or even a works council, reasonable breaks, being paid for the time spent while standing in line for security checks. Compliance with local labour law.  Some degree of respect for workers from the management. etc.

We are trying to extend this fight internationally and have had some initial success.

But it would help all those who are not uncritical admirers of totalitarian hyper-capitalism knew a thing or two about Amazon’s business strategy and role in the great cancer.  Matthew Stoller’s piece here has a good brief summary of just how and why this electronic trading monopolist has become so powerful.

Firstly, this isn’t an electronic retailer any more.  (Amazon CEO Jeff) Bezos’ ambitions are much wider – he is constructing a monopolist trading empire, something like a global East India Company. Amazon itself says that it competes in the following sectors:

physical-world retailers, publishers, vendors, distributors, manufacturers, and producers of our products, other online e-commerce and mobile e-commerce sites, including sites that sell or distribute digital content, media companies, web portals, comparison shopping websites, and web search engines, either directly or in collaboration with other retailers, companies that provide e-commerce services, including website development, fulfillment, customer service, and payment processing, companies that provide information storage or computing services or products, including infrastructure and other web services, companies that design, manufacture, market, or sell consumer electronics, telecommunication, and electronic devices.

Amazon is hardly taxed because all its profits are (more…)

Over the last six months an average of around 100 strikes and worker protests have been recorded every month in China – and this is just the tip of the iceberg. (AP/Eugene Hoshiko)

Over the last six months an average of around 100 strikes and worker protests have been recorded every month in China – and this is just the tip of the iceberg. (AP/Eugene Hoshiko)

by Han Dongfang

In early September, about 16,000 workers at two Chinese factories producing touch-screens for well-known brands such as Apple went on strike after management reneged on a promise to pay a US$100 holiday bonus.

The strikes were quickly resolved but still hit the headlines in the West because the bonus was supposed to include a box of moon cakes, a traditional gift during the Mid-Autumn Festival in China. The New York Post issued a dire warning to Apple fans, “No cake, no iPhone 6!”

The ‘moon cake strikes’ were further proof, if any were needed, that China’s workers are not afraid to take a stand and defend their legal rights and interests when they are threatened, no matter how trivial the dispute might seem to be about.

At China Labour Bulletin, over the last six months, we have recorded on average around 100 strikes and worker protests every month, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Although protests by factory workers tend to catch most of the international headlines, strikes in the manufacturing industry only account for around 40 per cent of all the strikes in China. Transport workers, teachers, construction workers, coal miners and those in the retail and service industries, are all willing and able to take industrial action if needed.

More often than not, worker protests in China follow the pattern of the (more…)