Posted: 8 May, 2013 by Admin in At the coalface, Capitalist ideology, Economics, Labour Party NZ, National Party NZ, New Zealand history, New Zealand politics, Pike River disaster, Unions - NZ, Workers history, Workers Rights, Workplace Injuries
On Monday (May 6), the Greymouth District Court judgement on Pike River Coal was released, Judge Jane Farish having found the company (now in receivership) guilty on April 18 of nine health and safety failures, resulting in the mining disaster of November 2010. Overall, she found “fundamental safety breaches” by Pike River Coal which “were causative of the explosion and subsequent deaths of the men who perished.”
Her 64-page judgement included the damning indictment that the mine drilling rig’s methane sensor, which is supposed to be checked weekly, hadn’t actually been checked for four and a half months. The Labour Department investigation into the disaster found its most likely cause was a roof fall which drove methane into the mine. This ignited, causing the explosion which snuffed out the lives of twenty-nine workers.
Whenever methane levels reached 1.25 percent of the air in the mine equipment was supposed to shut down, but on November 19, 2010 the drilling rig’s methane sensor was faulty but the rig was kept operating. Inadequate monitoring of gas levels, said the Farish judgement, “contributed significantly” to the explosion. Indeed methane levels above 1.25% had occurred no less than 13 times in the 25 days leading up to the fatal explosion. In just the week before it, explosive levels of methane had been reached five times!
As we noted in an article on this blog last November, “three years before the explosions the potential danger of Read the rest of this entry »
by Tony Norfield
It turns out that there is no slump in economic output once government debt rises above 90% of GDP – the case for austerity has been blown apart! That is the conclusion of people who have joined the attack on a widely cited piece of research by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, from the economics editor of the Financial Times, the head of PIMCO, one of the world’s largest investment funds, and many others.
Reinhart and Rogoff’s thesis was that higher government debt, above a trigger level of 90%, would produce much lower growth, so that more government spending to escape recession would backfire. A recent academic paper showed that, among other things, they had miscalculated some of the numbers underpinning the result.
The authors admit the miscalculation error, but argue that their broad conclusions remain valid. What should we make of this policy spat?
Posted: 6 May, 2013 by Admin in Events, Imperialism, Internationalism, Ireland, Israel, Marxism, Middle East, Palestine, Revolutionary figures, State Repression, State terrorism, Workers history, Workers Rights, WWI, WWII
by Susanne Kemp
An interesting series of talks and seminars at the Canterbury Workers Educational Association continued on April 27 with speakers on the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin and the 1948 Nakba in Palestine. The event was organised by supporters of Palestinian and Irish freedom.
Marla Hughes presented on the invasion and partial conquest of Ireland by the Anglo-Normans in the twelfth century, important events over the next seven hundred years such as the Penal Laws, the founding of Irish Republicanism in the late eighteenth century and the annexation of Ireland into Britain in 1803, the Famine and the rebellions between 1798 and 1867. She looked briefly at the Land Wars and the rise and demise of Charles Stewart Parnell and then the rekindling of revolutionary republicanism following Tom Clarke’s return to Ireland. Her talk explored the background to the Rising, the role of leaders such as Clarke, Patrick Pearse and James Connolly, the Rising itself and the revitalisation of the struggle for the Republic that began very quickly after the rebellion was defeated and its leaders executed. She noted how the executions galvanised public opinion behind the rebels and their cause. The movement for independence then became a Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: 3 May, 2013 by Admin in At the coalface, capitalist crisis, Class Matters, Democracy movements, Economics, Internationalism, Iran, Marxism, Middle East, Political prisoners, Poverty, Protest, State Repression, Unemployment, Workers history, Workers Rights, Workers' strikes, World economy
Yassamine Mather reports on the growing politicisation of the Iranian workers’ movement
In a week where news from Iran is dominated by speculation about who will or will not stand as a candidate in the country’s forthcoming presidential elections and whether the Guardian Council will allow Mohammad Khatami (the last ‘reformist’ president) or Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei (president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s anointed successor) to participate; in a week where Iran’s press and media are consumed by speculation about ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani after he announced he is not ruling himself out as a candidate in the June 14 poll; in a week when a group of pro-US regime change supporters, the newly formed Iran National Council, elected Reza Pahlavi, the son of the former shah, as their spokesperson, the more astute sections of the bourgeois press were drawing attention to a serious player in Iran’s economic and political scene: the working class.
The US journal Foreign Policy writes: “As Iran’s economy continues to deteriorate, the labour movement is a key player to watch because of its ability to pressure the Islamic Republic through protests and strikes. . . And thus far, Iranian labourers have not joined the opposition green movement en masse. But the economic pains caused by the Iranian regime’s mismanagement, corruption and international sanctions have dealt serious blows to worker wages, benefits and job security – enough reason for Iranian labourers to organise and oppose the regime. . .”1
The journal refers to the role of Ahmadinejad’s massive privatisation programme and the ending of subsidies as policies that have Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: 29 April, 2013 by Admin in Banking and financial services, capitalist crisis, Capitalist ideology, Class Matters, Cyprus, Economics, Euro, Greece, Iceland, Marxism, State capitalism
by Michael Roberts
Five years after Iceland’s economic collapse, early returns in the parliamentary election reveal that voters are favouring the return of a centre-right government, originally blamed for the nation’s financial woes. Electors are about to oust the Social Democrats despite their apparent adoption of Keynesian-style policies of capital controls and devaluation, so lauded by leading Keynesian economists and even elements of the IMF.
Iceland, a small volcano-dotted North Atlantic island with a population of just 320,000, went from economic ‘wunderkind’ to financial basket case almost overnight back in 2008 when its main commercial banks collapsed within a week of one another. The value of the country’s currency plummeted and inflation and unemployment soared. Iceland was forced to seek bailouts from Europe and the International Monetary Fund.
Many Keynesians put Iceland’s response to this crisis forward as the model for policy. The government opted for devaluation, capital controls and renegotiating foreign debts. Paul Krugman (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/the-times-does-iceland/) described the results thus: “the relevance of the Icelandic sort-of miracle… What it demonstrated was the usefulness of devaluation (and therefore of having your own currency), and the case for temporary capital controls in an emergency. Also the case for letting creditors of private banks gone wild eat the losses. Iceland did not engage in fiscal stimulus; it didn’t have to, given the kick from a huge depreciation of the currency. And more broadly, Iceland is a dramatic demonstration of the wrongness of conventional wisdom in these times. . . Iceland broke all the rules, and things are not too bad.”
But it seems Icelanders do not agree that things “are not too bad”. As I explained before, the success of the Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: 22 April, 2013 by Admin in Europe, Events, Imperialism, Internationalism, Ireland, Israel, Palestine, Public Meeting, Revolutionary figures, State Repression, State terrorism, Workers history
In late April 1916, Irish rebels seized buildings around Dublin and declared independence from Britain. While the Rising was defeated and many of its leaders executed by the British, it marked the renewal of the struggle for independence, a struggle which assumed a mass character a few years later.
In Palestine, in early May 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes as the modern Israeli state was established; this event is known to Palestinians as the Nakba (the catastrophe).
This Saturday afternoon seminar looks at how and why the Rising came about and the degree to which the principles of the Easter Proclamation have been implemented since, and how the Palestinians have attempted over the past 65 years to achieve their rights. As well as talks, we’ll be showing actual film footage from the Easter Rising.
Marla Hughes on the Easter Rebellion
Nick Scullin on The Nakba
1-4.30pm, Saturday, April 27
Workers Educational Association
59 Gloucester St
Gold coin donation appreciated