Archive for the ‘Alienation’ Category

Capitalism can turn almost anything to private profit for the rich minority.  Take the massive Greek debt and the misery of austerity imposed on the Greek masses:

by Michael Roberts

The announcement by the European Central Bank that it has so far made €7.8bn in profits from its holdings in Greek government debt reveals the true nature of the so-called bailouts of Greek government finances that the EU leaders organised in return for massive austerity measures from 2012 onwards.

Back in March 2012, five years ago, a so-called private sector involvement (PSI) deal was agreed under which French, German and Greek banks who held the bulk of Greek government bonds agreed to take a ‘haircut’ on the value of their bond holdings.  Under the PSI, they received in return new Greek government bonds with 30-year lives, paying about 3-4% a year in interest and guaranteed by the Eurozone financing operation, the EFSF.  And they also got some cash up front for turning (more…)

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Theo Spierings: salary of $160,000 per week; $32,000 per ‘working’ day

by Don Franks

Not everyone admires the bloke but I believe Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings is due some appreciation.

If we have eyes to see it, Theo’s done us a favour.

This kiwi dairy worker has jumped into the headlines, not for what he’s done or not done at the office but on account of the size of his pay packet. A total of $8.32 million in 2017, a 78.5 per cent increase  from last year.

Theo Spierings’ earnings are made up of a $2.46m base salary, superannuation benefits of $170,036, a short-term incentive payment of $1.832m and a long-term incentive payment of $3.855m, the co-operative’s latest annual report shows.

Twenty-three other Fonterra executives received up to $1m for their efforts, five of those have recently left the firm, possibly feeling a bit deprived at their loss of relativity.

So what favour has Theo Spierings done us New Zealanders who can’t afford as much cream and butter as we’d like to put on the table?

The Fonterra boss stands as a reminder of several important truths. A reminder that  (more…)

Bosses, not robots, lay off workers

The article below is taken from the French revolutionary workers’ journal Lutte de Classe (Class Struggle).  It was translated by members of the US revolutionary group The Spark.

French Socialist Party presidential candidate Benoît Hamon justified his proposal for a universal guaranteed income by citing the “inevitable disappearance of work.” Referencing the growing role of digital technology and robots, which he believes are going to cause the destruction “of hundreds of thousands of jobs in Western economies,” he also proposed to create a tax on robots. The deputies of the European Parliament, for their part, debated last January about the need to require businesses to “publish the extent and the share of the contributions of robotics… to their financial outcomes, for the purposes of taxation and determining the amount of their social security contributions” (Les Échos, January 13, 2017).

The idea that human labor will be replaced by machines and robots, and that we are heading toward the inevitable end of work, has recently come into fashion. Does this reflect reality or the ranting of pseudo-experts, good news for humanity or the chronicle of a catastrophe foretold? All of the discussions around this question make no sense if the heart of the matter is not taken into consideration: all of the means of production, which are set in motion in a social and collective manner through a vast international division of labor, remain the private property of a tiny minority of capitalists.

In order to justify their propositions, Hamon and the European deputies rely on a range of studies, such as one made by the think tank France Stratégie, according to which 3.4 million jobs in France are in danger of disappearing over the next ten years. In 2013, two researchers at the University of Oxford, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, maintained that 47% of U.S. jobs are at “high risk,” meaning that they “could be automated relatively soon, perhaps over the next decade or two.” They base their arguments on the progress that has apparently been achieved in the fields of robotics and machine learning, which would allow machines to carry out (more…)

Ardern and English: two faces of what is really one party

by Phil Duncan

Two events yesterday provided a micrcosm of the problem with the NatLabs, and yet more evidence of why workers and progressive people generally shouldn’t support either wing of this party.

One of the most obnoxious events in politics, and in elections in particular, is when capitalist politicians – people dedicated to managing the system that exploits workers- show up at workplaces.  They put on hi-viz jackets or hard hats or hair nets or whatever and walk around making absurd chit-chat with workers and posing for photo opportunities.  The more obsequious workers agree to be part of the photo opp and the most obsequious even take selfies and stick them on their facebook pages.

But, thanks to the courage of Robin Lane and several other workers, Bill English found one of these workplace walkabouts highly embarrasing.  Shortly after inspecting a tray of lemons at Kaiaponi Farms (near Gisborne), English looked like he was sucking on a (more…)

Camilo Mones

Camilo Mones worked and organized for decades at the PepsiCo plant in Buenos Aires until this past June, when the corporation abruptly closed it and about 700 workers were fired. Today, he continues to fight alongside other dismissed workers for the factory’s reopening.

In the following, Camilo describes their struggle, the crisis of the CGT (General Confederation of Labour), politics and opposition within the national unions, and the need to fight for a class-struggle perspective within the labour movement.  

The interview was conducted by Left Voice and translated by Nicolas Daneri. 

Left Voice: The media is saying that, apart from the CGT, the PepsiCo workers were one of the main participants in the rally on August 22.

Camilo Mones: We managed to gather a broad range of organizations under the PepsiCo banner that represented the fight against the layoffs, the demand for the appearance of Santiago Maldonado (a political “desaparecido” during a repression against indigenous Mapuches in the south of the country) and the motto, “For a general strike.” There were people from other food factories, the tyre factories workers’ union, the Buenos Aires province teachers’ union, delegates and shop stewards from the subway, railroad workers, airport, left-wing parties, and a delegation of workers from MadyGraf–a printing company under workers’ control.

Although the bureaucracy did not want us to go to the rally, we decided to go in full force. There, we planted our banners with the demand for a general strike, which we chanted throughout the speech. This and our early morning demonstration that blocked 9 de Julio Avenida (one of the most important avenues in Buenos Aires City) led the media to highlight our participation.

LV: Did the CGT’s call to action and their speeches at the rally seem a bit soft?

CM: Completely. The rally–among the smallest in recent years–revealed the crisis within the federation and its leadership. Most of the unions did not take part and some of them only sent small delegations. This crisis is partly a result of 19 months of inaction, when unions had no policy to oppose the austerity measures of (more…)

by Don Franks

I don’t care what anyone thinks, I’ve had enough of all the talk about child poverty.  Some of the talk is well-intentioned, but much of it’s actually bullshit

Phrases roll off the tongue but what does poverty mean in New Zealand today?

The Ministry of Social Development works from the level of income set at  60% of median household disposable income after housing costs. This is deemed a reasonable level to protect people from the worst effects of poverty.

Source: Stats NZ 2016

In these terms it’s calculated that the poverty line after deducting housing costs for a household with two adults and two children lies at $600 per week or $31,200 annually in 2016 dollars. For a sole parent with one child it is $385 per week or $20,200 annually in 2016 dollars. Inadequate amounts of money for a decent life and, by such reckoning, there are around 682,50 people in poverty in this country, or one in seven households.

New Zealand is a far more unequal country than it was a generation back. Over the past three decades, under both National- and Labour-led governments, New Zealand has gone from being one of the most equal to one of the most unequal nations in the wealthy OECD countries.  In those 30 years, incomes for the average of the top 10% income earners roughly doubled while lower and middle incomes barely increased. Let’s compare two reports, almost a decade apart.

The 2007 Statistics Department study Wealth and disparities in New Zealand revealed that the top 10% of wealthy New Zealand individuals owned over half of New Zealand’s total net worth, and nearly one fifth of total net worth was owned by the top one percent of wealthy individuals. At the halfway mark, the bottom half of the population collectively owned a mere 5 percent of total net worth.

The most recent available information is a 2016 Statistics Department study Household Net Worth Statistics: Year ended June 2015 (published 2016).  It reveals that the (more…)

Even in the US there is greater awareness of the importance of opposing immigration controls

by Phil Duncan

In New Zealand, working class struggle remains – as it has been for a couple of decades now – at an historic low.  In fact, abject surrender to exploitation and acceptance of the contempt of the employers and their political representatives in National and Labour seems to be thoroughly normal now.  Occasionally a group of workers will struggle, but these workers are a tiny minority and their struggles are limited to immediate conditions and take place entirely within narrowly-prescribed industrial law.

The share of wealth going to workers, meanwhile, continues to decline.  For instance, official figures show that business operating profits have grown from $NZ47 billion in 2009 to just over $NZ65 billion in the latest financial year, an increase of about 38 percent.  But the median-average hourly wage grew by less than 20 percent.   Large numbers of workers simply haven’t received wage rises in the past couple of years.

Mourning sickness

Even when faced with workplace closures, and a possible future of unemployment, the tendency of the employees generally is to look (more…)