Archive for the ‘At the coalface’ Category

by Don Franks

The Vietnam war continued.  Muldoon was yet to dominate New Zealand’s parliament, there was no internet and the Waitangi Tribunal did not exist.

 1974 was a different world.

My main memory of ‘74 was being elected to represent my workmates on the Wellington Trades Council.  Getting elected wasn’t very difficult.  Although it was a time of active unionism, few workers liked attending evening meetings, the leftist car plant union was happy for me to be a council delegate.

The Wellington Trades Council was the local assembly for affiliates of the nation-wide Federation of Labour.  Forerunner of today’s Council of Trade Unions, the FoL connected most private-sector worker’ unions.  Once a month, accredited representatives gathered for an evening meeting at the Trades Hall in Vivian Street.

The hall was – and remains – a dingy grey edifice in Wellington’s red light area.

Only a small union presence remains in the now multipurpose building.  Previously, however, Trades Hall was the union movement’s business and social centre, a place affecting thousands of workers’ lives.

Once a month at 7pm thirty to fifty delegates streamed down the passage leading to the meeting hall, running a gauntlet of hopeful paper sellers: Socialist Action, Tribune, Unity, People’s Voice.  Wellington’s marxist left was (more…)

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On February 11 the campaign group Speak Up for Women received notification from Phantom Billstickers that their poster campaign calling for public consultation on the controversial Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill would be removed from over 60 sites from Auckland to Invercargill, in a move that is being described as reactionary and anti-free speech.Screen Shot 2019-02-13 at 1.29.37 PM

The media company allegedly received ‘four or five’ complaints from members of the public over the weekend, in response to the posters. Ani O’Brien, Speak Up For Women spokesperson, says: “Jamey’s email came out of the blue this morning, so I called him to discuss his concerns and clarify our position. Jamey Holloway, Managing Partner of Phantom Billstickers said “[your] campaign has been accepted in error and will be withdrawn as soon as logistically possible.” Mr Holloway decided to dump the women’s rights campaign to appease the  (more…)

Palestinian prisoner Fares Baroud, 51, from al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza, died on Wednesday, 6 February only hours after being suddenly transferred to intensive care from Ramon prison. Baroud suffers from a number of health conditions, including a hernia and liver disease, and has repeatedly spoken about medical neglect and denial of needed health treatment to Palestinian prisoners.

Earlier, he had lost 80 percent of his sight due to a vision problem; treatment was delayed for four months by the prison administration for his condition. Palestinian prisoners’ associations said that Baroud has been subjected to deliberate medical neglect over the years and that he has been denied necessary medical care that could have sustained his life.

Baroud had been denied family visits for 18 years by the Israeli occupation, including with his mother, Rayya Baroud. Rayya suffered from the same vision condition, losing her sight and her life before seeing her son again. Before her death in 2018 at the age of 85, she (more…)

by Don Franks

Some things don’t change much over the years. A thousand union hours lobbying MPs is still worth less than five minutes organising on a job.

The reason for unions existing at all is to advance workers’ interests and at their own workplace is where workers are best able to do this.  I feel fortunate to have done my union apprenticeship at a time of relatively high workplace union activity.  When ordinary people routinely did extraordinary things.

For example, one such incident. The Wellington Trades Council had called an all-up support meeting of Hutt Valley workers at Randwick race course, to support
out-of-town unionists on strike. It might have been a Kinleith mill dispute, or the Mangare Bridge battle, I can’t recall. What I do recall clearly from that afternoon is seeing the mass of men and women from the Gracefield industrial area; from the oil stores, the bottling plant, the car plant and the little metal working
shops tucked away from the main road.  Together we all packed out the race course stadium

The officials made a report and there was a silence. Then a guy in the crowd stood up and doffed his grubby beanie. “I reckon those guys on strike are gonna need  some money. I’m gonna  put a dollar in this little purple hat and pass it along for the rest of yous to put in too.”

The hat bobbed along the rows, making its swelling way to the men at the microphone.  Whether that guy who set the tone of the meeting got his (more…)

RDA picket, Auckland Hospital; Pic by Abigail Dougherty/Stuff

by Peggy Stewart

Junior doctors who are members of the Residents Doctors Association (RDA) have been striking this week in defence of their working conditions and for their Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA). At the heart of this dispute sits bad faith negotiating by District Health Boards (DHBs), an attempt to undermine and expire the RDA MECA to impose an inferior MECA negotiated by a new rival union. This dispute is likely to continue for many months with further strikes on the cards. (more…)

On January 14  the Speak Up for Women Campaign was launched.

This campaign is to oppose the current state of the Birth, Deaths, Marriages and Relationship Registrations bill and its proposals for sex self-identification.

“The BDMRR Bill will be read when Parliament returns in February 2019 and the campaign organisers are asking for help to ensure the parliamentarians understand this is concerning many people. Please spread the word! #SpeakUpNZ #NoSexSelfID

“We again ask that Our Three Reasonable Demands listed below are taken seriously.

“1. The Government must put the self-ID proposal on hold until there is reasonable public consultation. Respectful, evidence-based public consultation must take place, including with women who are affected by the proposals.

speakup2. The Government must review how the proposed changes will affect data gathering, reporting and the integrity of records for things such as crime, health and monitoring sex-based discrimination such as the pay gap.

3. The Government must review how the proposed changes will impact the protected category of “sex,” intended to protect women from discrimination under the Human Rights Act

“If you haven’t done so already, please consider sending a message to your MP. We have made it very easy for you to do so, it only takes a minute – just fill out the form here.”

https://speakupforwomen.nz/email-your-mp/

Pic: Der Spiegel

Today, January 15, 2019, marks the 100th anniversary of the murder of one of the finest revolutionaries of all, Rosa Luxemburg.  She and fellow revolutionary workers’ leader Karl Liebknecht were executed at the behest of German Labourite heads.

On Redline, we have a range of articles about – and some material by! – Rosa Luxemburg.

Rosa Luxemburg’s political legacy

Rosa’s last article

Rosa Luxemburg on Marxism, class struggle an the fight for women’s right to vote

Rosa Luxemburg in the 21st century

Thousands turn out for Luxemburg and Liebknecht commemoration

Rosa Remixed Up: 100 years after The Accumulation of Capital

Erin Polaczuk and Rosa Luxemburg

For a range of Rosa’s work, check out the Rosa Luxemburg library on the Marxist Internet Archive, here.