Archive for the ‘At the coalface’ Category

In leading US ally Saudi Arabia public beheadings are state policy

Another ISIS beheading?  No, this is in leading US regional ally Saudi Arabia, where public beheadings are state policy and very common

The following is the text of a leaflet being produced by Redline blog.  As well as appearing in text form below, it will appear as a downloadable leaflet in the next day or two.  We hope that blog readers/supporters will download and distribute copies.

It’s often pointed out that  Islamic State is a barbaric organisation trying to establish medieval-type social control.  It is also, however, a repository of the dispossessed, the marginalised, the fanatical, the extreme, and, yes, the evil.  ISIS is not the main source of barbarism, brutality and evil in the region, however.

George Bush, SalmanBeside the barbarism, brutality and evil of US imperialism ISIS are rank amateurs.  And while we recoil in horror at their public beheadings this is a common form of execution by the state in Saudi Arabia, one of Washington’s chief allies in the world.  John Key may mouth outrage at ISIS beheadings, but a mere few weeks ago he asked for NZ flags to be lowered as a mark of respect following the death of the Saudi dictator, “King” Abdullah, the man who presided over public beheadings and floggings by the state throughout his reign (as does his successor now).

The Washington-led intervention is about US imperialism establishing economic organisation and control of the region.  They have been at this for many decades and there is no part of the globe not in some way economically plundered by American companies and militarily and politically pushed around by the US government.  Today, in particular, they are plundering the Middle East. They are not there to establish democracy, they are there to steal other people’s oil and other resources.

The simple fact is that since the US and its allies, including the NZ Labour government of the time, invaded Afghanistan in 2001, the problems in the region have been made worse.  ISIS did not even exist until the US and its allies wrecked Iraq.

And it isn’t just US imperialism that we should oppose.  In this country and abroad, workers face the problem of NZ (more…)

Sending NZ troops to Iraq "not an easy decision", but Key is still OK about bathing in blood of the peoples of the Middle East

Sending NZ troops to Iraq “not an easy decision”, but Key is still OK about bathing in the blood of the peoples of the Middle East

by Don Franks

The war pigs’ war drums beat again and, having heard them several times before and not liking their ugly sound, even from a relatively safe distance, I wish there was an easy solution.

It would be really nice to believe there was an accessible political alternative.  An alternative you only had to vote for.

Even if you had to wait a while, just so long as you confidently knew that in time your boat would surely come into harbour and everything would come right.

If you could, say, have faith in Labour as a real political alternative to imperialist war.

Labour leader Andrew Little told Breakfast TV he saw no point in sending a small contingent, possibly up to 100 troops, to contribute because Iraq needed more than just military assistance.

“What is equally important is stuff that is going to help Iraq as a nation and state to get on its own two feet,” he said. “I don’t know why it is that we’re just going down the track of military assistance and not the civilian reconstruction assistance, which is equally important.”

The word here is (more…)


From the firefighters’ 2012 campaign

One of the unions in New Zealand that has been noticeable for defending pay and conditions on the job and solidarising with other workers in struggle has been the firefighters.  They have had some tough battles of their own, but also supported the Auckland port workers in their fight to defend jobs and conditions.  The NZPFU (New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union) is also the only union to have succeeded in getting a referendum on workers’ rights.  In their case it was about defending jobs.

Firefighters gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures in order to force the government to hold a referendum in December 1995 on the question:  “Should the number of professional firefighters employed full time in the New Zealand Fire Service be reduced below the number employed on 1 January 1995?”

It is interesting that larger unions have not managed to achieve this.  For instance, over a decade later, Unite failed to get sufficient signatures to force a referendum on the minimum wage.

The turnout for the firefighters’ referendum was depressingly low – a mark of the widespread political apathy that resulted in no small part from how workers were smashed by the fourth Labour government and then again in the first term of the fourth National government.  However, the firefighters won the referendum by a landslide, with almost 90% voting ‘yes’.

Some of our most hit-on articles have been on firefighters’ struggles.  At the time it took place, their 2012 dispute briefly became the most hit-on article on Redline, which had come into existence just six months earlier.  Hundreds upon hundreds of firefighters came to the blog and read our main feature article on that struggle, with many also clicking onto articles such as how capitalism works which, among other things, explains how government spending affects private profit rates.

Below are pieces we’ve run on the firefighters and their union:

2.7% rise for the firefighters, 70% rise for their boss

Australian and New Zealand firefighters hold joint conference 

Firefighters giving a lead 

Auckland firefighters solidarity with wharfies 

Firefighters resist vindictive new attack by employers 


Workers occupation, Pyeontaek, South Korea, 2009

Workers occupation, Pyeontaek, South Korea, 2009

One of the key themes of this blog since we began in June 2011 is the sorry state of workers’ resistance in New Zealand.  By-and-large workers here prefer to lay down and be walked over than to stand up and fight.  Announcements of workplace closures are more likely to be met with tears and counselling than with “No, we’re not accepting this shite”.  It is like two generations have been enfeebled.

It doesn’t have to be like this.  There are all kinds of ways of fighting back.  Closure threats, for instance, can be met with occupations.  Occupations challenge the property rights of bosses.  Occupying means workers – the people who have created the new, expanded value from which profit comes – asserting their right to work.  In effect, it is saying “We produce the wealth, we don’t recognise your ‘right’ to take away our jobs and income; given that you obviously can’t run the workplace, we will.”  Occupations are a much more advanced form of struggle than strikes because, instead of just going home, or standing around outside the workplace, we are inside and running it.

Occupations become schools for workers’ control and workers’ management of workplaces and, if undertaken across the society, for a new form of society altogether.  One in which those who produce the wealth own and control the means of production, along with developing new means of distribution and exchange.

Occupations help transform workers’ sense of their own capabilities and their political consciousness.

Below are just a handful of examples of workers’ occupations, from Dublin to Sydney to Buenos Aires to Thessalonika.

Workers occupy Paris Bakery, Moore St, Dublin
When workers occupied – the Cockatoo Island occupation of 1989

Factory takeover in Argentina sees discussions on workers power, women’s liberation
Greek lessons: workers occupy factory, continue production
Video on the struggle
Greek factory: “the machines of self-management have been turned on”
Workers’ self-management only solution: interview with spokesperson for the occupation



Above: activists from the Bluebell Housing Action Group in Dublin; we need the same spirit here.

by Don Franks

Prime Minister John Key’s state of the nation speech confirmed Government plans to sell 1000 to 2000 state houses in the next year to community-housing providers, with more sales possible in coming years.

Key put a cosy inclusive-sounding spin on the sell-off: “In summary, the package I’ve outlined today will help more people and families get social housing, ensure more of that housing is supplied by community housing providers, improve services for social housing tenants and release more land for new houses.

“If we’re to succeed in solving some of New Zealand’s longstanding social challenges, the Government needs to be open to working with community groups, non-government agencies and the private sector.
We don’t have a monopoly on good ideas, resources and expertise.
So we’re taking a different approach to provide quality social housing for New Zealanders who need it.”

Labour leader Andrew Little said (more…)

One of the main groups providing on-the-ground political involvement and leadership in working class communities resisting the water tax in the south of Ireland is the revolutionary movement éirígí.  Below is a video they produced last February showing people how to sabotage water meters:

We’ve also put up the éirígí New Year statement on Redline, here.

10420053_785039928237522_3585140471515156016_nby Philip Ferguson

In the past few days several working class communities on the south side of Dublin have successfully resisted the attempts of Irish Water to install water meters.  The meters are part of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition’s attempt to impose water taxes on homes, the latest measure in their vicious austerity crusade against the working class in the south of Ireland.

On Monday, people on the Sandyford Park housing estate in south Dublin stopped Irish Water in its tracks.  They were only able to dig up a few shores for the fitting of boundary boxes, before residents and their supporters from other areas forced the halting of work and, the next day, made Irish Water fill in Monday’s holes with cement.

Irish Water was also forced to remove its vehicles from nearby Bearna Park housing estate, as residents made it obvious they would physically prevent the installation of meters.

The victories at Bearna Park and Sandyford Park (more…)