Archive for the ‘Community organising’ Category

Militant (and illegal) strikes by teachers and other school employees in the US won major gains earlier this year; it’s an example worth emulating. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

by Don Franks

“In 2018, we’ll be making the message loud and clear – It’s Time. Time to lead, teach and learn. This means freeing teachers to teach so every child receives the personal attention they need to learn and thrive. It means freeing principals to focus on leading and it means ensuring we have enough teachers by attracting more people to teaching, by respecting them as professionals and paying them properly.

“We currently have a growing teacher shortage crisis already showing itself in our schools, which looks set to worsen with growing student numbers and less (sic) people training to become teachers.

“Our students come to school to learn all the skills and abilities that they’ll need to grow up healthy, happy and productive in the 21st century. Our nation can afford to ensure every child receives the education they need to succeed in life, and for every educator to be trusted and resourced to make that a reality. It’s simply a matter of priorities.

“As we go through negotiations for the Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement this year, we’ll be standing together for our students and for an education system that values, attracts and retains the amazing teachers who are entrusted with the education of our children.”

So says the New Zealand Educational Institute, the union for primary school teachers.  It’s the NZEI union office lead piece on the teachers’ impending pay struggle. 

The  campaign title page carries no target figure, no specific claims argued, no bottom line. Payment is barely mentioned in passing.  NZEI’s “loud clear message” is an abstract empty slogan “Time to lead, teach and learn”.

The original claim of 16% over two years appears further down, inside the document, beside the government counter offer of 3% over three years .

The union office does not make any defence of the original offer. It says in relation to the counter offer:

“Do you think the increase offered is sufficient to address the recruitment and retention issues?”

“Do you think there is enough benefit in the current offer to accept a 3 year term?”

Reasonable negotiation or the thin end of a sell-out?

Does it matter if the NZEI choose to waffle like this? (more…)

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Dave Hansford, Protecting Paradise: 1080 and the fight to save New Zealand’s wildlife, Potton & Burton, 2016, 250pp, $34.99; reviewed by Don Franks

Along New Zealand roadsides, especially on the South Island’s west coast, are hammered hand painted signs. “1080 poisons our water”, “Kea killed in 1080 drop”, “1080 kills everything”.

The  accused 1080 is an organic salt, sodium monofluoraetate. First developed as a rodent killer during World War II by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1080 has since been in wide use for vertebrate pest control. The substance is spread in New Zealand today by the Department of Conservation (DOC), aimed at killing rodents preying on native plants and animals.

Some opponents claim 1080 does  (more…)

The Christchurch-based Canterbury Socialist Society has been organising educational talks, film showings and social events since last year.  The public talks have ranged from Marx’s analysis of the working day to war resisters in New Zealand to the Frankfurt School.

Last month the Society decided to adopt a more formal structure and a founding statement.  Below is the founding statement.

In mid September 2018 the Canterbury Socialist Society was officially founded in Christchurch. A constitution was ratified and an executive board was elected. Those in attendance have prepared the following statement to mark our formation as a Society:

As capitalism lurches from crisis to crisis, the gap between rich and poor continues to widen, social ties are growing weaker, and working life is increasingly exhausting and insecure. Poverty, alienation and despair are now ubiquitous features of daily life. A burning question presents itself to the public consciousness: Is this the kind of society, the kind of world, we want? For a growing number, the answer is an emphatic no.

But this first question demands a second: If not capitalism, then which system? Our answer is this: Socialism.

We do not delude ourselves that the public en masse have yet reached the same conclusion as us. However, as capitalism continues in its tendency towards crisis, the political situation will become ever more fractious and violent. The original question therefore will become sharper and its resolution that much more urgent: Socialism or barbarism?

The socialist proposition is that capitalism is neither a (more…)

Every now and then we add a new site to our Links section.  We usually announce this and sometimes we even get around to saying something about the site/publication and why we’ve linked to it.

Today we are adding a link to Notes from Below, a new online journal.  Rather than saying something about it ourselves, here is the text of their ‘About’ section.  Do take a good look across their site, but a good place to start might be issue #3, “The Worker and the Union”, which contains articles examining how working class self-organisation is changing today, the possibilities for a revival of rank-and-file organising and struggle, and the need to advance anti-capitalist politics in the workplace and workplace organisation rather than merely trade union politics.

Anyway, here is their About section:

Notes from Below is a publication that is committed to socialism, by which we mean the self-emancipation of the working class from capitalism and the state. To this end we use the method of workers’ inquiry. We draw our methods and theory from the class composition tradition, which seeks to understand and change the world from the worker’s point of view. We want to ground revolutionary politics in the perspective of the working class, help circulate and develop struggles, and build workers’ confidence to take action by and for themselves.

We argue that an understanding of ‘class composition’, that is to say, how the classes within society are formed and operate, is an (more…)

The last week of August marked the 50th anniversary of the (in)famous 1968 Democratic Party convention in Chicago.  Thousands of people turned up outside the convention to protest the war being waged by the United States, via a Democratic Party administration, on the people of Vietnam.  The Democratic Party mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, turned his cops on the protesters, hundreds of whom were injured in police assaults.  The Illinois National Guard was also turned out, to supplement the armed cops.  This party convention was yet more proof, if any was needed, that the Democratic Party is no vehicle for progressive change in the United States, any more than the Labour Party is in New Zealand (or Britain or Australia).

by The Spark

In 1968, the Democratic Party met in Convention in Chicago to nominate its presidential candidate. This is the Convention that has gone down in history – in the words of Hodding Carter, one of its participants – as the work of “a party that had lost its mind.”

For most people who still remember, the 1968 Convention is associated with the 14-minute live telecast from the streets of Chicago, showing police clubbing and viciously kicking unarmed demonstrators, people who had come to protest the U.S. war on Viet Nam and the Democrats who were carrying it out. Some of those people, bloody on the ground, were shown yelling, “the whole world is watching.”

Or people remember from inside the Convention, Chicago’s mayor, Richard Daley, yelling “fuck you” to Senator Abraham Ribicoff from Connecticut, who had criticized “Boss Daley’s” cops.

In fact, the 1968 Democratic convention should go down in history as the symbol of the inability of the Democratic Party to respond to the deep problems of this country – even at the very moment when social forces were urgently pushing those problems forward.

A Country on Fire

Opposition inside this country to the U.S. war on Viet Nam had become so strong that (more…)

by The Spark

Prisoners in at least 17 states are on strike, protesting the severely inhumane conditions in prisons. Three hundred inmates in Nova Scotia, Canada have also joined the strike. The strike began on August 21, the anniversary of the killing of George Jackson by prison guards in Soledad, California, in 1971, and is scheduled to run until September 9, the anniversary of the Attica prison rebellion in New York that same year.

The strike is taking place in kitchens, laundries, prison grounds – anywhere prisoners do work. By refusing to work, the strikers are trying to draw attention to the dire problems they face every day: the extremely low pay they get, the overcrowding, the treatment of inmates by guards and prison officials. But strikers’ demands also include greater access to rehabilitation and education, and changes in sentencing laws.

Prisoners are demanding (more…)

Occupying the Ministry of Justice, London

by Floyd Codlin

“We are not the dirt, we clean”, is the slogan from United Voices of the World (UVW,) a relatively new union that is making a big industrial splash in Britain. UVW is a members-led, campaigning trade union, which supports and empowers the most vulnerable groups of precarious, low-paid and predominantly migrant workers in the country. The union was founded in 2014, rapidly gaining media attention and popular support with a series of high-profile victories for workers serving Sothebys, Harrods and the London School of Economics. Their members work overwhelmingly in London’s ubiquitous outsourced industries, which include cleaning, portering, security, and retail, waiters and bar staff.

UVW has campaigned for all members to receive at least the London Living Wage (£10.20 per hour as of November 2017), contractual sick pay and other rights, dignified and safe conditions, and general respect. They’ve also challenged outsourcing itself, which creates two-tier workforces in order to slash wage bills and deny important rights. Most recently, from 7th-8th of August 2018, UVW cleaners went on strike at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) for the London Living wage of £10.20 per hour and sick pay.

There are two things that go to make UVW so unusual; one is the fact that (more…)