Archive for the ‘Community organising’ Category

What follows are two editorials from weekly workplace bulletins of the revolutionary working class organization Lutte Ouvière in France. 

The “yellow vests” worn by protesters are hazard vests required for all drivers in France. They have become the symbol of the economic distress of the protesters. A new fuel tax planned for January sparked the protest. Gasoline in France costs roughly $NZ 9.60 a gallon and with the new tax, prices at the pump would go up!

In France, workers get only one paycheck a month. The rising cost of living has eaten into wages and retirement benefits. Halfway through the month, many lack money for food and skip meals. The gas tax increase was the last straw in a worsening situation.

The editorials have been translated into English by the US Marxist group Spark.


After the November 17 Protests: Let’s Fight for Higher Wages, Pensions and Social Benefits!

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered in more than 2,000 rallies across France. The November 17 protests were a success despite the tragic death of a demonstrator in Savoie (a region in the Alps) and the injuries caused to some at different roadblocks. In some places the protests continued the next day and the following days as well.

For many demonstrators, these protests were their first experience of collective action. The rallies were organized at grassroots level and not by unions or political parties, as is usually the case. The politicians who pointed out the absence of clearly “identified organizers” were actually lamenting the fact that they had no-one to negotiate with to put an end to the movement! For the workers, the problem is different: it’s about getting involved in the struggle and organizing it according to (more…)

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Workers’ protest, Noumea, January 2016

by Phil Duncan

Sunday November 4 saw the long-awaited referendum in New Caledonia on whether to become independent or stay part of France.  Given the population make-up, as the French government has historically ensured a sizeable pro-French settler population, the rejection of independence was hardly surprising.  The vote was 56.4% for staying with France and 43.6% for independence.  French president Macron declared this outcome to be a show of “confidence in the French Republic”.  However, the voting figures suggest that the majority of Kanaks, the Melanesian indigenous population, continue to favour independence.

France maintains artificial majority

For instance, the territory is divided into three provinces and in the two with predominantly Kanak populations, people voted decisively for (more…)

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…)

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…)