Archive for the ‘Labour Party NZ’ Category

by Don Franks 

Last year, US ambassador Scott Brown clashed with our then prime minister Bill English, who’d described Trump’s threat to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea as “not helpful”.

In a TVNZ interview on October 15th , Scott Brown complained: With respect to the prime minister, who I do have a lot of respect for, people either love the president’s tweets or they hate the president’s tweets. But this is how the president communicates and reaches his base, and it’s effective for him… I would refer your viewers to a recent Washington Post article that came out on October 11th saying that the president’s policy, after years of basically languishing, are actually working”. Scott Brown went on at some length to make it clear that in future he expected more compliance from New Zealand politicians.

Since the governing Labour/NZ First coalition has been going, the US ambassador has not needed to caution our government on matters of foreign policy. It would seem the lesson has been taken. 

Soon after becoming prime minister, Ardern made it clear that her government would be prepared to support an attack on North Korea. Her statement was hedged around with talk of negotiations and UN resolutions but it was unambiguous. Military support was a last resort, but a resort no less. And there was no comment from her about Trumps’s continuing bellicose rhetoric being “unhelpful”.

On April 14th this year Jacinda Ardern declared that New Zealand “accepted” the US-British-French missile strikes on Syria. Ardern told reporters that her government had been informed about the attack hours in advance.

Asked by reporters if she would send troops to Syria, Ardern did not rule it out, responding: “That’s a hypothetical. We haven’t been asked.” 

ardernmerkel

Ardern firmed up her pro-war response after meeting with Merkel

She said she would discuss the war with French, German and British leaders during an upcoming visit to Europe. When later conferring with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ardern firmed up her pro-war response, now saying she “utterly accepted” the need for attacks on Syria. (more…)

Advertisements

by Don Franks

It happened again yesterday, on Morning Report. Air New Zealand boss Christopher Luxton airily deflected the interviewer’s awkward question: “No, Suzie, Im not going there because its commercially sensitive.” 

This refusal to reveal how much US president Obama’s visit cost the company was accepted, because “commercial sensitivity” is among the magic words and phrases capitalism uses to protect its interests.  (more…)

By Don Franks

NZ Council of Trade Unions president Richard Wagstaff has just published an interesting piece : “New Zealand needs to change how it does business.”

Richard notes that over the last 30 years, “the share of the economy going to working people has fallen from over 50 per cent to just over 40 per cent, cutting $20 billion  a year from pay packets.”Income-Inequality

The union leader sees this having occurred because:

“… too many decisions about the work we do nowadays are made outside of employment law altogether.

“You see it for the people who are pushed to become dependent contractors and take all of the risk and little of the reward – that’s tens of thousands of drivers, utilities technicians, and construction workers over the last decade alone.

“You see it in the boardroom level decisions to re-tender whole workforces on lower terms and conditions by changing contractors (even though they end up largely employing the same people). (more…)

The third Labour government under Norman Kirk enabled employers to take out injunctions against workers withdrawing their labour; Northern Drivers Union leader Bill Andersen was jailed for his union’s defying an injunction; the jailing sparked massive workers’ protests

by Don Franks

Striking.

Jacinda Ardern’s dead against it.

Today’s unions accept tight government constraints on it.

At some time in the future workers will recall this potent weapon, because it gets results. I wrote the history below when the previous Labour government was in power, our circumstances today remain essentially the same.

Strikes have brought workers suffering and death. They’ve also won money and righted wrongs. Striking involves risk, excitement and, dare I say it – (more…)

Resisting factory closure: Rixen factory occupation, Levin, 1981

by Don Franks

We call it an act of God. A natural calamity, outside human control, like an earthquake, forest fire or flood, for which no human can be held responsible.

In past times, acts of God covered much greater range; unexplained livestock deaths and crop failures for instance. When we knew no material explanation for a disaster, all we could do was wring our hands and pray. Hoping that if we showed contrition for our sin which must have caused the calamity, a stern parent-like deity might help us.

Today, because our understanding of the universe is better, fewer acts of God are accepted as such.

Acts of God are simply events that humans can’t control to their advantage yet.

Scientific leaps in recent years have been breathtakingly exciting and huge, but there are some areas where human behaviour remains in the dark ages.

A prime example is the field of industrial relations. Awful disasters for workers take place, quite regularly. Disasters like the loss of one’s job – one of the most punishing losses that can beset a person – and they are essentially accepted as acts of God. You can see an example below in this union media release from 18 January 2018. The words happen to be from the union E tū, however it’s a fairly  (more…)

by Don Franks

Almost always, news of a new baby coming brings great joy.

Then the anticipation, the preparation, the anxiety and finally the miracle of a wonderful new arrival.

In recent months I’ve been privileged to share this wonder with three young family friends. Watching the wee tot sleep, touching the tiny hands, sharing a first real little smile. It’s no wonder that the Christian religion has got so much mileage from its symbol of Madonna and child, because almost always, human birth is a joyous event.

Not in every case. There are accidental, unwanted pregnancies, imposed pregnancies and arrivals into a family already too desperately poor to support the existing brood.

New Zealand’s most famous anticipated baby will not be born into (more…)

But not an alternative to capitalism

by Don Franks

Jim Anderton’s death revives memories of recent political times that will not be repeated.

When the past president who’d revived Labour broke away from his party and formed NewLabour I was one of those lefties who became excited. Not since the resignation of Matt Rata had a major politician broken with the Labour Party and become active somewhere on its left. This time the rupture was very much wider and possibly a fine opportunity for becalmed kiwi socialists. Initially it looked like some new political space had opened up. We might move in from the margins and make some inroads.

So a huge proportion of the New Zealand left were bedazzled when Jim’s NewLabour Party was formed. No MPs but many left Labour activists decamped to go with Anderson. A notable exception was my mentor, Pat Kelly, trained in the old communist tradition that you stayed and fought in the existing organisation rather than joining spinoffs. In my recollection the only left group who definitely stood aside and criticised was the Communist Party of New Zealand. Those other of us who joined the gold rush saw it as an easier option than the hard slog of taking revolutionary politics out to workers who didn’t seem to be very interested in our message.

Soon Jim made it clear that NewLabour was not going to be a vehicle for revolutionary ideas. He cleaned out the obvious communists very early on, beginning with the Communist Left and then the Permanent Revolution Group. Ironically, Anderton was at one stage in a position of defending the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, mostly to support his allies in the union bureaucracy-dominated (pro-Moscow) Socialist Unity Party. Not publicly, but in a closed meeting, David Steele and I wound up in a very tense tussle with Anderton over this issue. As time went on, several of our Workers Communist League comrades, including David, finished up putting a lot of time and energy into the Alliance. Because, for a while, it still looked like some solid reforms at least could be achieved. But for all the hopes Jim’s party raised, it was (more…)