Archive for the ‘Poverty & Inequality’ Category

Aretha in 1973; pic by AP.

by The Spark

Tributes are pouring in for the late legendary singer Aretha Franklin. Many certainly came from those in official positions and celebrities, but most came from people she grew up with and from all of the neighborhoods around the country. The strength of people’s feelings stems from the fact Aretha expressed, not only through her music but also through what she stood for politically, their feelings at a time of engagement and determination to fight for social change in the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

Aretha’s first hit single, her remake of Otis Redding’s song, “Respect,” hit the charts almost simultaneously with the eruption of the urban rebellion that occurred in Detroit in 1967. Like several of her records, “Respect”became an anthem, for black people and for women. Aretha transformed the point of view of Redding’s lyrics about a man expecting respect from his wife to that of a woman demanding respect from her man. Aretha’s spelling out of “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and insistent phrases like “Give me my propers!” reflected women’s growing militancy and, beyond it, the attitudes of the larger community demanding change.

Similarly, her hit “Think!,” was direct and to the point “You’d better think, about what you’re trying to do to me,” ending in a chorus of  (more…)

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Kia ora koutou,

Fourteen quarry workers who took limited strike action last week in pursuit of pay parity with other workers in the industry have been locked out by their boss until Sunday, 12th August. You can support the locked out workers by donating to their hardship fund. Please follow the link here: https://together.nationbuilder.com/atlaslockout

For background, see here: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1808/S00079/quarry-owner-operator-locks-workers-out-of-work.htm

In solidarity – I roto i te kotahitanga

Malcolm Deans
Secretary, Unions Otago

Redline note: There’s a useful/informative article sympathetic to the workers in the Northern Advocate; see here.

by The Spark

Every day, Trump hogs the spot light.  He uses summits to attack US allies, like Canada and NATO.  He takes aim at women leaders, insulting British prime minister Theresa May and German chancellor Angela Merkel.  He walks in front of the elderly Queen of England, almost tripping her up.

Then he rubs it in.  He pretends to be best buddies with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The news media goes crazy.  “This is not a normal president” and “We’ve never had a president like this before,” they say.

That’s music to Trump’s ears.  He is playing a game to keep his base behind him.  He doesn’t mind shocking the others to do that.  It reinforces his play to look ‘tough’.

Trump poses as the champion of the (more…)

The interview below was conducted with members of the rank-and-file Health Sector Workers Network who belong to the nurses’ union (the NZNO).

Philip Ferguson: What have been the key issues in the nurses’ dispute with the DHBs?

Health Sector Workers Network actvists: They really are two-fold.

There are the issues around safe staffing, which with chronic staff shortages, have seen Nurses, Midwives and HCAs working in dangerously unsafe working environments.  In many worksites, particularly the Emergency Departments and Mental Health facilities, there are daily incidents of verbal and physical abuse and assault of staff.

The ability to give excellent patient care without the need for care rationing will only be possible with more staff and clear patient-staff ratios.

Pay equity is the other important issue that members are passionate about.  The need to have remunerations that reflect skills and responsibilities is essential.  We need staff retention and the ability to attract new people to the profession.  If this doesn’t occur, Nurses, Midwives and HCAs will look elsewhere for better wages and conditions, like jumping the ditch to Australia.  Already nurses are leaving on an almost daily basis, resulting in chronic staff shortages and if these issues aren’t addressed it will only get worse.

PF: How successful has the industrial action been?

HSWN: There have been mixed feelings on the success of the strike action.  Due to this dispute being (more…)

PEDRO MERA / GETTY IMAGES Photo: Pedro Mera

by Jimena Vergara

Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) crushed the other candidates in the July 1 Mexican presidential election, winning over 50% of the votes – twice as much as his nearest opponent.

The international press, with good reason, has described the election as historic because of the massive level of voter participation. In the last elections, 63% of the electorate voted, and in this one, 78% took to the polls.

The international and national press is filled with headlines about the “leftist” who won the presidency. AMLO is, in fact, a center-left politician whose election represents deep discontent with the political establishment. The masses invested their aspirations in his candidacy as a product of their deep resentment against the parties that have governed Mexico for the last century.

A historic election

AMLO, part of the political party MORENA (which stands for National Regeneration Movement in Spanish), won (more…)

by Don Franks

“Auckland’s phoney homeless make $100 a day on the streets” is a Herald piece by Amanda Saxton, about a few skid row alcoholics who assemble early each morning to sit together and drink.

A group of apparently lazy, cynical, dishonest parasites, permanently partying, preying on each other and neglectful of their own children. 

“They look homeless, act homeless, and half of them actually are homeless. But Phillip and the group’s kaumātua Sole Johnstone have houses to go home to each evening.”

“Why would we work, slaving 40 hours a week, when we can get $100 a pop sitting here? And I can get drunk at the same time.”

“On a good day, Phillip makes about $100 begging. On an amazing day, $200 – that’s on top of his benefit and his partner’s salary. He says he spends about $100 a day on beer and the odd bit of whiskey”. (more…)

Lutte Ouvriere’s 2018 fete

The piece below is the July 2 editorial from the national network of workplace bulletins produced all over France every week by the revolutionary workers’ current Lutte Ouvriere.The bulletins are read by hundreds of thousands of workers. On one side of the leaflet is an editorial – the same for all leaflets – presenting Lutte Ouvrière’s position on current political issues. The other side has short articles – they change from company to company – written by members of Lutte Ouvrière workplace groups and that focus on working and living conditions inside the company. The leaflets are free but collections are regularly organized to help finance them.

European heads of state and government recently gathered in Brussels with a view to finding a solution to the so-called “migrant crisis”. An agreement was reached, but it only confirmed the measures that have already brought shame on the Europe of the rich. This agreement is designed to force migrants to stay in the poorest countries of the world and to ensure that women, children and men who try to escape misery and war continue to be treated like criminals.

Governments hosting far-right ministers went home triumphant from the summit. But what about the political leaders who, like Macron, claim to defend a European ideal? Their hypocrisy is despicable! They make resounding speeches exposing the dangers of nationalism and xenophobia but the words they use to justify their rejection of migrants are the words of the far right.

For instance, Macron refuses to open French harbors to NGO-sponsored rescue ships. He claims that the NGOs which look after migrants are (more…)