Tomorrow, November 19, marks the 5th aniversary of the deaths of 29 mine workers at Pike River.

These workers didn’t die in one of those freak tragic accidents that just happens and nothing much could have stopped it.

Their deaths were the result of a combination of dangerous conditions and poor safety.  Neither National (who were the government at the time) nor Labour (who were in power when the mine was created and who gave it the go ahead) nor the EPMU (whose leader was current Labour Party leader Andrew Little, who supported the mine and OKed its safety) come out of this well.

National would rather the whole thing was brushed under the carpet, while Labour and the EPMU leadership would prefer all the blame was placed on National.

There should have been a major, national campaign around the Pike River deaths.  There wasn’t because Key moved adroitly to defuse the issue and kill it with sympathy, while both Labour and the CTU had no interest in such a public campaign because it would lead to awkward questions about their own duplicity.

What happened at Pike River indicates the urgent need for workers to take control of on-the-job safety.  It also indicates the wider need for a new working class movement.  One based on the actual needs of workers, rather than career politicians and company profits.  And that means, too, no union links with or support for capitalist parties like Labour.  And it means the election and right of recall in relation to all union officials.

Please circulate the links to the articles below as widely as possible.

And, if you’re interested in the idea of building a working class current across the labour movement and the wider working class – most workers not being unionised – please get in touch with us.

Below are articles about the Pike River explosions that killed 29 miners and the subsequent manoeuvrings by the company, the government and the EPMU leaders around the issue. They’re in chronological order, starting with the first article and ending with the most recent:

Pike River Blues
Pike River lessons
Pike River: ‘cashflow’ versus workers’ safety
Pike River company’s safety breaches killed 29 workers – it’s official
What’s the latest at Pike River?
Pike River third anniversary
Pike River injustice: taking up Helen Kelly’s offer
Pike River – the final cover-up?

paris-350x175The article below is from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and appeared on their site on November 14.

Responsibility for the heinous massacre that took place in Paris last night, claiming the lives of at least 120 innocent people, lies primarily with colonialism, imperialism, and the murderous criminal takfiri* forces, and particularly with the United States, the French state and their reactionary tools in the region, said Comrade Khaled Barakat, coordinator of the international Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat.

In an interview with the PFLP information department, Barakat said that “the fascist right wing and the Zionist enemy are the sole beneficiaries of this heinous crime, which is a net profit for them. Arabs, and in particular Palestinians, are and will pay the price of both the attacks that took place in Bourj al-Barajneh in south Beirut against innocent people, and those in Paris, also against civilians.” Barakat pointed to “a wave of racism that some are trying to incite in Read the rest of this entry »

Emergency personnel gather at the site of a twin suicide bombing in Burj al-Barajneh, in the southern suburbs of the capital Beirut on November 12, 2015 (AFP PHOTO/ANWAR AMRO)

Emergency personnel gather at the site of a twin suicide bombing in Burj al-Barajneh, in the southern suburbs of the capital Beirut on November 12, 2015 (AFP PHOTO/ANWAR AMRO)

While the Western media has focused on the bombings in Paris, dozens were killed and hundreds injured the previous night by bombings in Beirut.  Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the bombings, having targeted Shi’a areas (IS sees Shi’a Muslims as being apostates).  Below is a PFLP statement put out just after the bombings, before IS claimed them; the PFLP, understandably but incorrectly, attributes them to the Israeli ‘intelligence’ – ie Israeli state-terrorist outfit – Mossad. 

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) writes:

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine denounced the horrific criminal bombings in Bourj al-Barajneh, in southern Beirut on Thursday evening, which killed dozens and injured hundreds in a working-class neighborhood that has always been a home of dignity and resistance. Comrade Abu Ahmad Fuad, the Deputy General Secretary of the PFLP, sent his sincere condolences to the Lebanese people and to the Lebanese resistance in the face of this crime.

In an interview on Al-Mayadeen TV, Fuad said that the massacre bears the hallmarks of the Read the rest of this entry »

by Michael Roberts

Most years I attend the London conference of the Historical Materialism journal.  This brings together academics and others to present papers and discuss issues from a generally Marxist viewpoint.  This year I presented a paper on whether rising inequality causes crises under capitalism (Does inequality causes crises).  My session was well attended and the audience included many of the small band of Marxist economist s around at the moment.

The gist of what I said was this.  Rising inequality of income and wealth in the major economies has become a popular thesis among both mainstream and heterodox economists.  The thesis is founded on the arguments that wages as a share of GDP have been falling in the major economies. This creates a gap between demand and supply, or a tendency to underconsumption.  That gap was filled by an explosion of debt, particularly household debt.  It is also encouraged financial institutions to engage in riskier financial investments that exposed them to eventual disaster.  The credit boom fuelled a housing bubble but eventually that burst and the house of cards came tumbling down.  QED?

My paper attempted to refute this theory of crisis with the following simple Read the rest of this entry »

Above: La Carillon. The terrorist attacks particularly targeted places where "mainly young, anti-racist, multi-ethnic Parisians hang out."

Above: La Carillon. The terrorist attacks particularly targeted places where “mainly young, anti-racist, multi-ethnic Parisians hang out.”

by Kenan Malik

The horrors unleashed on the streets of Paris on Friday night took place against the background of two major ongoing international crises: The first is the Syrian conflict and the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and the second is the refugee crisis that now besets Europe.

The entry of Russia has escalated the conflict in Syria. The day before the Paris attacks, an American air strike was believed to have killed “Jihadi John”, a British national who had joined ISIL and become an important propaganda tool.

Meanwhile, more than half-a-million migrants and refugees, many from Syria, have arrived at Europe’s southern and eastern borders this year alone. The failure of the EU coherently to address the issue has created major political conflicts between the EU member states, fuelled hostility towards migrants and refugees, and boosted the fortunes of populist parties.

Many have inevitably looked to these two crises as explanations for the Paris atrocities. Some have seen the terrorism as the consequence of French foreign policy in Syria, others of lax immigration controls that have allowed terrorists to enter Europe. Both arguments seem superficially self-evident. But both are profoundly untrue.

Pluralism attacked

ISIL has officially claimed responsibility for the attacks. One of the terrorists in the Bataclan theatre, where about 80 people were slaughtered, was said to have shouted: “This is for Syria.” Yet, we should be wary of seeing these attacks as a response, however perverted, to French, or Western, foreign policy.

The terrorists did not target symbols of the French state, or of French militarism. They did not even target tourist spots. They targeted, rather, the areas and the places where mainly young, anti-racist, multi-ethnic Parisians hang out.

The cafes, restaurants, bars and music venue that were Read the rest of this entry »

Protest called by Global Peace and Justice (Auckland) and supported by Unite trade union, Australian

Protest called by Global Peace and Justice (Auckland) and supported by Unite trade union, Australian Consulate, Auckland, Wednesday, Nov 11

by Philip Ferguson

As a major article we put up on this blog a few days noted in some detail, the detention of people on Christmas Island is a horrendous breach of human rights (see here).  Even usually bland NZ TV reporters and commentators have felt compelled to criticise the treatment of asylum-seekers, refugees and NZ citizens facing deportation from ‘The Lucky Country’.  Finally having had enough of the mistreatment a section of those being held in what is effectively a concentration camp on the island, led it seems by NZ deportees, staged a revolt on Sunday night/Monday morning (see here).  The revolt has been put down by the authorities and some of those sick of being treated liked abused animals have been removed to prison in Perth and potentially face serious charges.

There is no indication so far from the Australian government that any changes will be made to the regime and conditions at the concentration camp, let alone any rethink around asylum and refugee issues or around the deportation of what are really Australians – but happen to hold NZ citizenship – back to this side of the ditch.

The terrible situation and conditions of the detainees on Christmas Island – desperate asylum-seekers and NZers facing deportation back here, to a country they may not have lived in for decades – is, however, being lost in the stage performances being put on by very comfortable $150,000-a-year-plus-benefits-and-allowances middle class politicians who seem to think it’s all about them.  (And that’s just the salary of a ‘lowly’ MP.)

Key clearly Read the rest of this entry »

The detention centre on Christmnas Island is really a concentration camp

The detention centre on Christmnas Island is really a concentration camp


 Press release earlier today by Refugee Action Coalition in Australia:


Around 50 people have spent the night on the oval (green zone) of Christmas Island detention centre, as more police and Serco guards gather on the perimeter of the centre.

As of 2.30am Christmas Island time, no attempt had been made by police or guards to re-enter the detention centre. Late yesterday, television had been cut off to the centre. Some food had been left at the gate of the centre and detainees told to collect it. Armed police and others in full riot gear can be seen outside the detention fences. Detainees report that drones have been circulating over the centre and the Federal police have been issuing instructions through a megaphone to ‘dump any weapons and return to your rooms.’

Most detainees have remained in the accommodation blocks in any case. “The government talks about ‘restoring order’ in the centre, but restoring order to the riot police and Serco’s Emergency Response Team will only mean a return of the brutal rule of force inside the detention centre, that led to the explosion on Christmas Island.

“The ‘behavioural management’ regime inside Christmas Island is reminiscent of the behaviour familiar in Read the rest of this entry »