images (4)by Don Franks

On March 28th, year 193AD, Roman Emperor Pertinax was assassinated by Praetorian Guards. Who then put the throne up for sale, won by the highest bidder, one Didius Julianus.

Northland’s March 28by-election is shaping up to a similar level of horse trading.

The by-election was prompted by the resignation of Northland MP Mike Sabin, who’d won the seat for National with a majority of more than 9,000 at the September general election.

The ballot paper for the by-election shows eleven candidates, but all eyes are on just one of them – NZ First’s Winston Peters.

This is because on current polling Peters is in a strong position to take the seat off National, thus removing their majority in the House.

Most of the left share Peters' kiwi nationalism

Most of the left share Peters’ kiwi nationalism

Such a removal of National’s majority is seen as a plus for the Parliamentary opposition. It puts National in a difficult position, having to negotiate across the House for every Bill.

Over-reverence for parliament among New Zealand leftists means a dig at National is worth almost any compromise. Even unprincipled compromise.

In some unexpected quarters, support for Winston Peters is strong. Even among Read the rest of this entry »

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Cuban militia women in front of building with mural of Che Guevara

Early 1900s Irish republican women's movement, Cumann na mBan: no liberation without the liberation of women

Early 1900s Irish republican women’s movement, Cumann na mBan: no liberation without the liberation of women

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day.  Below are links to a number of the pieces that have appeared on Redline about women’s oppression and the struggle for emancipation.

The real meaning of International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day – solidarity and struggle

Reclaim International Women’s Day from the bosses

Rosa Luxemburg on Marxism, class struggle and the fight for women’s right to vote

download (1)The working class militants who took International Women’s Day to Australia

Remaking the case for a woman’s right to choose

Getting abortion out of the Crimes Act

Abortion rights in New Zealand

Women’s liberation – time for a new movement

Working class women at Ford Dagenham fighting for equal pay

Working class women at Ford Dagenham fighting for equal pay in 1968

Class, gender, the 1960s and Made in Dagenham 

The birth of the pill

The poverty of patriarchy theory

The impact of women’s changing role in the workplace

Marxism and the fight for women’s liberation (2004)

Marxism and women’s liberation today (2014)

Factory occupation in Argentina discusses workers power and women’s liberation in the Russian Revolution

Women’s liberation versus capitalist quota ‘equality’

Related reading: Marxism and gay liberation

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Women members of the Kurdish militias fighting ISIS. Picture: Reuters.

 

And if you're a capitalist and any of these characteristics become a problem you can call on the capitalist state to circumvent the free market; if you're a worker it's actually illegal most of the time to set the price for sale (of your labour-power)

Gerard Lameiro’s ‘Nine characteristics of a free market’.  But if you’re a capitalist and any of these characteristics become a problem you can call on the capitalist state to nanny you  and circumvent the free market; if you’re a worker it’s actually illegal most of the time to set the price of your labour-power

by Phil Duncan

The list of ‘private enterprise’ elements that simply can’t cope with the operations of the market continues to grow.

For instance, we’ve had dairy farmers who require state money for irrigation when, surely, they should be relying on the market – sell shares in the business, attract financial investment from and on the market, or whatever.  Anything but nanny state money, surely?

In Christchurch, we have businesspeople in the CBD with their hands out for nanny state support, rather than relying on the operations of their beloved, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-providing market to set, maintain and raise the price-value of their properties and businesses.

We have huge companies, like Hollywood movie outfits and Rio Tinto, who require nanny state intervention.  The movie moguls got the nanny state National government to intervene in the market for labour-power by passing laws restricting what workers (labour-power) could do, while Rio Tinto requires the nanny state to intervene to guarantee cheaper than market prices for resources that it uses, like electricity.

And, of course, all laws which inhibit the right of workers to withdraw their labour or organise collectively for their interests are – surely? – nanny state interference with the free market.

The latest bunch of sorry capitalists whining about the operations of the market are a bunch of Queenstown employers.  They are upset that people aren’t lining up to work for them for the minimum wage of $14.75 an hour.

But doesn’t capitalist economics tell us it’s all about supply and demand.  You have to work to these.  So if $14.85 isn’t getting workers queuing up, then surely that’s the market sending a message that the pay being offered isn’t high enough?  Shouldn’t the government be upholding the free market and telling Queenstown bosses, “You’ll have to offer more, folks!  You can’t buck the market.”

However, rather than meeting the market, Queenstown employers wanting more workers are pushing for nanny state to organise the supply for them.

Far from upholding market principles, associate tourism minister Paula Bennett and immigration minister Michael Woodhouse leapt quickly Read the rest of this entry »

male-associate-carts-129863378394683634The past several decades in New Zealand have seen an expansion of part-time, casual, precarious and zero-hours contract employment.  While we’re far from Third World conditions, we do have a substantial low-wage economy compared to the several decades immediately after the Second World War.  The article below is about the American situation and we don’t necessarily agree with all the writer’s formulations – for instance, the catch-all way the term ‘neoliberalism’ is used – but it is an excellent investigation of the subject and highly relevant to what has been happening here.   

by Trish Kahle

The struggles of fast-food, retail, and other service workers since 2012 have thrust the issue of low-wage work into the national spotlight and shifted the national debate over whether to raise the minimum wage from the federally mandated non-tipped wage of $7.25 per hour. Courageous workers like George Walker, a cabin cleaner at Philadelphia International Airport, have begun challenging their impoverishment as corporate profits soar. “I am over fifty,” Walker said, “and tired of living in poverty.” Walker—forced to choose between paying for his wife’s medicine and covering the family’s housing costs—and other workers like him who have joined organizing campaigns, have highlighted the moral depravity of companies that sweep aside the daily struggles of workers in order to maximize profits. Yet even as public opinion has shifted decisively in favor of raising the minimum wage, the size of the low-wage workforce has continued to grow. Nearly 40 percent of American workers earn less than the $15.00 an hour demanded by the low-wage workers movement,1 and the experience of low-wage work is a common one. Still, myths abound about low-wage labor, its origins, and the workers who perform it. The ruling class has much at stake in this fight in which workers confront not only their wages and working conditions, but the ideological apparatus of neoliberalism, which stresses individual responsibility and deregulation. Neoliberal policies, media myths, and the intersection with oppression that many low-wage workers face collude to keep them marginalized. This persists even as their labor, particularly the labor of those in industries like healthcare and education, remain central drivers of economic growth.2

Though the recent struggles of low-wage workers, particularly those in the Fight for 15, have focused on the ideological changes and declining living standards that resulted from neoliberal transformation, Marxists understand that low-wage labor is more than a blip in capitalism’s history. Rather, the tendency toward low-wage labor is embedded in Read the rest of this entry »

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The EnviroWaste trucks should be two-person operated

by Don Franks

Junior Hunt, a 20-year-old recycling truck driver critically injured by the machine he was operating, has died.

In an awful accident that need not have happened.

The worker, caught in the mechanism of an EnviroWaste recycling truck in Thorndon, Wellington was found unconscious but still alive by a member of the public. There was some delay before anyone could be found who knew how to release the machinery and free the trapped injured man.

“We are devastated by this tragedy,” EnviroWaste chief executive Gary Saunders said. Mr Saunders added that  family and staff had been offered counselling and other support as they began to work through their grief.

“We will endeavour to understand how and why this accident happened – this is our commitment to Junior’s memory and his family.”

He said the company would continue to work with authorities as investigations into the circumstances of the accident were carried out over the coming weeks.

This model of EnviroWaste truck has been a familiar sight in our street for a couple of years.

I have always hated the sight of it.

The truck model is a single-operating one. The machine is designed so that the Read the rest of this entry »

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We’ve updated our 2012 article on low pay, longer hours and less social mobility to include material on zero-hour contracts.  See: Low pay, longer hours and less social mobility: welcome to 21st century New Zealand capitalism

There are also some very good pieces about zero-hours contracts and the fast food industry over on The Wireless:

Stacey Knott’s Fast food and low wages

Megan Whelan’s Zero tolerance for zero hours

Megan Whelan also looks at the impact of the government’s new workplace laws: Storm in a tea break

Elle Hunt looks at unpaid internships: ‘A messy area’ of the law

The campaign against zero-hours contracts is being spearheaded by Unite Union.  The union’s website has frequent coverage of the campaign and stories about workers affected by these horrendous contracts.  Check out: http://www.unite.org.nz/

For an excellent Marxist dissection of low pay and casualised labour, see The political economy of low-wage labour.

 

In late January of this year food workers at a factory in Dandenong, Victoria, carried out a five-day occupation which led to their demands being met

In late January of this year food workers at a factory in the Melbourne suburb of Dandenong carried out a five-day occupation which led to their demands being met – a solid wage rise and the maintenance of conditions the bosses had sought to erode

by Steph Price

“I must admit, it seemed such a wild idea.” A shop steward recounts the moment when workers at her factory hit on a plan to occupy their canteen in a dispute about jobs. Mass retrenchments at the Sanyo television factory in Wodonga had been coming in waves.

“We had to try something which was completely different and catch the company off guard”, she said. They called it a “work-in”. It was a last stand.

“It’s just one of those things where you’re sitting there and suddenly you say, ‘Well, damn it. I don’t see why we should be retrenched. Just refuse to leave. We won’t accept it.’

“Straight after work in the afternoon, a group of people stayed here while the other group zipped home to get sleeping gear and organise food, because they were two problems we had to get straight.”

For 10 days in the winter of 1978, workers at the Sanyo factory worked on the production lines during the day and slept in the canteen at night. Their actions were enough to stem the job losses for a time. The factory stayed open for almost another decade.

The process itself was transformative, Read the rest of this entry »