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Archive of Communist Workers Group of Aoteaora/New Zealand up to 2006

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General Strike to Bring Down Howard!

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Recently the NZCTU organized solidarity rallies in New Zealand in support of the ACTUs national day of community protest against Howard’s’ union busting legislation.

CWG supported the rallies but distributed a leaflet critical of the ACTUs electoral strategy to defeat Howard, and calling for a General Strike.

So the CTU wants unionists to turn out to their ‘protests’ on Tuesday in support of the ACTU national day of ‘community’ action. We should certainly get along there and raise our voices. But what should we say? Only trust the CTU heads or the ACTU heads as far as we can kick them!

The problem in 1991 and the campaign against the Employment Contracts Bill was that apart from a few small strikes, we were limited by the CTU leadership to ‘protests’. We didn’t force a general strike. The mass memberships of the unions were overwhelmingly in favour of at least a ‘national strike’. It was the CTU and union bureaucracy that stood in the road of a general strike. Even a strike that took the whole country out for 1, 2 or 3 days would have been better than nothing. If we had gone down in defeat it would have made the job of screwing the unions more difficult than it was in the 1990s.

The problem was that the rank and file of the unions did not exist independently of the bureaucracy and the ground swell of members’ anger was sold out by a small minority of officials. The CTU today is no different to the CTU that sold out the fight against the ECA in 1991. It is a labour bureaucracy committed to a partnership with the bosses on the bosses’ terms – sufficient profits.

It’s ‘protest’ is part of the Aussie wide national day of action organised by the ACTU. So as we would expect instead of the rallying cry being ‘workers unite to kill this union smashing Bill” we have the ACTU taking the line that ‘Aussies’ should unite because the Bill is ‘un-Australian’. What this means is that the ACTU is expecting to negotiate a better Bill without coordinated strike action – that appealing to public opinion will make Howard very unpopular and he will withdraw the most offending parts of the Bill.

Where have we heard this one before? Remember Ken Douglas getting up on the stage of the Auckland Town Hall telling the packed hall that ‘he’ would negotiate with the National government to improve the Bill? No strikes because that might make the government unwilling to negotiate. In fact we now know that Bill Birch was prepared to back off parts of the Bill if he had meet solid industrial action.

‘Un-Australian’? NO! Appealing to national sentiment to back negotiations is a sellout to the bosses. Australia is a capitalist, imperialist country, and until workers rise up and take power, Australia belongs to the bosses. If this Bill goes through workers will belong to the bosses too on individual nose-ring contracts. Right now it’s workers who have to be ‘un-Australian’ by chucking this patriotic bullshit of class unity behind the Aussie flag back in Howard’s face.

The 15th and thereafter should be devoted to preparing the Australian unions for a general strike to bring down Howard. We should be raising the red flag and the flag of the Eureka stockade not the Aussie flag with its symbolism of British imperialism and colonialism in the South Pacific.

NZ unions can play a vital role in this by refusing to handle trans-tasman sea or air cargo that breaks Aussie picket lines, like the seafarers voted to do during the big MUA blue in 1998. Meanwhile those of us who are committed to rebuilding the unions on the basis of democratic rank and file control should get along to these ‘protests’ as militant members of our unions and argue that appeals to nationalism are defeatist and that what is needed is a general strike to dump Howard.

Postscript: Predictable Results

There was a lot of self-congratulation following the massive turnouts on November 15. But as CWG predicted, these massive street rallies went nowhere. They were designed to create the impression that mass pressure could bring about electoral change. Howard ignored and insulted the turnout. Result?

True to form the ACTU has subordinated militant rank and file opposition to Howard’s Bill to an electoralist strategy of defeating Howard at the polls ‘next time’ and taking up Labor’s ‘offer’ to scrap the legislation. Pathetic!

What does Green Left have to say about this? It covers for the ACTU by refusing to call for a general strike, instead playing up the radical rhetoric of certain unions to stage industrial action at some future point. Pathetic!

Deputy Sheriff Howard No 2 Terrorist

Howard’s anti-terror squads stake out and raid a number of homes, arrest scores, shoot to kill, all to protect ‘us’ from terrorists.

But he is the No 2 terrorist. Aussie bosses backed Uncle Sam in Vietnam, terrorising and killing millions. They backed overthrowing Sukhano and the killing of half a million in an anti-communist purge in 1965. Aussie bosses backed Suhato’s invasion of East Timor in 1975 and the killing of another half million. Now Aussie bosses back Bush in Iraq and the US ruling class WOT.

How to fight back? Its no accident that Howard is copying Bush in the class war. His attacks on democratic rights come hand in hand with the attacks on labor rights. Aussie capitalism needs to smash the unions to boost the profits of monopoly capital. Any attempt to align politically with the ‘enemy’ of Howard’s ruling class will make you a terrorist suspect. The anti-terror laws are class laws designed to smash workers resistance.

The unions have to stand up and strike back against both attacks.

On the 15 November the ACTU has to be bombarded with demands to build a general strike to bring the Howard Government down!

From Class Struggle 64 Nov 05/Jan 06

Defeat Bush, Howard & Clark’s War Of Terror

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Support the Dec 1 US Nationwide Strike against Poverty, Racism and War!

NZ out of Afghanistan! Stop ANZ war profiteering! International Day of Solidarity with Venezuela, December 2! Unite Workers Against the War Of Terror!

Bosses’ posse

The US imperialist sheriff and his Deputy, John Howard, closely followed by the Deputy’s Dog, Helen Clark, are riding roughshod over the oppressed of this world. They are doing this because US imperialism and its weaker allies such as Australia, Britain and Italy, and its ‘good friends’ like NZ , must grab what is left of the world’s resources to overcome the crisis of monopoly capitalism caused by falling profits.

The cynical wars for ‘democracy’ and the ‘cancelled’ debt in Africa and Iraq are a cover for monopoly capitals plans to re-colonise the world.

In the Pacific region the ‘peacekeeping’ role of Australia and NZ is a front for monopoly capitalism’s plunder of the Pacific’s economic resource base and reserve of migrant labour.

When this fails and resistance rises up against the WOT, domestic anti-terror laws are used to criminalize and jail political opponents of the WOT.

To defeat the WOT it is necessary for workers to mobilize internationally against the roots of the WOT, the crisis-ridden global capitalist economy that threatens to destroy humanity and nature.

War Of Terror

Bush and his neo-cons planned the WOT well before 9/11 to occupy Afghanistan and get a strangle hold on the Central Asian oilfields. Then they lied about WMD to invade Iraq to gain control of Iraqi oil from China, Russia and the EU, and bust the OPEC cartel.

The new Iraqi Constitution guarantees Big Oil like Exxon-Mobil, Shell etc around 80% control of Iraqi oil. Big Oil is backed up by the IMF, WB and the JP Morgan bank consortium (which includes ANZ ) to ‘reconstruct’ Iraq along the lines of a free market where monopoly corporates like Halliburton, Bechtel etc., can rip off the tiny share of oil wealth left in the hands of Iraqis.

The scandal of ‘kickbacks’ paid to Saddam Hussein during the UN imposed ‘oil for food’ scheme in the 1990s is a smokescreen designed to blame companies like Fonterra which supplied vital imports during the embargo which killed a million Iraqis, and to cover up the ruthless imperialist multibillion dollar plunder of Iraq planned in the 1990s and now being put in place.

The imperialist posse is using the WOT to invade, terrorise and recolonise oil rich and mineral rich countries. Not just pre-emptive wars against Afghanistan, Haiti and Iraq, but the threat of preventative war against Cuba, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

The US justifies this mounting genocide, terror and torture as a war for ‘democracy’ against Islamic ‘fundamentalism’, ‘drug cartels’ or ‘rogue states’ for which they themselves are responsible.

From the Taliban and Saddam Hussein to Castro, Chavez and Aristide these regimes are the product of US imperialist policies that created the oppressive conditions out of which they emerged as allies or opponents.

The WOT has got nothing to do with ‘democracy’ and everything to do with eliminating ‘rogue’ nationalist regimes and imposing imperialism’s dictatorship under the cover of ‘democracy’. Thus the recent Iraqi Constitution was dictated by the US to guarantee continued control of Iraq oil by Big Oil and Big Banks.

Anti-terror torture laws

Imperialism and its allies suppress rising opposition at home with draconian anti-terror laws that allow the arrest, incarceration and torture of ‘suspects’ without legal rights.

Blair used the London bombings to immediately suspend basic civil rights and authorised a ‘shoot to kill’ policy the led to the killing of the Brazilian migrant worker John Charles de Menezes.

Bush’s FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Authority) was empowered to suspend civil rights in the emergency of the aftermath of Katrina. Workers can be drafted to work gangs and shot for ‘looting’ food and water for their survival while the corporates move in to profiteer from the reconstruction of New Orleans just like they do in Iraq!

Emboldened by Bush, Howard has used the hysteria following recent bombings in Indonesia to deport a visiting US non-violent protest advocate, and to rush through anti-terror laws that include suspension of habeas corpus and ‘shoot-to-kill’.

NZ rapidly passed anti-terror laws legislation modeled on US and UK laws to earn its share of the spoils that fall off the imperialists table. In the Ahmed Zaoui case it used ‘intelligence’ passed on by the French state that fought a bloody colonial war against Algeria to lock up Zaoui as a suspect terrorist. NZ remains an integral part of ‘Echelon’ the US imperialist spy network that monitors internet communications.

Attack on Labor

At the same time the imperialists and their allies impose new labour laws to smash the unions and defeat organised labour as it begins to mobilize against the WOT.

Bush found bipartisan allies in the AFL-CIO to block the Million Worker March against the war in Iraq during the last Presidential election campaign. US corporates are outsourcing most of their production and for twenty years have used bankruptcy laws to close plants, cut jobs, wages and conditions of their remaining US workers in steel, airline and auto industries.

After abandoning the poor people of New Orleans, Bush suspended labour and health and safety laws to rebuild New Orleans with poor, migrant workers. New Orleans his is a metaphor for US imperialism’s attacks on its own workers rights, wages and social security. The vast majority of US workers are not covered by any decent public health or pension entitlements while CEOs payouts are in the millions of dollars.

Howard’s workplace ‘reforms’ are designed to smash the unions and put workers on individual contracts so they have no power to prevent the complete erosion of their past gains like overtime and holiday pay. In this way Howard hopes to follow NZ’s lead in the 1990s in cutting labour costs and boosting the profits of monopoly capital.

Clark’s new Labour led government has moved right in agreements with NZ First and United Future. NZ First will try to shut down the border to migrant workers and refugees.

Fight the WOT as a class war!

The WOT is a continuation of imperialist neo-colonial politics which is itself the symptom of the global economic crisis. To restore profits, imperialism must cut costs.

This is what is behind the ‘drive to the bottom’ – the sourcing of the cheapest supplies of raw materials and labour world wide by monopoly banks, energy corporations and manufacturers. The effect is to concentrate and centralise production and destroy the forces of production. Nature is depleted and exhausted and the surplus population is killed off by endemic disease, overwork or genocide.

There is nothing ‘progressive’ about imperialist globalisation and free trade or investment. In China today, the restoration of capitalism has created a huge multi-million reserve army of cheap labor to boost the profits of monopoly capital. Despite the problems of the former state economy the masses’ needs were better served than by the capitalist world market.

The only way to defeat imperialist destruction of humanity is to eliminate its roots in the capitalist system and replace it with a socialist planned society. Fighting back against the imperialist military machine, and mutinies within imperialist armies, can inflict defeats but they cannot win a decisive victory.
The world proletariat must fight a class war to politicise the masses, win over the rank and file of the imperialist armies, and occupy and control vital economic resources. The vital steps towards this socialist revolution are workers’ and peasants’ militias, a popular constituent assembly and workers ownership and control of production, distribution and exchange.

Victory to Iraq and Venezuela!

Leading the fight back today is the armed resistance and rebuilt unions of Iraq, and the workers movement of Venezuela. Here the defence of national self-determination can only be realised by the mobilisation of the workers to found their own state and plan for a socialist economy.

Victory to Iraq!

For a Popular Constituent Assembly!

US reparations for reconstruction!

Big Oil, Big Banks Out!

Bush Out!

For workers control of the reconstruction of New Orleans!

US Hands Off Venezuela!

No Venezuelan Oil for the WOT!

End the US blockade of Cuba!

Destroy Guantanamo!

US and Latin American troops out of Haiti! Reinstate Aristide!

Bring down the Howard Government!

No WOT laws!

No workplace ‘reform’!

NZ Troops out of Afghanistan!

Occupy and Nationalise Air NZ under workers’ control!

No to FTAs with Chile, China and the US! Socialise Big Oil, Big Banks and MNCs!

For Workers’ and Peasants’ Governments!

For a United States of Socialist Republics of the Pacific!

Build and International Workers opposition to the WOT!

International solidarity with the December 1st US Nationwide Strike against Poverty, Racism and War!

International Day of Solidarity with Venezuela, December 2nd!

WAWOT (Workers Against the War on Terror) 027 2800080

From Class Struggle 64 Nov 05/Jan 06

Written by raved

January 6, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Labour Party Conference hosts UK Blairite Warmonger Peter Hain

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The following is a report on a demonstration organized by Direct Antiwar Action (Dawa) against the visit of Peter Hain as guest of the NZ Labour Party last November.

Send UK warmonger Peter Hain home!

Protest Sunday 14th at 8-30 am, Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna.

DAWA (Direct Anti-War Action) and other anti-war groups are organising a protest outside the Labour Party Conference, Sunday 8-30 am.
Prominent Labour Party Minister and Leader of the House in Blair’s Government, Peter Hain, is due to speak at the Conference at 9 am.

Despite a record as an anti-apartheid activist and founder of the Anti-Nazi League in Britain in the 1970’s Hain is now an apologist for Blair’s invasion of Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein.

NZ Labour is trading on its ‘liberal reputation’ in only supporting the Gulf War UN sanctions during the 1990s to kill half-a-million kids, and not supporting the US-UK led invasion of 2003.

By bringing Hain to address them NZ Labour is showing that it does not care that this man supports the US-UK invasion and that its own refusal to support the invasion was unimportant. It is more interested in using Hain to provide a rationale for its ‘left Blairism’ in NZ.

We reject Labour’s hypocrisy on the war on Iraq that is flaunted in our face by the presence of this British warmonger. Here is a quote from an interview with Hain made earlier in the year:

Peter Hain said:

I certainly stand by my reason for backing the action to get rid of Saddam Hussein. I saw clear evidence from intelligence sources about Saddam’s possession of weapons of mass destruction which the UN itself set out in resolution 1441. And of course he had used chemical weapons against the Iranians and the Kurds. We will have to see the outcome of the Iraq Survey Group but its former head David Kay, whilst acknowledging that he had not discovered militarized chemical weapons, also said in statements to the US congress which were hardly if at all reported, that he was even more shocked at what he found about Saddam’s WMD programs than he had expected and thought it was essential to have got rid of him.

I respect those who disagree with our action in Iraq who included relatives and friends. All I ask is that they and you accept that the government acted honestly in what we genuinely thought and still do, was the best interests of the Iraqi people, the wider region and the whole world.

On the 45-minute claim, the Hutton report confirmed that this had been accurately reported in the dossier. Indeed there was nothing in the dossier that went in against the wishes of the intelligence services. The 45-minute claim played no part in the critical parliamentary debate in March last year which led to a vote authorizing the action in Iraq. It was not relied upon by the PM in his opening speech or referred to by any other MP, so for me it was not a crucial issue. As I’ve said already he had already used WMD on his own people and fired missiles into Kuwait and Israel so we were not dealing with some hypothetical situation. …the inquiry into the leaking of the Hutton report, which I and the rest of the government wholly condemned, is being carried out by Lord Hutton himself fully independent of government. No doubt he will report his findings in due course.”

DAWA (Direct Anti-War Action) FFI ring Keith (09) 8369104

Workers against the War on Terror
Next Meeting: Sat March 5th 4-7pm
Grey Lynn Community Centre
Agenda includes:
· Building rank and file opposition to the War on Terror
· Organising solidarity with the Million Worker March against the war in Iraq on 19th March

Rank and file workers need to organize in the international labour movement to support the workers movement in Iraq to defeat the occupation and demand a Constituent Assembly. No to the WOT! No to attacks on Iran, North Korea! Cuba! Venezuela!

Report on Workers Forum held at Grey Lynn Community Centre 9th December
The meeting was hosted by the Communist Workers Group but those present represented a wider range of political positions. This short report is an attempt to summarise the basic concerns expressed and the types of actions needed. Those present on December 9, all active rank and file unionists, or with experience in unions, including: Engineers (EPMU); Maritime and Rail; NDU (Woodies); Service and Food; UNITE! (Waitemata); Association of University Staff (AUS); Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (ASTE)

Organising rank and file workers to take industrial action against the war

IMMEDIATELY Bush was re-elected he invaded and destroyed Fallujah. He authorised the use of napalm and many badly burned bodies have been found. The US ruling class and their front man Bush will stop at no act of barbarism to recolonise Iraq and rip off its oil wealth.

There has been a muted response in the West. Where are the millions who were on the streets in February 2003? The sad fact is that many Western workers are demoralised by Bush’s reelection. They put their hopes in a Vietnam warmonger Kerry to rescue them from Iraq. False hopes!

Time to organise! Begging our leaders to get out of Iraq or to put pressure on Bush and Blair is futile. European Union leaders and Howard and Clark are all sucking up to Bush to get some of the spoils of war, via free trade agreements and more US Yankee dollars. Only the workers can stop the barbarism of the War on Terror from spreading and creating more Iraqs, more Guantanamos and many more victims like Ahmed Zaoui in every country.

Yet all is not lost! In Iraq, despite the treacherous factional leaders who use the masses as cannon fodder while they compete to do deals with the invaders – like the Sunni bosses who ran away from Fallujah leaving their militants to be slaughtered in the US attack – workers are rebuilding the smashed workers organizations.

Unions are forming; workers are defending their jobs arms in hand, and striking against the invaders. They are getting support from the international working class.

In Venezuela, workers have formed an anti-imperialist front to demand that President Chavez stops selling oil to the US to use in its War on Terror military machine. In the US the Million Worker March unionists are organising a week of action against the war from December 3-11. In Aotearoa-NZ it is time that we organised in the unions to get support for the Iraqi trade unionists and in solidarity with international workers actions such as the week of December 3-11.

Communist Workers Group are hosting this forum in solidarity with the Iraqi workers, the Venezuelan anti-imperialist fighters, the US Million Worker March against the war, and workers everywhere who are organising an international workers movement to Defend Iraq and stop imperialist war.

The two main areas of concern and need for activity expressed were:

First, building solidarity in NZ unions for the rebuilding of worker organizations in Iraq including the unemployed and women’s organizations. This does not exclude un-unionised workers; in fact it would make it a priority to unionise all unpaid domestic workers, unemployed workers, beneficiaries, ‘voluntary’ workers, youth, temporary or casual workers, workers forced into self-employment, migrant workers etc and to strive to rebuild the unions on the basis of rank and file democracy.

Second, information and actions that can be taken up by workers against the domestic WOT in NZ in particular the series of repressive laws that restrict basic freedoms to organise politically. It was observed that the NZ government is moving in line with the US to turn the WOT against NZ workers, e.g. restructuring the military and building more jails to deal with working class resistance. 

From Class Struggle 59 January-February 2005

MayDay! Workers of the World Unite!

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May 1 is International Workers’ Day! All around the world we are seeing those who are exploited and oppressed by capitalism and imperialism engaged in resistance struggles. In Aotearoa/New Zealand we need to rebuild a labour movement that can act in solidarity with this global resistance. We need to build unions that are democratic, independent, militant, and internationalist, as ‘schools for socialism’!

Workers commemorate past struggles and act in solidarity with present struggles. We remember the historic struggles of the Paris Commune of 1870, the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the heroic colonial revolutions such as the Chinese and Vietnamese. In NZ we celebrate the class battles of 1890, 1912-13 and 1951. These are the major milestones in the making of our class into that revolutionary force that has the power to overthrow capitalism and build socialism.

Workers resistance on the rise

Today the workers movement is weak and defensive. Years of defeat have pushed workers into retreat. But while capitalism can drive back workers struggles it cannot destroy the only class that creates its wealth. Around the world there are signs that workers are once again on the move. Imperialism is in deep crisis and can only survive that crisis by robbing workers and peasants of their resources, driving down their wages and making their lives miserable.

International resistance to imperialist rule is mounting. But the organisation of that resistance is still at a rudimentary level. Because of the weakness of the organised workers movement worldwide, resistance to oppression is taking forms that cut across working class solidarity and hold back the rise of international labour solidarity.

In Palestine and Iraq, the invaders have smashed working class organisations and are forcing workers into the arms of the bosses and Islamic clerics. Young workers are being driven to futile suicidal attacks against high-tech invading armies. Isolated and outgunned these ‘intifada’ can be smashed as in Palestine and Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda, the terrorist organisation funded by wealthy Saudis, is bombing and maiming Western workers to drive imperialism out of the Middle East, not to liberate Muslims but to make rich Arabs bosses even richer.

What we have to learn from all these struggles of oppressed peoples against imperialism is two things: first, the working class is the only class that can unite all the oppressed and defeat imperialism, and second, that the working class must be united internationally and led by a revolutionary party.

Why the working class?

The leadership of the national struggles against imperialism must come from the working class. Only the organised armed workers can turn resistance on the part of peasant and tribal fighters into a victorious defeat of imperialism. All other classes have an interest in doing deals with imperialism for a share of the wealth created by workers and peasants.

Workers, in opposing the system that exploits and oppresses them, have a class interest not only to defeat imperialism. They also have an interest to overthrow the national capitalist class and its hired politicians – including those who pose as friends of the workers like Arafat, Chavez or Lula. And workers have the means to do this as they can strike to close down the economy, arm themselves, win over sections of the military and take state power.

But even where workers are highly organised as they are in Bolivia, they have been cheated of power by class traitors in their own ranks. Armed peasants and miners led by militant trade unions have several times in the last decades been capable of taking power, only to be betrayed by leaders who do deals with imperialism to share the expropriated labour of workers and peasants.

To avoid repeating these defeats, we have to keep alive the lessons of the past as guides to action today. In Russia in 1917, the armed workers were led by a revolutionary party that defeated the treacherous sellout elements in their ranks and helped the struggle for national liberation to become a victorious socialist revolution. The difference between Russia in 1917, and the failed or incomplete revolutions in Germany 1919, Bolivia 1952, Cuba 1959, and Chile 1973, was the existence of a revolutionary party.

The second lesson is, that a victorious national liberation movements against imperialism cannot survive as independent workers’ state without the class solidarity of the workers in the imperialist countries, including their rich client states like New Zealand.

This is because these ‘Western’ workers are the only class that has the strength to shut down the imperialist economies and bring the war machine to a halt.

For example, it was the German workers who went on strike and the soldiers and sailors who mutinied in 1918 stopping the European imperialist powers from overwhelming and smashing the Russian Revolution at its birth. The workers in the imperialist countries are the only force with the power to stop their own bosses from invading, occupying and destroying other countries, by defeating the ‘main enemy’ at home.

The labour ‘aristocracy’

But there is a problem in building support for liberation struggles in the Western working class. Many workers are ‘bought off’ with high wages and back their bosses in imperialist wars. They are members of the labour ‘aristocracy’ whose wages are partly paid by the cheap labour of the ‘developing’ countries. Their unions are led by bureaucrats that manage labour relations within the law of the bosses’ state. They vote for reformist parties that claim to manage capitalism in the interests of ‘all classes’.

For example in the US, the main union organisation, the AFL-CIO, is proud of its ‘patriotism’ in supporting the ‘war on terror’, including the use of the Patriot Act to attack labor rights at home. Why? Because this war defends the interests of US workers whose jobs and wages depend on the strength of US imperialism. The AFL-CIO calls for votes for the Democratic Party, as the more union-friendly party of the US bosses, to deliver these jobs and wages.

This is why the vast majority of those millions of workers who opposed the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003, did little more than demonstrate in the streets or pray for peace. They thought that war was the wrong policy. And their pacifism is catching. When Bush abolished the labour rights of public employees after 9-11, there was no strike in response. Even the West Coast Longshoremen, traditionally one of the most militant US unions, loudly proclaimed their unrivalled patriotism and backed off an industrial dispute last year when Bush threatened to lock them up under the Patriot Act.

NZ workers sign up for imperialism

In NZ the CTU official stand on the ‘war on terror’ was to endorse the UN resolutions. While the Auckland CTU leadership took a more principled stand against a UN invasion of Iraq, the union movement in NZ has not taken any industrial action against the SAS being sent to Afghanistan or the Engineers to Iraq. NZ workers too are dominated by a union bureaucracy that banks its career paths on ‘lesser evil’ Labour governments or an alternative future Alliance/Green coalition managing a ‘peaceful and just’ capitalism.

Why? Because in NZ the most privileged workers in unions affiliated to the Labour Party and the ‘left’ parties, benefit from NZ’s military alliance with Australian and US imperialism. For example the Maritime Union ‘cabotage’ campaign appeals to NZ bosses to join forces with Australian imperialist bosses to keep ‘foreign’ workers on lower wages off local ships. And the EPMU is begging the Aussie military to contract out maintenance on its frigates to the Whangarei shipyard that helped to build these ANZAC frigates to police the Pacific on behalf of US and Australian imperialism’s interests.

Pacifism means sucking up to bosses

Thus the most privileged layers of Western workers depend for their jobs and incomes on direct or indirect benefits from imperialist military expenditure. Or on wars for oil, gas, copper, diamonds, fish etc whose proceeds trickle down into their jobs and pay packets. These unions are bureaucratic, pacifist, dependent on the state and form racist national fronts with their bosses to protect their jobs from migrants or foreigners.

The most these workers will do against war is to argue that imperialism does not need to fight wars to defend their jobs and high wages, and that the UN should manage invasions like in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. This is why the official labour movement in the imperialist countries will never go beyond pacifist posturing and never take organised strike action to stop war. For example, even when train drivers went on strike against Britain’s role in the Iraq war, they acted as individuals and not as members of their union.

Build unions of the most oppressed!

But all is not lost. While the union bureaucrats in the imperialist countries serve the interests of the bosses and the labour aristocracies, they do not represent the vast layers of other workers who are highly exploited and oppressed.

These are the migrant workers and/or low paid service workers who are mainly women, ethnic minorities and youth. They are typically casualised workers, not unionised and on the worst pay and conditions. They do not benefit from imperialism and form an oppressed layer of cheap labour in the imperialist heartlands. They have the class interest to form strong links with other workers across borders in the oppressed world and take direct action against their own military machine.

It is to these workers that we must look to form new class struggle unions based on rank and file democracy. They can be organised independently of the state, reformist parties and the bosses. Like the Latino janitors unionised in Los Angeles, they can take militant strike action to fight for better wages and conditions in the heart of the imperialist machine. They can act in international solidarity with the anti-imperialist resistance around the world.
Organise the casualised worker!

In NZ, the large majority of workers in the casualised mainly private service sector are not unionised. They are predominantly young, female, migrant workers. They work for multinational hotels like Sheraton, fast food outlets like Burger King, petrol stations like Mobil, and supermarkets, multinational call centres and commercial cleaners.

They need to be unionised so they can join forces with the workers who are employed by these same global corporates in other countries to fight together to win rights and better pay and conditions.

They can also link up globally with unionised workers in oil companies like Shell, banks like Citigroup, and military contractors like Halliburton, and other war profiteers, to blockade these companies and demand that they get off ‘corporate welfare’ and free up billions for health, education and housing for the poor.

The can unite with unionised workers in the export industries such as fishing and forestry to oppose anti-worker practices and the destruction of fish and timber stocks. They can fight to keep the foreshore and seabed from being sold-off to the expanding multinational aquaculture corporations. They can demand the nationalisation of all these companies under workers’ control with no compensation to the bosses!

For Rank-and-file control of unions

To be effective these unions must be run by their rank and file members. They must struggle to be independent of any political bureaucracy, of the reformist parties who suck them into parliament and the bosses’ state, and able to unite with other unions in militant strike action.

With this organisational strength, these unions can be what Leon Trotsky called ‘schools for revolution’. They can take up the fight for the most immediate bread and butter demands, and when the bosses refuse to meet them, they can take the fight all the way to win workers’ control of industry and state power.

They can take action on wages which become stands on war. They can defend their jobs yet refuse to build or repair frigates. They can demand that the CTU takes strike action against NZ’s military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. When the CTU refuses they can replace it with their own rank and file leadership.

They can impose boycotts and bans on Israel. They can mount solidarity campaigns in defence of migrant workers, so-called illegal workers, refugees like the jailed Algerian Ahmed Zaoui. They can fight for the rights of foreign workers in NZ ships, and build support for the independent trades unions and women’s’ organisations of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.

These unions must be democratic, independent, militant and internationalist! They can train and empower the working class fighters who will unite with workers globally and create a new political leadership that can bring an end to capitalism and build a world socialist society!

Workers have no country!
No to cabotage, frigates and theft of the foreshore!
Strike to stop imperialist war at home!
Support the resistance in Iraq and Palestine!
Support the workers and peasants revolution in Bolivia!
No to the treacherous leaders of the WSF – Lula, Chavez and Castro!
For a new World Party of Revolution!

From Class Struggle 55 April-May 2004

Written by raved

January 6, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Victory to Iraq!

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On Sunday April 18 about 140 members of Auckland’s Arab community and a handful of their supporters marched to the US consulate. Organised at short notice and almost totally ignored by the media, the march was a powerful show of support for the armed insurrection shaking Iraq.

The demonstrators chanted slogans like ‘1,2,3,4 We don’t want your racist war!’, ‘ANZAC troops, out of Iraq!’, and ‘With our lives, with our blood we defend you, Iraq!’. CWG members on the march shouted slogans condemning the US repression of Iraq’s trade union movement, and called for the rebuilding of the Iraqi union movement and international working class solidarity with the resistance.

A group of young Palestinians delighted the march by improvising a song which paid tribute to the heroism of the defenders of Fallujah. A number of Islamist chants were aired, but when a CWG member raised an old Iraqi revolutionary chant at least a third of the crowd joined in, and others applauded.

Outside the US consulate a series of speakers emphasised the criminal nature of the US/UN occupation of Iraq, and the need to support the the Iraqi resistance to occupation. One Iraqi addressed the US government, saying ‘We are not responsible for the killing – get out of our country and we will stop killing you’.

Another Iraqi blasted Bush’s talk of democracy, saying ‘Freedom exists in Iraq only for Americans. Our country is being made safe only for Americans and Zionists’. A Palestinian speaker announced the news of the murder of Hamas leader Rantissi, and vowed that the intifada would continue until Israel was destroyed.

Bystanders were divided in their response to the demonstration. A handful were enraged, and shouted racist abuse and threats. Many, though, were very supportive. When the march passed a music store near the bottom of Queen Street a crowd of young people poured out of the store and applauded wildly. Dozens of motorists honked their support. A CWG member talked to a young American tourist who had spontaneously joined the march to show her opposition to Bush and solidarity with Iraq.

A disappointing feature of the demonstration was the absence of almost all of Auckland’s left-wing community. Apart from Students for Justice in Palestine, the CWG seemed to be the only left group represented. Several speakers emphasised the need for the Arab community to liaise better with the rest of Auckland’s anti-war movement, and to explain its cause better to the general public, and one speaker urged demonstrators to come on Auckland’s Mayday march.

It is certainly true that Sunday’s march could have been better advertised, and that the Arab community could make stronger links with the many Aucklanders who hate Bush and his imperialist war.

But the left and the labour movement also have some work to do, if they are to reach out to the community most affected by the War of Terror. In particular, the left and the union movement must learn from the militant anti-imperialism of last Sunday’s demonstration, and of the Iraqi resistance as a whole.

Auckland’s Arab community is connected by family and history to an occupation which is for most of the rest of us a matter of TV images and newspaper stories. For Auckland’s Arabs, the brutality of US imperialism is especially keenly felt, and the necessity of armed resistance to this imperialism is easily understood.

Last Sunday’s message of solidarity with armed resistance to US and NZ troops contrasts very sharply with the official line of this country’s mainstream peace movement and larger left-wing parties. In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq last year, both the Alliance and the Green Party refused to support Iraqis’ right to defend their homeland against Bush’s armies.
Instead of backing the Iraqis, Green MPs like Keith Locke and peace movement ‘celebrities’ like Bishop Randerson used prime speaking slots at massive anti-war demonstrations to promote illusions that the UN and ‘international law’ could stop the war. When the war wasn’t stopped, disappointed demonstrators disappeared faster than Saddam’s WMDs. The active anti-war movement faded at the very moment the Iraqi resistance needed it most.

Twelve years of sanctions costing a million lives and a year of brutal UN-sanctioned occupation have made Iraqis somewhat sceptical about the charms of the UN. The Green Party, though, is still blindly calling for a UN ‘solution’ for Iraq. ‘Resistance’ is a word that is still absent from Comrade Locke’s vocabulary.

Our union movement has an even worse record than the Greens. Echoing Helen Clark, the national leadership of the Council of Trade Unions voted to oppose unilateral US war, but said nothing against a UN-sanctioned bloodbath. When the UN rubber stamped Bush’s conquest, Helen was happy to send troops, and the CTU was happy to keep quiet.

Some unions are going further, and seeking a slice of the War of Terror pie. The Engineers’ Union, for instance, has been lobbying John Howard’s government to build several frigates in Whangarei. (What’s next fellas – a tender for a New Zealand leg of the Star Wars system Howard is co-sponsoring with Bush?)

As rank and file trade unionists, we are disgusted and embarrassed by the failure of our movement to distance itself from the imperialist war machine and to show solidarity with the people fighting to stop that machine in its tracks.

Instead of acting as cogs in the War of Terror, our unions should begin a campaign of aid to the Iraqi workers’ organisations opposing the occupation of their country. In the 1930s, New Zealand unions sent money to the Spanish republicans fighting Franco and the Nazis, and some left-wing Kiwis travelled to Spain to join the International Brigade that took on the fascists on the battlefield.

Today, the Iraqi people are defying a colonial occupation every bit as dangerous as fascism. We need to support them by getting Kiwi troops out of their country, and by aiding their struggle for real liberation. Anything less would be a betrayal of the spirit of last Sunday’s demonstration. When we march with our Arab sisters and brothers this Mayday our slogans should be:

Victory to Iraq!
Defeat US/NZ Troops!
Build the Iraqi workers’ movement!

From Class Struggle 55 April-May 2004

Written by raved

January 6, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Asylum for Ahmed Zaoui, ‘Terrorist’ or not!

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Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke went on Auckland 1ZB radio station recently to talk about the Ahmed Zaoui case. Locke correctly called for Zaoui to be granted asylum in New Zealand, but the arguments he used on behalf of Zaoui can only be criticised.

Locke defended Zaoui by comparing him to Helen Clark, saying “Helen Clark is known around the world as a peacemaker, and so is Ahmed Zaoui – throwing Ahmed in jail is just as absurd as throwing Helen in jail would be.” Locke went on to differentiate Zaoui from members of groups which use armed struggle against oppression – he contrasted Zaoui the man of peace with the Algerian armed resistance and with the IRA, saying “there’s no excuse for violence, whatever the circumstances.”

Yet the modern IRA was built originally as a self-defence force, and fought against Military occupation by an imperialist power, and the armed groups in Algeria are resisting a military dictatorship backed by French and British imperialism. Obviously there are many political criticisms that can be made of both the IRA and the Algerian Islamists, but equally obviously both are national liberation movements with wide support and many just demands. To support their suppression, as Locke implicitly does, is reactionary in the extreme.

What Locke’s ‘defence’ of Zaoui actually does is (a) whitewash Helen Clark’s and Labour’s role in the ongoing War of Terror, and (b) reinforce the efforts of the White House to run together terrorism and national liberation struggles (think of Colombia, where Bush is calling the leftist guerrillas ‘narcoterrorists’, or the Philippines, where the Communist Party’s New People’s Army and the large Muslim insurgent groups are tarred with the brush of Abu Sayaff and Al Qaeda). We should support Locke when he calls for asylum to be given to Zaoui, but we need to accompany our support with criticism of the continuing rightward drift of the Greens and some other parts of the peace movement.

We have to take aim not only at the surface absurdities of Green and liberal arguments, but also at that their underlying view that the state and armed forces of Western countries can be ‘turned’ by the left and made to act for progressive ends in the Third World.

It is this underlying belief which has many Green supporters happily going along with their party’s support for the invasion of the Solomons, and unconcerned about the way their party jumped into bed with the emerging Euro-imperialist bloc by backing a Franco-German occupation of Iraq under the banner of the UN back in March.

Trapped in their reformist illusions, the Greens and organisations like Peace Movement Aotearoa tend to hold back the anti-war movement by advocating forms of protest designed to ‘pressure’ Labour to act progressively on international issues. PMA, for instance, is now calling for letters to be sent to Helen Clark demanding the release of Zaoui.

The truth is that Labour will never be pressured into changing direction and dropping its support for US and European imperialism. Labour is dedicated to administering capitalism, and at the dawn of the twenty first century wars of recolonisation and rollbacks of civil liberties are the survival mechanism of capitalism. The War of Terror is a necessity, not some mistake a few well-worded letters can persuade honourable politicians to put right. We need organized workers’ action, not symbolic pressure protests, to counter the War of Terror and help its victims like Ahmed Zaoui.

The absurdity of the Green-liberal position on the capitalist state and army was shown up by another part of Locke’s performance on 1ZB. Locke condemned the SIS as an untrustworthy player in the Zaoui case, pointing out the closeness of the organisation’s ties to the CIA and MI5. Where, though, does Locke think the information being used to justify the invasion of the Solomons comes from? If the SIS is not to be trusted over the facts concerning one man, how can it be trusted over the fate of a nation?

Locke also pointed to the role of French security services in helping the Algerian regime demonise opponents like Zaoui. Of course, France has a long history of acting against the interests of Algerians – in the 1950s and early 60s it killed tens of thousands of Algerians in a futile effort to defeat an independence movement in its biggest colony.

Closer to home, the French state has an appalling record in Pacific colonies like New Caledonia, where it killed a quarter of the Kanak population in the nineteenth century, and French Polynesia, where it tested nuclear bombs as recently as 1994. And then, of course, there’s the role of French security services in the Rainbow Warrior bombing in 1985. Why, given this record, does Locke think that France offered a progressive alternative solution to the crisis in Iraq last March? Why did he trust the French army and security services over the Pentagon and the CIA? Why does he continue to advocate Franco-German occupation as preferable to US occupation? It is questions like these that rank and file Greens should be asking. 

From Class Struggle, 52 September-October 2003

Written by raved

December 11, 2009 at 11:47 am


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Leaflet from Class Struggle 49 March/April 2003

To Whenuapai workers – in and out of uniform!

We are picketing this airbase to protest the Clark government’s plans to send an RNZ Air force Orion to the Persian Gulf to support Bush’s war for oil in Iraq. Working with the frigate Te Kaha, the Orion will be asked to identify and plot the movements of every ship passing through the only sea access to Iraq. Information collected by the Orion and Te Kaha will be fed to the US aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln. In recent months, the Abraham Lincoln has been involved in the bombing of Iraq and in planning for an invasion. By doing some of Bush’s grubby spying, the Orion and Te Kaha would help US ships and planes to focus on direct aggression against Iraq.

But the Orion can’t take off if there is no one to service, supply, or even fly it. Whether you are a worker wearing a uniform or a worker on civvy street, there are three bloody good reasons why you should join the global anti-war movement and blackballing this plane.

Reason #1:the Iraqi people will suffer terribly from the war the Orion would be supporting. According to a study by Australian doctors, 500,000 lives are at risk from an invasion of Iraq. ‘Collateral damage’ from bombs and missiles, contamination from depleted uranium shells, and disease are all expected to take a toll.

Reason #2:your fellow workers around the world are already suffering the effects of Bush’s War of Terror. Many workers recognise that Bush’s ‘War on Terror’ is a war on workers in the West, as well as a war on the peoples of the Middle East. The warmongers want to take long-term control of the region and boost their flagging profits by making Western labour as well as Middle Eastern oil cheaper. Bush used his war plans as an excuse to attack the West Coast waterside workers when they tried to strike last year, and is trying to use his post-World Trade Centre ‘Patriot Act’ to strip hundreds of thousands of state employees of their right to union membership. In Britain, Bush’s best friend Tony Blair has used the war as an excuse to threaten to ban the right of firefighters to go on strike for higher wages. (Refusing to back down, the firefighters have scheduled more strike actions.)We can trust Helen to pull the same ‘national security’ card out of the pack the moment she fears the prospect of working class militancy.

Reason #3:you will suffer from continued New Zealand support for Bush’s wars.
The Clark government is trying to trade military and political support for the War of Terror for a free trade deal with Bush. According to economic analysts, such a deal would mean the privatisation of the New Zealand health system and water services by U.S. multinationals, the removal of restrictions on Genetic Engineering, and the buying up of the New Zealand countryside by US bosses. This is what New Zealand workers in uniform are being asked to risk their lives for in the Middle East!

Unions representing 130 million workers from Australia to Togo have come out against the latest stage in the endless War of Terror.In Western Australia, 75,000 workers from nine unions have pledged to go on strike the minute any attack on Iraq begins, whether or not it is sanctioned by the UN. In Ireland, mass pickets have forced the US government to stop using the Shannon Air Base to move troops and supplies to the Middle East.In New Zealand, the Council of Trade Unions opposes a war on Iraq and calls on its members to protest. You should protest by blackballing the Orion!

Working class militancy can defeat this military madness!

Oppose Bush’s war – ground the Orion!

DAWA is at

Anti-imperialist Coalition is at

Written by raved

January 3, 2009 at 10:38 pm