Educators, trade unionists support suspended teacher

Workers Party media release

Over 30 prominent academics, teachers and trade unionists have signed an open letter in support of suspended school teacher Paul Hopkinson, standing as the Workers Party candidate for Christchurch East in the upcoming election.

Despite campaigning only in his own time (weekends and school holidays), Mr Hopkinson was told that due to a provision of the 1993 Electoral Act concerning
the political activities of public servants he would have
to take unpaid leave for the three weeks leading up to
the 2008 general election.

Mr Hopkinson considered this an undemocratic restriction
on his participation in the political process, as having a
partner and two children to support and not having any
other financial resources to fall back on he simply cannot
afford to take unpaid leave. He also felt that it places
small minor parties like the Workers Party at a
disadvantage, as unlike the major parties Labour and
National they cannot afford to pay their candidates’
wages for the duration of the election campaign.

After refusing to take unpaid leave, Mr Hopkinson has
become the first teacher in New Zealand to be
suspended without pay by his employer.

Below is the open letter in support of Hopkinson and list
of signatories. This document is also available online

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3 Workers Party members elected to 2009 VUWSA executive

– Workers Party Media Release

Workers’ Party member Jasmine Freemantle was elected President of the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) for 2009 last Wednesday night.

Freemantle was elected by a comfortable majority over her Labour Party rival Sonny Thomas, after a heated campaign that fuelled the highest voter turn out in a VUWSA election since the early 1990s.

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WP Forum: Should the left support sanctions against Iran?

Much has been made by the corporate media and Western governments over the threat supposedly represented by Iran’s civilian nuclear program (despite the CIA themselves admitting that there is no evidence at all the Iranian government is developing nuclear weapons). Many ostensibly “progressive” people (including our own Labour government) have backed UN sanctions against the Iranian regime, yet remain conspicuously silent on the issue of Israel’s already developed arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Is it simply a case of the left needing to be more consistent in its policy of intervention, or should we instead uphold the right of the Iranian people themselves to overthrow their regime without interference from Western interests?

Come along to this month’s Christchurch Workers Party forum, where we discuss these questions as well as what Iranian leftists themselves are doing to oppose both the threat of US military intervention and their own government as well.

Wednesday September 24, 7pm

Workers Educational Association, 59 Gloucester St

All Welcome!

UC Workers Party on Campus Events

Student rebellion and state repression: the events of 1968 in México

Continuing our series of retrospective talks on the events of 1968, this week’s WP on Campus meeting looks at the explosion of student militancy onto the streets of México City in the months leading up to the Summer Olympics of that year.

Wednesday 6 August, 5pm
International Room, 1st floor UCSA Building

Workers Party on Campus “Introduction to Socialism” study group

The first session of our planned regular series of introductory study groups meets this Wednesday after the conclusion of the México 1968 talk, at 6.30pm in room 1106 (11th floor Central Library). The reading for this week’s session is “How Revolutionaries Choose Their Political Priorities” and can be found here.

Copies of the readings for subsequent sessions will be available for pickup on Wednesday.

NOTE: WP also currently run an advanced study group on Marx’s “Capital” – send us an email if they would like to find out more about participating in this.

Workers Party Election Campaign

Last week saw the official launch of our local election campaign with several public forums as well as the beginning of leafleting and doorknocking in working class areas of Christchurch. Our policies such as abolishing GST, ending the corporatisation of public services and putting all elected MPs on the average workers’ wage have been getting a good reception from workers, students and pensioners and we will be taking our anti-capitalist message out to more local neighborhoods over the coming weeks. If you can help us with any of this work please get in touch!

Immigration and citizenship: Labour versus workers

The article below originally appeared in revolution magazine, #21, August-October 2003:

Samoan protests for the return of their NZ citizenship point up the need for a campaign for open borders and workers’ solidarity as against Labour’s denial of Samoan (and other migrants’) rights, argues Philip Ferguson.

In late March, thousands of Samoans protested in Wellington, Christchurch and in Samoa itself, calling for the repeal of the NZ Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act of 1982.  This legislation, introduced by Muldoon’s National Party government, had stripped 100,000 Samoans of NZ citizenship rights.  The abolition of these citizenship rights was part of a miserable 70-year record of NZ dealings with the Samoan people.

NZ had invaded Samoa in 1914 and was the colonial power there for the next five decades.  Just after WW1, the NZ administration bore responsibility for an influenza epidemic that wiped out a quarter of the population.  The NZ government then viciously suppressed the mass movement for Samoan independence, including gunning down unarmed independence protesters in 1929.

After independence, NZ continued to act as lord and master of Samoa and other former NZ-ruled countries in the Pacific.  For instance, in the 1970s NZ governments masqueraded as generous aid donors to the Pacific.  Yet, at that very same time, for every dollar of aid the Pacific countries of the Commonwealth received from New Zealand, they lost $3.74 in trade with this country.  Most of the NZ aid was actually spent on NZ commodities, services and personnel.  Moreover, it had little impact on expanding Pacific island exports to NZ.  The 1970s also saw mass raids on Pacific Island ‘overstayers’ in NZ and large-scale deportations.

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WP leaflet on increased road user charges

Below is the text of a leaflet distributed by members of the Workers Party Auckland branch at the protest earlier today by truck drivers against the recently announced increase in road user charges.

Independence from the bosses – A workers’ response required in the campaign against rising cost of living

The boss class is to blame for the recent barrage of rising costs that is hitting working people in New Zealand and internationally. The following leaflet puts forward the Workers Party’s basic position on the increase to road user chargers.

Major companies are required to pay within the market system Should the major companies pay for the costs of maintaining the roads? We think that under a market system the major companies should be forced to pay but this should not be at the expense of their employees’ wages and conditions which such companies have been driving down for decades. If they were not called to pay, then the public would be bearing costs incurred while the companies make profits. However, it should also be understood that, within a market system, the employers’ profits come from the work that their employees do for them. Therefore, even if the companies lose profits, the main issue is that workers are able to increase real incomes.

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Oil workers’ union leader calls for an end to the US plunder of Iraq

On May 28, 2008, Chevron and ExxonMobil Corporations each conducted their annual shareholder meetings.

Chevron held its meeting at its world headquarters in San Ramon, Ca. ExxonMobil convened in Dallas, Texas. Antiwar, environmental and other social justice organisations conducted protests at each event.

The statement below from the Federation of Oil Unions in Iraq to the shareholders of each corporation was presented at press conferences conducted in conjunction with these protests. The statement was transmitted by Hassan Juma’a Awad, President of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, to US Labor Against the War for presentation at these events.

Original statement posted here

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Report on Marxism 2008 Educational Weekend

– Workers Party(NZ) reporters

Seventy-three people attended the Marxism 2008 conference in Grey Lynn, Auckland over Queen’s Birthday weekend.

Guest speakers and members of the Workers Party (NZ) – which organised the conference – came together to deliver presentations on a range of important issues and to generate discussions and ideas.

The political depth of the educational weekend was strong and presentations were well-received. Internationalist presentations and discussions were held at the beginning of the weekend and this helped give context for the weekend.

Babu Maharjan, a Nepali living in New Zealand, presented a brief history of the people’s war in Nepal that has led to expulsion of the monarchy and overwhelming success for the revolutionary party in the first fully-democratic election in that country, in which it gained a majority.

This was followed by debate about the nature of the economy in the new period in Nepal.

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No GST on beer!

Nearly 30 people joined the Workers Party today, taking our membership tally to 560. We aim to get 600 members before applying to register as a party.

Workers Party activists approached people going to the Warriors game in Auckland to join the party and to get in behind our campaign to get rid of GST. With posters saying “No GST on beer” we had lots of support and good conversations about how regressive taxes hurt working class people.