Christchurch Workers’ Forum

This month’s Christchurch Workers Forum is on the Electoral Finance Act and the 2008 elections. Come along and hear and discuss:
● why the EFA is not in the interests of workers and open political debate
● the similarities between the policies of National and Labour
● what we can do to build an alternative for workers

Speakers: Tim Bowron and John Edmundson

7pm, Monday, February 25,
WEA (Workers Educational Association)
59 Gloucester St

Marxism 2008: Call for Papers

Marxism 2008: May 30-June 1, Auckland City, New Zealand
(Schedule and venue to be announced)

From May 30 to June 1, the Workers Party of New Zealand will be holding its 6th annual educational conference, Marxism 2008, in Auckland.

The conference will be particularly important this year because, for the first time, the Workers Party will be registering as a political party to stand in the national general election on the party list. This is the first time in New Zealand history that a revolutionary socialist option will be on the ballot paper in every part of the country.

The Workers Party invites militant activists and intellectuals, particularly international guests, to participate in the conference and we hope that there will be talks by international guests. We encourage those who wish to deliver presentations to contact us before April 1 2008 for consideration.

Please contact Phil Ferguson by emailing

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Auckland Workers Party film screening and discussion forum

A Symphony of Errors

A film about the recent land struggle of Ngati Rohoto Hapu

Tuesday 19th February 6pm
upstairs @ Auckland Trades Hall, 147 Great Nth Road

This film documents the militant land occupation and struggle of the Ngati Rohoto Hapu against the development of a gated community on top of a historic urupa (burial site) on the shores of Lake Taupo. The land occupation became a class struggle within Tuwharetoa for democratic control of the land. Through this struggle, legislation that removed collective land ownership from the Hapu and passed it to select individual trustees was challenged, and the first demonstration through Taupo town was organised. Leaders of the occupation faced violent attacks by racists and large group arrests by police.

All welcome!

Australian elections: ­ Howard’s out, but it’s still the same old bullshit

Alastair Reith

In the recent Australian General Elections, the eleven year reign of John Howard and his Liberal-National Coalition government was ended with a victory for the Labor Party and its leader Kevin Rudd.

The elections saw a significant voter shift towards Labor, with Howard even losing his own seat in the election to Labor challenger Maxine McKew.

While no one is sorry to see Howard and his Coalition thrown out, the facts are that “Kevin07” and Labor will be no better than Howard was.

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The legacy of Benazir Bhutto

Joel Cosgrove

No one should be crowing about the way in which Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister and leader of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party, died – killed by an assassin’s bullet at the end of a political meeting in Rawalpindi on December 27.

Yet the obituaries that quickly flowed across the Western world following her death illustrated the way in which history is being constantly rewritten to suit the times. Bhutto is not being remembered for the trail of corruption that littered her two previous terms as prime minister. Nor for her husband Asif Ali “10%” Zardari and the serious charges of money laundering laid against the both of them.

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Wellington bus drivers’ battles continue

Don Franks

In December 2007 the Workers Party produced a Spark insert, Bus drivers stand up to the boss. It described how Management of Go Wellington imposed shift changes in 2007 that resulted in driver salary reductions of up to $20,000 a year. At the same time, the company introduced an alternative collective to the Tramways Union one, with inferior conditions and, unlike the Tramways collective, no penal rates. In December this contract was being challenged in the courts. This case is still before the employment court at the time of going to press, with a decision due in early February. Watch this space.

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Christchurch support workers strike against 75-hour weeks

Tim Bowron

Between January 11 and 13, around 140 support workers and nurses at Brackenridge Estate near Christchurch took part in a 48-hour strike over issues of severe understaffing and low pay.

The workers there, who look after people with serious intellectual disabilities, are members of the National Union of Public Employees and the NZ Nurses’ Organisation.

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The Electoral Finance Act: a draconian and over-the-top law that will be used against unionists and radical leftists

The Electoral Finance Act sounds like a pretty boring piece of legislation, yet it sparked one of the biggest disagreements in New Zealand politics last year. Does it really have much to do with workers’ concerns? And will it advance the interests of workers? The Spark talked to Bryce Edwards, a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

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February issue of The Spark Out Now!

The far-off land of Nepal has been much in the news lately, through its connections to the late Sir Edmund Hillary. Overwhelmingly, New Zealand mainstream media depicted Nepalese people as passive recipients of Hillary’s humanitarian aid. It came as rather a surprise when it was reported that the Nepalese government had not flown the flag at half-mast. Departing from the script our news compilers had written for them.In fact, far from being a land of passive victims, modern day Nepal seethes with intense political struggle. Previous issues of The Spark have run several eye-witness accounts of Nepal’s Maoist-led mass uprisings. In this issue we examine the latest contradictions of this revolutionary movement. As you’ll see when you read the article, there are many difficult questions and no easy answers.

The Spark doesn’t shy away from grappling with difficult questions, because they’re an inescapable part of the international struggle for working people’s liberation. This issue of The Spark also takes up the local issue of the Electoral Finance Act, a piece of political chicanery neglected by most of the New Zealand left and fudged by our top trade union leaders.

If you want to get beyond soft soundbites to the real nitty-gritty, then The Spark is your paper.