Monday, March 30, 2009

Further Update: Alexandra occupation

Friday April 3

Police poised to shoot on 3,ooo residents occupying houses
The Alexandra Renewal project has issued a fresh eviction order (after using an outdated order to intimidate the people) authorising police to shoot on the current occupants of the RDP houses in River Park, Alexandra. This is how the ANC government is dealing with the enforced mass homelessness of the millions of impoverished working class. The roll out the red carpet to the Fifa capitalists, spend billions in a short space of time on stadiums, while not a care is given for the millions in shacks and backyards.
There is currently a tense standoff between police, with arms at the ready, and 3000 unarmed residents of the RDP houses in River Park. The media are invited to come and bear witness to this.
for comment on the scene call Thabo Modisane ph 0781297797


Contrary to earlier newsreports that the people who had occupied the River Park RDP houses had been evicted by the police, the community numbering thousands are still there. At 6pm today they are having a mass meeting to prepare for resistance against pending police assault. It has been reported that a number of government trucks are on the way, under the protection of a heavy police presence, to attempt to evict the community. The community are determined to resist. Many have lost their young children through preventable disease, through cholera, through electrocution through city council negligence, many have been repeatedly evicted from vacant factories. The community is saying enough is enough.

Their central demand remains DECENT HOUSING FOR ALL! The community has also applied for a march on the High court on the 7th April to protest against this undemocratic, pro-capitalist institution.

Meanwhile the housng department still clings to the notion that people can only be allocated houses if they are on a list provided by the local ANC councillor. The ANC are the managers for the capitalists to keep the working class in desperation and homeless- the only beneficiaries are the imperialist banks, who thrive on profiteering from the pain of the majority.
Down with the bailout of the banks! Bail out the working class by expropriating the banks and the construction companies- place them under workers' control!
the battle for River Park looms..........
for comment on the scene ph Thabo Modisane ph 0781297797

Anti-Semitism in Aotearoa

A controversy has blown up in Auckland, Aotearoa, following an attempt to prevent a Symposium run by Uncensored magazine from using the Mt Albert War Memorial Hall. It was claimed on the Reading the Maps blog that the magazine was a forum for anti-Semites and holocaust deniers.

We would say that from the debate that has raged since this claim is true. But our attitude towards anti-Semites is to mobilize workers to shut them up, and if they organize as neo-Nazis like the National Front, support direct working class physical confrontations. Calling on local bodies to ban Uncensored magazine from using a public hall is not the answer.

Only workers can stop fascism

Two problems that have clouded this issue and given ammunition to the anti-Semites are first, using the 'war on fascism' as some justification for denying Uncensored the use of the public hall, and second, appealing to local government to ban the use of the hall.

First, Reading the Maps is challenging those that claim that the holocaust is a myth by using a more dangerous myth, that the Second World War as a 'war on fascism' was just and defensible. It’s more dangerous, because if workers had rejected that war as imperialist, German fascism could not have made the holocaust.

This provides the anti-Semites with an argument in defence of their bourgeois democratic right of free speech as defended by the 'war on fascism'.

But the war on fascism was an inter-imperialist war between capitalist ruling classes that tragically sucked millions of workers into giving their lives for their ruling classes instead of turning their guns on their bosses.

Second, combating fascism and anti-Semitism is the task of the only class that has an interest in defeating it, the working class, and not of the state, even in the form of local government, whose interests are to defend private property, and hence the rule of capitalists, Nazi or Zionist.

This is the basis of Trotsky's refusal to call on the capitalist state to ban fascists. The fascists were openly calling on the smashing of the workers movement, and the state was in league with the fascist paramilitaries. Hence it was necessary for workers to organize their own ban, i.e. the 'no platforming' of fascists i.e. denial of right to free speech. So in Aotearoa, the national front is met on the streets with counter-demonstrations. And the neo-Nazis conferences should be disrupted by working class protests and their own counter-rallies and demonstrations.

Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism

But a more immediate danger exists. By calling on the state to ban the ‘neo-Nazis’ for being anti-Semitic, the liberal left lets the Zionists off the hook. The neo-Nazis attempt to portray their anti-Semitism as anti-Zionism. So when they attack Zionism by questioning the holocaust more than 60 years ago, the liberal left ends up coming to the defence of Zionism. We explain here why this lets the Zionists off the hook and betrays the Palestinian struggle for inde-pendence.

Why do neo-Nazis who claim to oppose the existence of Israel and its genocidal attacks on Palestinians feel the need to deny the holocaust? It must be that they think that if the holocaust happened then that would justify the existence of Israel in Palestine.

It is true that this is popularly held to be the main justification for the existence of Israel. But this is a misreading of Zionism which argues for the right of Israel to exist on the basis of the Bible, not the holocaust. The holocaust (and the history of pogroms) was a reason used by Zionists to claim that Jews could not be assimilated in Europe and needed their own state.

Trotsky agreed that this was a legitimate national right for the oppressed Jewish people. But he did not agree that that state could be in Palestine unless it was with the consent of the Palestinians. To impose the state of Israel by force onto the Palestinians would be a travesty of the Jews right to self-determination because it denied the same right to the Palestinians.
Denying the holocaust happened, then, is a defence of Nazism against the charge of genocide against Jews. This is at the same time a denial of not only the right of Israel to exist, but an open attack on the national rights of Jews as ‘specially’ oppressed.

Reversing the Signs

For those who oppose the neo-Nazis, the holocaust can become an article of faith in the right of Israel to exist in Palestine. Zionism then becomes a legitimate national movement. One can oppose Israel’s occupation of Palestine but at the same time hold it has a right to exist by 'agreement' with the Palestinians. This is the basis of the "two-state" solution. Those who oppose Israel’s right to exist become by this logic anti-Semitic.

The CWG agrees that the holocaust did happen. But that it does not justify the existence of Israel in Palestine; nor does the Bible. In believing that we are not anti-Semites but revolutionary socialists.

Nothing justifies the establishment of a settler state on the land of another nation (even in formation as Palestine was fighting Britain which held it as a mandate of the League of Nations) and its occupation and ethnic cleansing by terrorist militias.

The Jews in Europe were victimized by the Nazis and we do not dispute that about 6 million died. But the Zionists who occupied Palestine in turn victimized the Palestinians using similar methods to the Nazis. The Palestinian dead since the 1930s would be well in excess of one million.

Fascism is an extreme reactionary rule on the part of the national bourgeoisie that responds to the threat of socialist revolution by uniting the nation on the basis of myths of racial superiority in order to smash the revolution. The myth of the pure race fuels the repression and physical extermination of not only Jews but other races or oppressed groups and minorities: criminals, Roma, homosexuals, communists etc.

The Nazis were fearful that the German workers would rise up and make a socialist revolution. Jewish workers were overrepresented in the leadership of the communist and socialist organisations. By agreeing with the Nazis that Jews could not be assimilated in Europe the Zionists collaborated with the Nazis to smash the labor movement and made agreements to release a number of Jewish workers to be shipped to Palestine.

Against the Zionist state

In Israel, the Zionists used semi-fascist methods to impose their reactionary rule on the Palestinian workers who rose up in 1936 in a six month general strike, and in the years up to 1939, when there was a continuous uprising of the Palestinian people against the Zionist settler state in formation.

Zionism then, created a semi-fascist settler state regime to establish and defend its existence on stolen Palestinian land, facing the continuous resistance of the Palestinian people and therefore the ongoing threat of a Palestinian national or socialist revolution.

Thus Zionism far from being a victim of the Nazi holocaust visited on Jews in Europe, collaborated with the Nazi movement to divide workers along racist lines, weakening their resistance to fascism, and then using the same methods in Israel against the Palestinians.

The Zionists claim that those who oppose Israel's right to exist in Palestine are anti-Semitic. For fear of being called anti-Semites or even neo-Nazis the liberal left does not challenge the Israeli state's right to exist.

Neo-fascism in Aotearoa is fueled by the free pass the liberal left gives to the Zionists in Israel today. The only way out of this trap is to fight for the destruction of Israel as a Zionist state, and at the same time fight for the rights of Jews to self-determination within a free, democratic, secular, socialist Palestine.

Will appear in Class Struggle 83, April-May 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Update: All RDP Houses in River Park, Alexandra, occupied.

The people of Alexandra have taken their future into their own hands. Tired of empty promises by government, tired of being evicted from empty factories where they sought temporary relief from the elements, all the RDP [Reconstruction and Development Project] houses in River Park, Alexandra have been occupied. What is of particular concern has been the slow pace of delivery which means that millions will be forever homeless. The government prioritised billions of Rands for a 2 week spectacle, the 2010 world cup. Many of the homeless do not know if they will even live to see this capitalist venture. Rather than a life plagued with cholera, the people have taken the bold step of occupying all the vacant houses that were due for handing over to friends of ANC councillors and made available for sale to their friends.
The community will have a mass meeting today (Sat 28.03.09) at 10am at River Park, to plan their way forward and to protest for decent houses for all! Thousands of Alexandra residents are expected to attend.
for comment at the scene: ph Thabo Modisane 0781297797.

Shaheed Mahomed, Secretary, Workers International Vanguard League
1st Floor, Community House, 41 Salt River rd, Salt River
South Africa
, 7925, ph 0822020617, fax 0880214476777

Friday, March 27, 2009

G 20: Socialist Fight Leaflet

• Internationalism Now!

• Down with Economic Nationalism, Bj4Bw and “No2 EU” Europhobia!

• Build a Rank-and-File organisation that fights the bosses and the class treachery of the TU bureaucracy!

The G20 summit demonstrates the rapidity with which the crisis is unfolding. Whole economies like Iceland and Ireland are virtually bankrupt, financial meltdown has unleashed economic meltdown and no one can say where it will end. And the political ramifications for the left are equally rapid. The Lindsey Oil Refinery strikes were the August 4th for the British working class. Those like the SP and CPB who gave them enthusiastic support have now got their reward.

The Stalinists of the CPB, who have been the traditional bagmen for the class traitors of the TU bureaucracy, have welcomed the ‘Trotskyist’ SP into the fold of economic nationalism. Fronted by Bob Crow, with no consultation with his members, the new No2 EU platform is a straight British nationalist response which attempts to steal the votes of the UKIP. Like the infamous ‘foreigners out’ demonstration in Staythorp this appalling political treachery has struck fear into every immigrant worker and much of the black and Asian community. If even ’lefts’ like Simpson, Crow, Nellist and the CPB are prepared to tack so far right for opportunist gains how can we defeat the BNP?

But divisions are not really so bad if they reveal reality in time to fight back. The SWP has swung to the left after the split with Galloway and is now recruiting rapidly on leftist demands. Despite all the problems with their own capitulation to trade union bureaucracies and the popular frontism of the UAF, etc. their members are demanding a real fight now and revolutionists should give critical support as far as they go.

The future of the working class and poor, particularly immigrants, is indeed grim and they will be joined by a vast section of the middle class who will be rapidly driven down into their ranks. A year or so ago every right-wing think-thank in the planet trumpeted low taxation, deregulation and privatisation as the neo-liberal model that lead to robust economic growth.

The number of millionaires and billionaires burgeoned but this was necessary so the poor could benefit from some trickle-down, or ‘crumbs from the master’s table’ as one patronising bigot put it long ago. Today we are encouraged to hate these greedy bankers and fat cat finance capitalists but not the system itself, which the People’s Charter assures us is reformable.

The anarchist answer is to defend localism; local communities defending jobs and fighting the oppressive state is the only way. What is wrong with British jobs for British workers, Irish jobs for Irish workers and local jobs for local workers? Down with the EU, back to fortress Britain? But the door is then opened for the far right; economic nationalism is the field of operation of the fascists, it ties the workers to the bosses and must destroy the very basis of working class consciousness, its internationalism and its objective need to produce wealth on the basis of a world planned economy. Workers are the true global class whose interests can only be truly served by a planned world economy, capitalism is a global system run by a national bourgeoisie who are only interested in the own profit.

Revolutionary Trotskyism must provide the answer then with its aspiration for the world revolution. If the Waterford Crystal occupation becomes fashionable then the sacred right of private property, which underpins all global oppression, will be raised again as an international tactic. Only when private property is overthrown and collective, effective human rights are established and when we produce food and manufactures for human need, not profit can workers begin the struggle for international socialism. We must sweep away the ‘muck of ages’, sexism, homophobia and economic nationalism which leads to racism, wars and copper fastens all human oppression.

But we cannot do it effectively when we collaborate with a TU bureaucracy which seeks to jail militant Belfast Airport shop stewards. We cannot do it when we go on marches with Lindsey Oil Refinery strikers who shout ‘foreigners out’. Just as we must not capitulate to the trade union bureaucracy we cannot circumvent them either by ‘base unions’, we must fight and defeat them to reclaim the unions as class struggle organs.

Internationalists will then see their aspirations as real possibilities; no local answers, no trade union bureaucratic sell-out deals to save capitalism; occupy, organise and strike to unite the working class nationally and internationally, then the revolutionary struggles will begin in earnest.

Down with No2 EU, workers of the world unite!

Socialist Fight PO Box 59188,
London, NW2 9LJ.


The time of crisis…

Worldwide workers are being laid off en mass as the capitalist crisis deepens and intensifies. Workers are losing their homes and families are breaking up as they are being made to pay for a crisis created by the system that never enriched anyone but the bosses. The International Labour Organisation predicts 50 Million jobs lost globally this year while in the USA 600,000 jobs are being lost monthly.

In Aotearoa 7% unemployment is predicted, with 20% for Maori. In Auckland the unemployment rate has doubled in the last year. 100s of jobs have been lost from F&P, CHH, Sealords etc. Many more companies are going to shed workers. Meanwhile the government’s 9 day fortnight looks like it might save a few hundred only. Bosses’ don’t want to pay for it and workers don’t want to lose 10% of their wages.

On behalf of the bosses the Key government is taking advantage of the crisis by making it easier for smaller employers to fire workers within 90 days without having to give a reason. Unemployed job seekers who decline to ‘voluntarily’ sign the 90-day clause in employment contracts are likely to face the grim prospect of a stand down or punitive benefit cuts from WINZ.

…is a time to get organised:

What can you as an individual do? Nothing! It has been proved time and again that united and organised in unions the working class are a mighty force. Because of this bosses’ governments have always tried to weaken or smash the union movement. Under the last Labour Government law changes and eco-nomic growth allowed the unions to survive.

Unions like Unite were able to begin recruiting young casualised workers in fast food outlets like McDonalds for the first time in many years, bring an end to Youth Rates, and get a rise in the minimum wage. But today these small gains and the very existence of the unions is under attack once more with the 90 Day Act which will drive down wages and conditions.

Only by joining the unions and getting organised can we unite as a labour movement to defend our in-terests and fight for jobs for all and equal rights for employed and un-employed. For rank and file democ-ratic control of the unions!

The fightback is under way

In USA and elsewhere workers are occupying factories to prevent their closure. Workers at Republic Doors and Windows in Chicago oc-cupied their factory to get their redun-dancy pay and were offered the jobs back by a new owner. In Ireland a workers occupation of Waterford Crystals is holding out for the nationalisation of the plant. Com-munities are uniting to resist evictions. In Álexandra in South Africa the community has occupied 100s of vacant public houses. General strikes such as in Greece and in Guadeloupe, and mass demonstrations as in France, prove that workers can refuse to pay for their crisis!

In New Zealand we should be doing the same. When a workplace threatens sackings or closure because of the crisis, we should organise workers occupations to win support to keep the workers operating the plants. Workers should be demanding that the plants are nationalised under workers control and workers management.

In Auckland Unite! union has organised ‘Rat Patrols’ to picket employers who fire workers under the 90 day Act, and this initiative has been backed belatedly by the CTU. When the union leadership's response to these threats is totally inadequate (where are mass rallies called by the CTU?) the initiative must come from the rank-and-file. We need to organise a fightback of the ranks of the unions in the defence of every job and workplace.

Unemployed UNITE!

While our backs are against the wall! Unite! is the union for unem-ployed, and Waitemata Branch is planning collective actions to prevent the unemployed being victimised by the crisis. 100% effectiveness will require 100% participation of the unemployed. We are as yet far from achieving that, so join up and lend your weight to the struggle.

• Fight the anti-worker 90-Day Act.

• Fight stand-downs and punitive benefit slashing.

• Resist mortgagee sales

• Solidarity with all workers

• Full union rights for all unemployed

Waitemata Branch of Unite Union

Hon Secretary ph 836 9104

Sunday, March 22, 2009

South Africa: Community occupies RDP houses in Alexandra

It's finally happened; after years of a culture of callousness by the ANC government, towards the working class, the frustrations of the working class has burst its banks. Government policy means that the current 7.5 million people without housing, will always remain homeless. The latest budget delivered in February this year does not even plan to build enough houses to cater for population growth. In Alexandra the situation has been particularly acute- cholera outbreaks, children electrocuted by open power cables, houses for bribes, houses for some while the majority remain homeless, are on the order of the day. Now, the people of Alexandra, fed up with years of broken promises, have taken their fate into their own hands. At this very moment they have occupied hundreds of vacant RDP homes to express their simple demand: HOUSES FOR ALL! DOWN WITH CORRUPTION!
For years the city council has evicted families from the vacant factories they had occupied, without giving any alternative accomodation. For years, RDP homes were allocated to government officials; many government officials even own RDP houses.
The community is determined to stand firm in the occupied houses. Winter is aproaching and for many it is the choice of life, or death from pneumonia, TB or cholera. The community refuses to die in silence. The contrast with the luscious, super-rich Sandton, which borders Alexandra, could not have been more stark. The government supports capitalist development in Sandton and in billions of Rands for stadiums for a 2 week spectacle (2010 world cup) but neglects the very constituency that they are now begging to vote for them. The ANC sits on the boards of the major banks that are all evicting the poor from their homes, all in the name of the god of profit. The ANC is co-responsible for the slow pace of housing which keeps housing prices artificially high, so that the banks can profit.
for comment on the scene: Lewinsky Booi ph 0733967005 or call 0781297797

Shaheed Mahomed
Workers International Vanguard League
1st Floor, Community House
41 Salt River rd
Salt River
South Africa
ph 0822020617
fax 0880214476777

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Guadeloupe: Indefinite General Strike

We reprint an edited article by the French Tendency CLAIRE (Communism, Self-organisation, Internationalism and Revolution) which it wrote for discussion inside the new Anticapitalist Party (NPA). The does not means that we share all the political positions of the Tendency. [ See first comment below]. We take full responsibility for any errors in translation and editorial comments in [brackets].
After six weeks of general strike in Guadeloupe and four weeks in Martinique

The workers and people of the Antilles (West Indies) show us the way forward. This is the indefinite general strike, called and prepared by a united front of the trades unions, with a policy based on a program of demands, backed by mass mobilisations and pickets. MEDEF has refused to concede anything, but Sarkosy wants to end the general strike by making concessions because he fears that it will spread to the other colonies and even to France. But the general strike continues!

It's time to fight for the General Strike in France in solidarity with that in the Caribbean because our demands are the same and the main enemies are the same: the MEDEF [Employers Federation] and Sarkozy! The leaders of the workers in France must call and prepare a General Strike on a platform urgently as the only way of ensuring that the demands of the Colonies are won and that they are not isolated and repressed.

In Guadeloupe and Martinique, the strikers themselves will decide the objective of the strike. But the attitudes of the Sarkozy regime and the MEDEF make it obvious that any real satisfaction of their demands will be impossible without a radicalisation of the struggle. Already the LKP [Collective against Exploitation] in Guadeloupe and the Collective of February 5 (CF5) in Martinique has acted to occupy the companies to take control of production and form strike committees organised into a central strike committee.

The French state lacks legitimacy in the colonies, the LKP and the CF5 has the confidence of the masses and the authority to form a Government of the workers, based on the expropriation without compensation of the major companies, and able to take up the right to self-determination.

The government, the employers, the UMP and the PS use all means to end the general strike

After failing to repress the workers in Guadeloupe on the 16 and 17 February, the French colonial state had to retreat temporarily in the face of a strengthening general strike, with more roadblocks, youth arming themselves, and a union leader shot dead, for which the French government bears responsibility.

On February 18 Sarkozy announce the resumption of negotiations with the LKP. This temporarily defused the risk of a widespread explosion but was not a solution. Today the MEDEF still refuses to make any concession, while the government, based mainly on small and medium businesses, tries to end the general strike without damaging the interests of the capitalists. The proposed agreement is to increase the salaries by 200 euros for those between 1 and 1.4 times the minimum wage (the majority of employees), 6% for earnings between 1.4 and 1.6 times the SMIC, and 3% for wages above that). But for three years, employers will pay only 50 euros per employee. Local authorities will fund 50 euro and the State will cover the remaining 100 euros from the Social Security budget. The current agreement on offer in Martinique has a similar content.

[Ed note: The strike concluded on Wed 4th March with the acceptance of the 200 euro increase per month for low paid workers].

Moreover, in Guadeloupe, the draft agreement was signed only by a minority of employers, employing approximately 17 000 out of 85 000 as the MEDEF and the CGPME. The LKP has agreed in principle, but while negotiations with the prefect and the bosses continue it calls for the continuation of the general strike, and for workers to enter business premises to force all the other bosses to sign. In Martinique, the CF5 is divided between those who want to sign right away and those who want to continue the general strike or at least consult the strikers.

MEDEF is standing firm because it knows that a real victory for workers in the Antilles would lead to a radicalization and to mobilizations in the other colonies and in France itself. The government, meanwhile, tries to break the strike by dividing the strikers and trying to get the LKP to call for the resumption of work of those workers covered by the agreement. The government hopes to prepare "public opinion" to accept a crackdown against those militants who want to enter business premises to force the bosses to sign the agreement. The prefect deployed mobile policemen to prevent them from entering companies producing violent clashes.

The strength of the employers and the government is based on their clear analysis of the situation in France. Indeed, workers came out strongly on 29 January, the strike of non-tenured faculty continues from February 2 and is joined by a growing number of students who are beginning to block the universities; the mobilization of hospital workers against the new Bachelot law [named after the Minister of health who proposes to privatise the health system] promises to be powerful one on 5 March. There is a rising level of anger among workers throughout the country. According to the polls, 78% of the population of France supports the strike in the Antilles and 90% of the left.

In a word, a defeat of the employers and government in Guadeloupe and Martinique would create the very real specter of a general strike that would affect the heart of French capitalism and would therefore, at a time when the world goes into an increasingly violent crisis, have huge international implications. If they find no agreement with the LKP and the CF5, they run the risk of hardening the general strike, because workers cannot accept to have a four to six weeks general strike for nothing. Moreover, the longer the strike lasts, the greater the risk of contagion to France, despite the deliberate policy of union leaderships to leave our brothers and sisters isolated in the Antilles by refusing to generalize the mobilizations and leaving the next day of action until 19 March.

This extremely dangerous situation for the French bourgeoisie, which explains the excitement and divisions between the employers and the government, and the intervention of a Ségolène Royal demanding (so unusual!) that employers grant the Guadeloupe workers on the lowest wages a 200 euro monthly increase. The Socialist Party, in fact, has the most elected legislators for the "region" of Guadeloupe and is therefore well aware that the continuation of the general strike could jeopardize its own power, rightly identified by the workers and the people as a mere left variant of the colonial policy that has always been implemented by the French State.

In addition, the SP representing that sector of the bourgeoisie that want to avoid a avoid a general strike in France, asked Sarkozy to add some more concessions to workers and fewer to banks in his plan to “save capitalism”. The SP support for wage claims of the poorest workers is therefore a minor tactical difference with Sarkozy.

The standoff with the bosses and the state shows that to win workers must ask who has the power

The intervention of the PS shows that it is the question of who has the power that is being raised in Guadeloupe and Martinique. Indeed, the contempt displayed by Sarkozy in refusing to meet the demands, and the start of the crackdown by the police have completed to discredited the French regime. The legitimacy of the colonial State, openly serving the bosses and the "békés" [rich creoles] has long been lost for the workers and the people, as evidenced over the years the success of the UGTG, union independence, and autonomous organizations.

Yet it had maintained the illusion that it could provide social benefits to the workers in colonies - although those gains were actually imposed on the bourgeoisie and the state by the class struggle in France and the colonies. But in dismantling these longstanding social gains, allowing rising unemployment and poverty in the colonies, refusing today to meet basic demands, the "republican" veil that masked France’s colonial rule has been finally totally discredited.

Moreover, while the reformist leaders of Reform and the LKP and CF5 launched the strike primarily to raise immediate economic demands, the depth, duration and dynamics of the strike has tended to break out of this narrow framework. In particular, the strikers have organized the production and distribution of certain goods and services, including gasoline, gas, and electricity to maintain the strike. So the logic is for the spontaneous emergence of production and distribution controlled by the workers themselves. Similarly, the marches and pickets while organized and managed by the LKP and the CF5 have a logic of self-organization which breaks out of the controls of the leaders.

Indeed, the main leaders of the LKP and the CF5 are militant but in the cause of reform. [see footnote]. That's why they seek an "end to the crisis". But are the workers and the people of Guadeloupe and Martinique willing to stop a powerful strike of four to six weeks for such a meager result? It is up to them to decide, but nothing is less certain, as shown on the 17-18/02 by the unruly behavior of young strikers against the LKP organisers, the riots in Martinique on 26/ 02, and the demands by the 30 000 demonstrators Pointe-à-Pitre on March 1 who rejected any agreement by the LKP until it was guaranteed by all the bosses and the government.

In addition, the call for a general strike on the island of Reunion [in the Indian Ocean] on March 5, opens the possibility of the spread of the uprising in the Antilles, and out of control of the reformist leaders. And in France, workers are increasingly likely to want to follow suit.
In Guadeloupe and Martinique, there is evidence now that the real satisfaction of claims is impossible without radicalization. Indeed, the refusal to give the MEDEF and the government shows better than long speeches impasse reformism: even a general strike for six weeks is not enough to impose the satisfaction of claims the most basic! It will be for workers to decide whether or not to strike if the LKP and the CF5 call for resumption of work. But it is clear that the only way to truly win is to go further, to radicalize the general strike and self-organization.

Therefore, based on the power of the general strike, workers can propose to continue the struggle, but on the basis of a new program to fight with new methods and requiring the leaders of the LKP and CF5 to incorporate and implement them:
  • For the implementation of a General Assembly [GA] of all the companies on strike, the election of strike committees and federations at all levels, with mandated and recallable delegates (union or other) and a Central Committee to conduct the strike on the basis of militant workers democracy. Only then can the strikers control their own strike, decide for themselves what they are willing to accept from the State and employers and in particular how they will continue their movement, so that it continues until all their demands are met.
  • For the GA and the strike committees to vote to occupy the companies under workers control to make them work to meet the needs of the people, deciding what should be produced and how it should be distributed. This is the condition to prevent deterioration of the general strike, to keep public support and develop the ultimate, revolutionary, self-organization of the strike.
  • For the withdrawal of all French repressive forces, whose very presence is a threat to further struggle. For the formation of workers and popular centralised self-defence committees: it is the only way to collectively impose a deterrent force against the state forces of repression, to avoid the trap of isolated initiatives and to minimize the effects of the uncontrollable proliferation of weapons smuggling in the Antilles.
There is no other solution for the general strike to radicalize and strengthen itself in the context of reform and to avoid the trap of divide and rule set by the government. This is what the revolutionaries should explain to workers, independently against the reformist leaders who want to end the strike while the claims are not met. They must say this clearly, in particular the leaders of Workers Fight, a group linked to LO and plays a leading role in CGTG, those of CERCASOL and GRS (related to the NPA) and those of the Alliance of Workers and Peasants (related to the POI and in senior positions in several unions, including FP and UGTG).

At the same time, the situation itself shows clearly that a general strike is not enough, and raises the question of who holds the political power. Faced with the French colonial state and its servants in the UMP and PS, which have always served the "Békés" and all the big bosses of the West Indies, there will ultimately be no alternative to the seizure of power by the workers themselves. At this stage, the workers in the Caribbean do not consciously have this goal, but they have long been sick of the colonial power, the UMP and the SP and trust the LKP in Guadeloupe and the CF5 in Martinique. That is why it is legitimate to demand of those who are leading these workers fronts to claim they have the power and to form a provisional government as the alternative to the discredited French state and its forces of repression, its prefects, its regional and general political representatives.

This obviously would cause a break with the bourgeois parties openly participating in these fronts. But the majority of workers and people would support such a government to meet their social and democratic demands. This government would have to expropriate without compensation the large companies and large fortunes of the Békés, and centralize the planning of production and distribution controlled by the workers themselves. To mobilize all categories of workers (public and private sector workers and employees, but also small farmers, shopkeepers and artisans, students ...) and to ensure the right to self-determination of the Guadelupian people oppressed for centuries by the French colonial state rule.

Such a government would convene a constituent assembly of workers and oppressed people, who freely decide the status of the country, its structures, its laws, including redefinition on an equal basis, its links with France. It would decide on its relations with neighboring countries, including Cuba and other Caribbean islands, Venezuela and the countries of Central America. Finally, the government would speak to the workers and peoples of other colonies and the workers in metropolitan France to make the same call and engage the in same struggle against the French State.

To support the struggle of workers of the Antilles and for our own demands, we must fight for the indefinite general strike in France

The workers of France cannot remain spectators, we must show solidarity with workers and the people of Guadeloupe and Martinique. This should not be an abstract solidarity, but the best help we can give them is to fight for the indefinite general strike in France. For that is the only way to raise the question of who has the power and force the employers and Sarkozy to give up repression in the colonies and to meet our demands both there and in France. Therefore we must:
  • Convince our co-workers to participate in massive demonstrations of support for a general strike in Guadeloupe and Martinique, and fight for our organizations to actually mobilize all the necessary support to the strikers in the colonies;
  • Build and develop of ongoing struggles, such as the indefinite strike in higher education, the mobilization of the hospital workers against the Bachelot law, strikes at the post office in the private sector for wages and against dismissal, etc..
  • Build strike committees in companies and institutions to prepare for an indefinite general strike, without waiting for the new "action day" which the union leaderships use to demobilize workers. The aim is to concretely help workers to build their movements to prepare for the indefinite strike. We must also create a self-organization of the ranks to demand that the political union leaderships stop their "dialogue" with the government. They must follow the leaders of Guadeloupe and Martinique in urgently preparing and calling for the general strike and pickets on the basis of a platform which includes the main demands of workers:
  • Meet the demands of workers in Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guiana and Réunion;
  • No to repression, immediate withdrawal of forces of repression of the French state from all the colonies;
  • EUR 300 monthly increase for all;
  • No redundancy, no closure of business;
  • Opening of books and publishing the bonuses of managers and capitalists;
  • Cancellation of all job cuts in the civil service;
  • Removal of the tax shield to tax the rich;
  • Withdrawal of all counter-reforms of the government: the general review of public policy (Revision Générale des Politiques Publiques - RGPP) [to increase public sector efficiencies, i.e. cut public spending], postal service reform, reform of schools, decrees amending the status of faculty and competitions for recruitment of teachers, LRU law [restructuring of the universities as businesses], Bachelot bill against the public hospital closures and relocation of utilities useful to people, etc.. ;
  • Fight the repressive immigration laws, immediate halt to raids and deportations.
The NPA and other organizations that claim to be Anti-capitalist must fight for the implementation of the general strike and take concrete measures to build it. They have already called for demonstrations of solidarity with workers of the West Indies. However, the SP has boycotted it, while the PCF and the main trade union branches are calling for it only because they fear above all the extension of the general strike in France. Thus the NPA and other organizations that claim to be Anti-capitalist must together, against the leadership politics of the main unions, take bold initiatives to prepare the political conditions for the general strike: they have a crucial responsibility in this situation.

Support for the united front and even for their leaders when they are victims of attacks by the bosses and the government does not prevent criticism of their politics. In this case, the platform of demands of the LKP, which includes almost all the unions, reformist political parties (such as PCG) and "extreme left" (including Workers Fight linked to LO), but also bourgeois (as Les Verts), as well as cultural associations, contains a long list of very basic demands including wages, hiring contractors, transport, living conditions, the right to training, the right to organize, defense of cultural identities, and so on.
There are also a large number of highly questionable demands, typically reformist, which are against the interests of the workers and people of Guadeloupe. For example, the LKP claims higher wages but not on the basis of the needs of employees. It advocates the participation of employee representatives in the governing bodies of the company with voting rights, ie for the association of trade unions in the implementation of management strategies. It does not call for a ban on layoffs and plant closings, but a "social plan" in case of redundancies, with "reclassification and mandatory training. It does not rule against public aid to private companies, but only for their "return (...) in case of redundancy." It does not rule against working on Sundays or even against its extension, but the "duty of an agreement or Branch Company before any work permit on Sunday."
As the struggle against the "masters of education " is developing in France, LKP demand a moratorium of 4 years for the reform of teacher recruitment, the time allowing the establishment by the UAG [Université des Antilles-Guyane] Masters of professionalization and the output of the first promotions.
It decides unilaterally for the exemption from property tax for the benefit of farmers throughout the country, without distinguishing between large and small farmers. It does not call for expropriation without compensation of large companies, but supports the building of a luxury hotel on the basis of providing jobs, when these companies have been enriched by plunder and exploitation, and have sacked many workers!
Finally, it says nothing against the French State and does not call for the right of self-determination of the people of Guadeloupe. The union the UGTG itself, which leads the LKP, despite its anti-colonialist and progressive militancy is reformist. Thus it supports the border police in acting to stop illegal immigration as "law-abiding professionals of the Republic".
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CWG critique of the above article: (first posted as a comment)

Some major differences that the CWG and FLT have with the Tendency CLAIRE document are, first:

There is no demand for the immediate independence of Guadeloupe, such as is specified in Lenin's Imperialism with respect to colonies.

It is not sufficient to support the "right to self-determination" of colonies, especially if you are workers in the imperialist country that oppresses the colony. It is necessary to come out directly for self-determination to express the fact that you as workers do not share with the imperialist ruling class the benefits of the exploitation of the colony. This was one of the 21 conditions of membership of the revolutionary 3rd International.

Not to do so leaves you open to the criticism that you are labor aristocrats who recognise the abstract right of the colonies to self determination, but do not make a practical fight for it in France which is the fundamental duty of French workers.

Second, and directly related, the TC does not as revolutionaries spell out how this independence struggle can be won. It can only be won by a permanent revolution, led by the workers and poor peasants, and in turn led by a revolutionary party. It is necessary to say the truth, to spell out that that means a revolutionary insurrection, the defeat of the French occupying army, and the forming of a soviet type dictatorship of the proletariat.

Instead of this the TC statement talks about the formation of a Provisional Government that can take power peacefully without the formation of soviets and workers militias, and without the defeat and splitting of the imperialist army in the seizure of power. As if the French imperialists will allow the Guadeloupians to take power peacefully and expropriate the property of the imperialists and the colonial ruling class, the "bekes"!

Following the formation of a Provisional Government, the TC says that the realisation of independence then becomes the role of a Constituent Assembly which will decide the relations between Guadeloupe and France as well as other countries.

Comrades, a Workers Government is the executive of the revolution, not a Constituent Assembly which is a bourgeois government! This is an admission that the Provisional Government is a bourgeois government, or a fundamental confusion that can only lead to defeat in Guadeloupe!

Such a Constituent Assembly is a purely pacifist exercise in self-determination that leaves the role of the French workers conveniently out of the picture. In reality, Guadeloupe will not become independent without a socialist revolution that seizes power by smashing the imperialist army.

That in turn cannot be successful without the workers in France embarking on a political general strike that disarms and brings down the Sarkozy government and replaces it with a Workers government that can expropriate the capitalist imperialists and free all the colonies.

Iin France the program of the TC falls short on this by failing to fight for a political general strike, for the formation of workers councils and self-defence committees on the road to the seizure of power. It allows the leadership of the NCA to get away with a passive, pacifist and reformist negotiations with the Sarkozy regime.

The current struggles breaking out in France must take on a clear militant and anti-imperialist character which subordinates the immediate economic demands of the French workers to the liberation of the colonies. The only way to do that is to make the independence of all the French colonies and territories the center of the working class program.

Immediate Independence for the French colonies is not negotiable. It is the pre-condition for the free decision of colonies like Guadeloupe to decide what relationship it wishes with other nations.

We conclude that the TC unfortunately in this leaflet reveals a left centrism that speaks of "taking power", "expropriation" etc., but does not have an action program to realise this objective in the colonies or in France.

In this the TC shows itself to be part of the centrist left Trotskyists who are acting as the left wing of the Bolivarian revolution, liquidating itself into the "united" anticapitalist party, that promotes a reformist road to 21st century socialism.

The outcome of the general strike in Guardeloupe where the LKP demand for a 200 Euro a month increase was only agreed to by Sarkozy to prevent the strike from spilling over into a revolutionary insurrection in all the French colonies and in France itself.

The LC plays a role in limiting in advance the development of this potential revolution by specifiying a left bourgeois democracy of a Provisional Government, peaceful road to self-determination, and the role of the general strike only to pressure Sarkozy to the left, and ultimately to replace his rightwing regime with a left popular front regime of the NPA and the Socialist Party as the new party of the petty bourgeoisie, the "shadow of the bourgeosie".

The TC can object to the NPA blocking with the SP, but the only answer to this is not to continue to contain revolutionaries inside the NPA with their hands tied by the Socialist Party on behalf of the imperialists, but to break with the NPA on a revolutionary program of the seizure of power and the formation of a mass revolutionary party as part of a new Trotskyist International.

FLT: International Solidarity with the Kliptown 5

Comrades and friends of WIVL,

We have received your letter dated on March 10th, where you tell us about the charge “of public violence” against 5 activists who belong the Anti-Privatization Forum.

Of course, in representation of the Secretariat of International Coordination and Action –SCAI- of FLT, we call on you to launch together a true international campaign to prevent the South African worker and popular fighters from being put in prison.

Besides, we also take as ours the demands: Forward to decent houses for all! Organise or starve! Since these are slogans and demands of the entire international working class.

As you may see in the Argentine LOI-CI paper we sent you, with an international campaign, we helped to free the worker oil fighters of Las Heras (southern Argentina) from prison after three years of rotting in the jails of the bourgeois regime of Argentina.

Comrades, your call and campaign has been already sent to all the groups of FLT and International groups with whom we have a relationship with the aim of starting fast a campaign of pronouncements of all the world worker organizations.

We should not expect less than that. In the secret CIA jails the combatants of the Afghan and Iraqi resistance are rotting in there. Meanwhile the Guantanamo prisoners are kept in jail and thousands of Palestine fighters are kept like hostages in the prisons of the murderous Zionist State of Israel. Two Afro-American workers, leaders of Oakland dock workers have already been prosecuted for leading the struggle against the imperialist war within the heart of United States.

From FLT, we affirm that the prosecution and conviction of 5 worker fighters of South Africa is part of the repression against the anti-imperialist and popular workers in the whole world side by side with the brutal attack launched against the working class’ labor conquests at worldwide level by the imperialist bourgeois front in bankruptcy whose crisis is shifted on to the backs of the masses with starvation, misery, unemployment, high cost of living and as it couldn't have been any other way, with repression and counterrevolutionary wars.

In advance, comrades, we are with you in your struggle. We‘ll publish your letter to be known by all the worker organizations where our groups fight along side the exploits in Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and Central America.

Only an International campaign of the World working class can overturn the charges against the 5 South African activists and free from the jails the Iraqi and Palestine resistance, the worker fighters against the war in USA and the more than 4000 prosecuted immigrants separated from their children who are in prison under the yoke of the imperialist US regime.

Release from the jails of the Zionist state the thousand of Palestine prisoners and non-prosecution and unconditional freedom to the 5 worker fighters of South Africa who face the cynicism and cowardice of building 4 stars hotels which cost $2.3 million alongside the shacks of the slave workers in South Africa!

  • For a single International campaign of the worker organizations to liberate from the jails all fighters who confront the capitalist barbarism, its repression and its counterrevolutionary wars!
  • Freedom for the prisoners of the combative Oakland dock workers who fight in USA against the imperialist war of extermination and genocide launched by the butcher Bush over Iraqi nation!
  • Long live the South African working class!
  • Long live the Afro-American workers who confronted the imperialist counterrevolutionary Wars!
  • Freedom to the prisoners of the Iraqi and Afghan and Palestine resistance!
  • Freedom to the more of 4000 Hispano-American immigrants who are in Obama’s jails separated from their families!

As WIVL of South Africa says: Organise or starve!

For the internationalist unity of the world working class!


Carlos Munzer, Laura Sánchez y Martín F. for the Secretariat of International Coordination and Action (SCAI) of the Fracción Leninista Trotskista (Leninist Trotskyist Fraction)

Reject 90 day Jobs! Reject 9 day fortnights!

Fight layoffs with occupations and workers control!
For 30 hour week without loss of pay!

The government has come up with two direct attacks to make workers pay for the bosses’ crisis. The 90 day fire at will Act was introduced under urgency as the key measure to create a reserve pool of cheap labor to cut wages across the whole economy. Labor Minister Wilkinson says it’s ‘voluntary’. But will WINZ stand-down workers who refuse these jobs or are fired under this Act?

Unite Waitemata
branch is organizing unemployed to fight the 90 day fire at will Act and to fight WINZ if it stands them down! And the Unite union Rat Patrol is taking the fight to defend workers to workplaces.

The other measure is the 9 day fortnight for workers facing layoffs. But it’s only for six months. It amounts to a cut in working hours and loss of at least half a day’s pay. It’s a creeping dole as the state will pay the minimum wage for only 5 hours on the 10th day. The boss has 6 months to get the workers to cut wages further or join the dole queue. The only answer to unemployment is workers occupations and control of those industries that close down or layoff lots of workers.

Making workers pay for the crisis

It looks like John Key is cosying up to the CTU. Or rather the other way around. Helen Kelly was pretty chuffed by the Jobs Summit. When Key came up with the 9 day (and 1 day training) fortnight, Kelly insisted that workers got paid for their training day. Key has agreed to a state subsidy around the minimum wage at $12.50 per hour but for only 5 hours! This is in effect a creeping dole and as production drops, so will the working days get cut back. So get ready for the 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 day fortnight with wages cut accordingly.

Here the partnership of the CTU and employers is working well. The CTU is proving its usefulness to a rightwing worker-bashing government. Workers fearing unemployment will be forced to accept this deal and get a wage cut around 5 to 10% to start and more as the working days are cutback. So the CTU and WINZ are in a partnership managing the reduction in wages so that workers will pay their share of the crisis!

The CTU is also offering support for workers against the 90 days hire and fire Act. It’s offering help to non-unionised workers too. They promise to leaflet workers and organize protests and pickets when workers are threatened by this law. But they are only doing this because the militant organizers in the unions are already organizing this fight. Unite union has already formed a Rat Patrol of union activists to educate and defend workers facing the sack within the 90 days.

And the Waitemata branch of Unite is actively recruiting unemployed in West Auckland to build support for unemployed who will be pressured to take the 90 day jobs, and when sacked possibly face a WINZ stand down (see Unite Waitemata Leaflet.) The fact that Unite union is actively campaigning against the 90 day Act will give some substance to the CTU offer of help.

Make the bosses pay for their crisis

The CTU bureaucracy in partnership with the bosses doesn’t want to fight redundancies unless it doesn’t cost the bosses anything. So the six-month 9 day fortnight is OK even if it is a cut in wages. It will put workers in the position of forcing them to accept further cuts or join the dole queue. We are against any cut in hours if it means a cut in pay. We are for shorter working hours on a living wage.

But workers can stop sackings and wage cuts before they happen. If the boss closes down, occupy the plant and keep it running. There are many examples of such opportunities lost. Feltex, CHH, Kaiapoi Woolen Mills etc. Instead of paying for their crisis we need to turn it into our opportunity. If John Key’s “iconic” F&P is bailed out then it must be nationalized without compensation under workers control.

No compensation for two reasons. First, at F&P like all companies it is workers who create the company income. Second, F&P like all companies in NZ has received public subsidies for years. It must be under workers control because, first, only workers have an interest in working and seeing the results of their hard work meeting the needs of the people and not profits. Second, workers have the knowledge and motivation to keep innovating new useful products whether the market says yes or no.

In the case of companies like Pacific Brands, Sealords and Izards who are making workers redundant because of the global crisis, we are for workers occupations to take control of the company, prevent the machinery from being stripped out (as Australian unions are doing with Pacific Brands), and continuing production under workers management. In the process workers will be able to make democratic decisions about whether they want to cut their wages and hours to compete on the capitalist market, or begin to trade with other worker- managed factories around the world like in Argentina or Venezuela.

If this fails and workers are isolated and sacked they should make sure that are still unionised and refuse to sign up to 90 day fire at will. Unionised unemployed are a force that can resist being forced to act as cheap, casualised labour to force down wages, or what is worse, strike-breakers when workers are on strike or locked out. If WINZ cuts off the benefit then the organised unemployed should occupy WINZ in protest. If that fails (they all get arrested) and are forced to do the 90 days or starve, then and only then should they ring the CTU hotline for advice. Because all that advice amounts to is how to put in a personal grievance which won’t win because the bosses’ law allows you to be turned into a cheap labor wage slave for 90 days and 90 days and 90 days and 90 days.

The only way to defeat the 90 days bosses’ weapon to create pool of cheap slave labor and the 9 day fortnight to cut wages is to organise and fight it as a working class movement.

Make the bosses pay for their own crisis!

• No privatizations of ACC, the Cullen Fund, AHB etc!

• No Public Private Partnerships!

• Jobs for All on a living wage!

• Unite the employed and unemployed by reducing the working week until there are jobs for all with no loss of pay!

• If companies close or make mass redundancies, occupy, and continue production under workers’ management!

• For nationalization of all bailed out companies without compensation and under workers’ control!

• For workers’ defence committees and pickets to protect occupations!

• For a National Congress of Workers to work out a workers program to fight the crisis!

International Women's Day Everyday!

The reason that there is an International Women’s Day on March 8th every year is that women (and men) workers are not strong enough to make every day their day. Almost in resignation to this fact, IWD is in danger of becoming a token event instead of being held in the spirit of the women whose struggle inspired it in the USA . And by those who made it the day of the revolutionary women’s movement in the Russian Revolution or the many examples of truly heroic struggles since such as the Iranian women who mobilized against Khomeini in 1979 to reject the Hijab (see the amazing footage in this clip).

Today it is clear that women are still the ‘second sex’ in the job market, and that ‘woman bashing’ has brutal physical forms and more subtle attitudinal forms.

Yet IWD is kept alive by small bands of radical and revolutionary women over the world despite the defeats that women have faced in the last decades. International Women’s Day will become every day when women and men workers unite to overthrow the capitalist system, and when the last vestiges of patriarchal power are eliminated in a communist society.

1951 lockout; a "glorious defeat"?

We see that Irish Bill on The Standard is exposing the Labourites hatred of strike action. He accuses Chris Trotter of celebrating the “glorious defeat” of the 1951 lockout. He’s wrong Trotter doesn’t “glorify” a defeat. Trotter thinks ’51 was a victory for workers. It’s the Labourites who see ’51 as a defeat. That’s why Irish Bill says if you see it as a victory you are in fact “glorifying” a defeat. The Labourites are proud of that defeat since they wouldn’t want their betrayal of the lockout to be seen as having failed.

The Labour Party was conceived out of the defeat of 1913 to steer workers into parliament. In 51 Nash said neither for not against. A bob each way. You see, having used anti-strike laws against the workers during the war, and attacked the Carpenters strike in 1949, strike action was seen as a vote of no confidence in Labour’s reformist road to what…?

Nowadays according to Michael Cullen its called “democratic socialism” when it’s neither. There was nothing democratic or socialist when in ‘84 Labour stabbed the unions in the back. In ‘91 Labour’s bedfellow Ken Douglas and the leadership of some of the unions like the PPTA sold out the majority membership vote for a general strike to smash the Employment Contracts Act. That’s why Labourites are against industrial disputes. For them unions mobilize members as voting fodder. The conveyer belt is blatant. The EPMU leader Andrew Little has just been appointed Labour Party President.

We have no brief for Chris Trotter. He is a reformist. But he is right to reject the pathetic line that Irish Bill runs about “glorious defeats”. Of course it was better to fight and lose than to crawl away like licked dogs as Jock Barnes said. There are Labour Party defeats and there are proletarian defeats, and in our view this was a “glorious defeat”.

‘51 was a defeat since the bosses succeeded in smashing the Watersiders’ union. The militant leadership of the unions were persecuted, blacklisted or dispersed around the country. But it was less of a defeat than if they had not fought. That would have proved that there was no union movement in NZ other than a tame Labourite bureaucracy. That would have been the sort of defeat you get when you don’t even fight.

We don’t celebrate the defeat of ‘51. But we do celebrate the militant workers who had split with the Labour Party and the right wing mafia bureaucracy of the “rat” Fintan Patrick Walsh who owned the biggest dairy farm in the country. Against the odds and Labour Party treachery they stood up and fought for their rights. That’s the same militant minority that will stand up to Key as the crisis dumps its shit on workers in NZ, and standup and fight against Labour to throw the CTU leadership out of bed with the bosses in their “partnership”.

The only reason that we are getting the show of some fight against the 90 Day Fire at Will Act from the CTU is because they know that the ‘left’ in the unions is already fighting it and they don’t want to lose control of the unions.

So Irish Bill comes in on cue, to shit on the militants and try to sow demoralisation in their ranks blaming workers for being unable or unwilling to fight. This is accompanied by a thinly veiled economic nationalism that calls on workers to identify with their kiwi bosses, naturally by voting for the Labour Party.

Kupapa* fuck off the Foreshore and Seabed

Inspired by the Bolivian constitution, the Maori Party wants National to scrap the F&S legislation and allow Maori to claim customary right to the F&S as an indigenous right. But this is not a matter of indigenous rights or cultural pride. It’s the promise of a fat profit. And this will not be shared among all Maori. The Maori Party has sold out its working class Maori voters for the chance to grab title to the F&S. This is a huge resource already being plundered by Maori fishing interests in league with Japanese monopolies super-exploiting Maori workers. (see Socialise Sealords). This is also the case with the Treaty Settlements which benefit the ‘tribal capitalists’ and their bureaucratic mates and not the vast majority of Maori workers who do not have strong tribal affiliations.

When the F&S issue arose, we opposed the Bill, and instead called for Maori to occupy traditional F&S sites and for the Pakeha working class to support these occupations. We saw this struggle as opening the way to the uniting of workers across racial barriers to win workers control of key F%$ resources and keep them out the hands of both multinationals and greed tribal capitalists. Today, our position is to reject the National/Maori Party deal completely. There is nothing progressive to come out of the repealing of the Act. This was part of the deal done between National and the Maori Party to keep the right wing National Party in power. The trade off is that the Maori Party which represents Maori capitalists will get their share of the national resources. Meanwhile Nationalhas blank cheque to attack all workers. Nothing good for Maori or Pakeha workers can come out of this deal to keep National in power.

All of this is covered up in kupapa words: “Our government takes pride in delivering on this part of the Confidence and Supply agreement between the two parties. It’s an agreement that was intended to form the basis for an enduring and constructive relationship between our two parties. The Maori Party, and Rahui Katene in particular, have worked closely with Attorney General Chris Finlayson on the terms of reference for this review,” says Mr Key. "This review is so important for us," says Dr Pita Sharples. "The issue goes back to the foundations of our party, the identity of our people as tangata whenua, and us fulfilling our promises to the people." "It is very pleasing to be here today," says Tariana Turia. "We want to put right an injustice that should never have happened, but we do not want to create another injustice for anyone else. We have said the Act should be repealed, and we are certainly open to hear what the panel might recommend about the best way forward for the country."

* Kupapa: Maori who fought alongside the armed settlers against those Maori who fought to defend their land and independence from the settlers.

Privatising Repression

A bosses’ crisis which attacks workers to make them pay for it, always creates a workers fightback. To head off that fightback the bosses use the popular front where workers parties and the labor bureaucracy tries to tie the hands of workers to prevent their independent mobilization. Behind the popular front the bosses organize their repressive arm of the state, like the ‘Popular’ army’ in Bolivia; the police in Greece; always backed up by the military, and of course by “private” armies, mercenaries, and paramilitaries like in Colombia etc. This repression is done in the name of the state that represents the so-called national interest in which all classes are patriotically united. This means that state repression is held to be legitimate because it is not openly acting in defence of private property. So when paramilitaries operate openly they run the risk of being seen as extra-state and do not have that legitimacy. Bosses don’t privatise the repressive forces unless they are desperate, or totally confident they will not cause a working class rebellion.

So in NZ the right wing National Party is greeting the depression and workers resistance by not only stepping up the level of state repression to criminalise youth and Maori gangs, increase prison sentences by limiting parole and flirting with the extreme-right wing ACT parties “3 strikes and your out” policy, and putting unruly youth into bootcamps, it now proposes to build new prisons under Private, Public Partnerships (PPPs) and allow the running of those prisons by private contractors.

Liberals and radicals object to privatizing the state sector because they truly believe in the need for a class-neutral state and law enforcement, and/or opposition to the profit motive or using prisoners as slave labor. They point to the US prison industry which is one of the most profitable industries.
We support these objections but not for the reasons advanced. They want to reform the capitalist state to stop the abuse of prisoners’ rights as human rights. Marxists, however, recognize that the state is the committee of the ruling class. It doesn’t really matter whether the state or private sector runs the justice system it’s the bosses’ justice in the end. As soon as workers seriously fight capitalism the justice system exposes its class rule by systematically abusing prisoners in ‘normal’ jails, Guantanamo, the camps used for migrant workers, or the secret jails kept for ‘terrorists’ .

The only way to fight the abuse of human rights is to reject the inhumanity of the whole capitalist system and replace it with a system of working class justice, run by, and for, the workers.
(see Las Heras Prisoners Freed, and Free the Kliptown Five on this blog)

Socialise Sealords

At The Standard:
“Despite making sound profits Sealord are laying off 180 workers in Nelson. They claim the move is part of restructuring and that there will be fifty new jobs aboard factory ships that will fully process fish. Remaining workers are also being asked to take a pay cut.
I’m not sure I buy that. Even with the 6-on/6-off shifts they run on these ships 50 people will struggle to process the same number of fish as 180. I know some NZ fish is catch-frozen and shipped to China for processing before being sold back into the NZ market. If this is the plan here (and so far Sealord haven’t made it clear it isn’t) then some serious questions need to be asked.

One thing is for sure though, John Key won’t be doing the asking. He’s quoted on the Herald on-line as saying: “You’ll always get quite a lot of movement in the labour market, so the challenge here, I think, is to try and hold on to as many (jobs) as you practically can and make sure you’re sending the right signals that jobs are being created.” Which basically means he sees this as a market decision that the government can, at best, send signals about. So what kind of a signal is he sending here and, if he thinks that nothing can be done, why did we just spend $65K on a summit to save jobs? I much prefer the Maori Party’s position which is that the shareholders need to suck this one up and not try to profit at the expense of their (low-wage) workers. I wonder what steps they’ll take to see that happen?”

Of course Key doesnt care about Sealords. The labour market moves like god. Key is only interested in profits moving up and wages moving down. That’s capitalism. Workers choose wages cut by $70 or lose their jobs. We say Sealord should be a cooperative, not left to number crunchers to moan about $7m lost on excess wages. The Maori Party answer is pure utopia. They ask capitalists to take a cut in profits for what: to help “low paid workers”. Don’t have illusions in the Maori Party pious phrases about “low paid workers”. The Maori Party is propping up the capitalism that survives on the back of low paid workers in their sell-out coalition with the National Party! You won’t keep Maori workers on side with your Oliver Twist begging the bosses to hearten up. For low paid workers to survive you have to junk your capitalist survival of the fittest mentality.

Sealord is half owned by “The Maori People of NZ” via Aotearoa Fisheries, 50/50 with Japanese fish multinational Nissui that advertises on its glossy website like a cult religion talking about “creating value” out of it its Nissui “genes”. Workers do not rate a mention.
The Sealord workers could take a leaf out of the Japanese best-seller, The Crab Ship a 1929 account of a strike to get their industry unionised, written by Takiji Kobayashi who was then tortured to death at 29 by the secret police, now all the rage in Japan today where it strikes a bitter chord as millions of workers face the dole and worse.

We say socialise the fishing industry let the workers run it and find new markets and conserve the rapidly depleting fish stock that the vast majority of the world needs to live on, not a few rich Asians dining out!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Argentina: Las Heras Political Prisoners released*

On Friday February 27 the Las Heras political prisoners Jose Rosales, Germany Perez, Hugo Gonzalez, Dario Catrihuala, Ramon Cortes and Juan Pablo Bilbao, were released. They had been jailed for three years by the oil company bosses and the Kirchner government, subject to all kinds of torture and inhuman treatment, as an example to intimidate the working class.

The Kirchner government appears to have released the prisoners fearing that their deterrent effect was exhausted and that they might become a rallying point for a new mass workers' offensive in Argentina or internationally. They were released just at the time when workers are beginning to mobilize in opposition to a new round of attacks on the working masses provoked by the global economic crisis. The oil and construction workers of Patagonia are raising the same demands they raised three years in the massive strike by workers at Las Heras. The government and oil companies have released the prisoners in the hope of avoiding the same upsurge of class struggle they faced at that time.

The government of Cristina Kirchner models herself on "Obama" who posed as a Democrat and defender of human rights by announcing the closure of Guantanamo while keeping Iraqi resistance fighters, Afghan and Palestinian prisons in secret CIA jails and expelling or jailing immigrant workers. Kirchner poses as the "champion of human rights" when along with her husband Nestor they locked up more than 5000 militants as political prisoners, allowed the assassination of the teacher Carlos Fuentealba, many killed through the bosses negligence at work like the 10 Bolivian migrant workers at Alua, and the disappearance of Julio Lopez.

Kirchner wants to create the impression of a ‘democratic regime’, and hopes that the release of the prisoners will give her free hand to free the assassins of the military dictatorship. Much as in the past the regime released elderly assassins like Etcheco Latz, it wants to exchange the whole genocidal officer caste in jail for the comrades of Las Heras. Once again the old theory of “amnesty” means that the dictatorship is “forgotten” so that the regime can call on the officer assassins next time it wants to repress the struggle of the exploited.

It was the unrelenting struggle of hundreds of organizations and actions nationally and internationally, and the campaign of Workers Democracy in Argentina and the FLT internationally, together with the workers of the French Hospital and Brukman that helped to break the silence around the 6 worker political prisoners of Las Heras, and took the struggle to the workers in Argentina and internationally to win the release of these comrades after three years in prison.

The comrades have been released. But they are on parole because they still face a trial and run the risk of being convicted for a maximum of life imprisonment. This is likely if the employer succeeds in defeating the proletariat and imposes the social pact in the face of the global economic crisis. That is why the fate of the comrades, like that of all militant workers, including those still in jail or facing prosecution, depends on the struggle of all workers and their organizations making common cause with the Iraqi and Afghan workers and the Palestinian people of Gaza to defeat the imperialists and the Zionists and other bourgeois lackeys that kill or imprison all those who resist the “wars for oil”.

Conversely, if labor unions and popular organizations come out in support of the comrades of Las Heras, fighting to drop the charges, the oil workers return to the struggle against sackings, for equal pay for equal work, the end to black-market work, reinstatement of the sacked, dividing the working hours among employed and unemployed with wages pegged to inflation, renationalizing and expropriating Repsol without compensation and under workers control, and link this struggle to the international proletariat, then we can defeat the “wars for oil”.

That's why Workers Democracy calls on all labor unions and popular organization that have worked to free the comrades of Las Heras to redouble the fight to drop the charges of more than 5000 militant workers who are in jail or facing charges. Build a fund to support the comrades and the families from facing poverty and hunger. Above all we call on them to join forces to convene a National Labor Congress, with delegates of the rank and file of the labor movement to confront the attacks by the monopolies, the enslaving employers, Kirchner's government and the union bureaucracy of the CGT and the CTA, to make the capitalist pay for their own crisis.

From Workers Democracy we make the call for the released comrades of Las Heras who are willing to do so to take the leadership in the fight to release all the political prisoners. Without a doubt we cannot fight and win a strong National Labor Congress while our best fighters are in jail as the political hostages of the bosses and the Kirchner regime.

¡Comrades get to work!

Translated and edited by CWG from Democracia Obrera 35, March 2008.

South Africa: Campaign to support the Kliptown 5

Comrades/ friends

This is just an initial report on the national organiser of the WIVL and 4 other activists having been found guilty today of public violence . The charges relate to a protest by the community in Kliptown, under the banner of the Anti-Privatization Forum, on 3 Sept 2007 when they took to the streets to demand houses. In the town where the Freedom Charter was adopted ion 26 June 1955, Kliptown, thousands still live in shacks despite the document promising houses for all.

On the 18th April last year (2008), there were confirmed cases of cholera in Kliptown. One of the first people to contract it was Kelebogile Malefane, who died on the 12th June 2008 of this preventable disease.

The response of the ANC government to years of protest by the Kliptown community for houses? They built a R200 million white elephant, called Freedom Charter Square. Part of the square is a 4 star Holiday Inn, which cost R23 million to build. This hotel remains mostly more than half-empty while 30m from its doors lies a sprawling squatter camp where raw sewage flows in the streets.

The magistrate in this case repeatedly postponed the case to give the police more time to find 'evidence' against the 4 accused.

On Friday, the 4 face the prospect of being jailed for the crime of being leaders of the resistance to capitalist non-delivery to the working class. The case is being held at the Protea North magistrate's court in Soweto.

It should be the capitalist parliamentary parties who should be on trial for the crime of keeping the working class without homes and of being the agents of profits for monopoly capital.

We have in principle adopted a call for a national and international campaign against the victimization of these working class activists. We are calling for mass protests at the court on Friday 13 March 2008 as part of a further general mobilization of the working class. The finding of the court exposes the true nature of the coming April elections, namely that it is a contest between the bourgeois parties as to who will be the new manager to serve the capitalist masters. Not a single one of them can commit to building decent houses for all the working class; thus it follows that every single one of them would support the arrest and jailing of activists who find themselves at the leadership of the working class. A vote for any of the parliamentary parties is a vote for more cholera, more homelessness, more starvation, more arrests of activists.

Forward to decent houses for all! Organise or starve!
Further details will be released in due course.

UPDATE (12 March)

Kliptown Five found guilty of public violence.

The housing struggles in Kliptown, Soweto, reflect the true meaning of the Freedom Charter, namely that a section of the black capitalist will benefit out of the democratisation of the country. In the words of Nelson Mandela when commenting on the so-called nationalisation clause from this Charter, from the June 1955 edition of the Liberator magazine:

'The breaking up and democratisation of these monopolies will open up fresh fields for the development of a prosperous Non-European bourgeois class. For the first time in the history of the country the Non-European bourgeoisie will have the opportunity to own in their own name and right mills and factories, and trade and private enterprise will boom and flourish as never before.'

What is important further, is that this development of a black capitalist class, is at the expense of the demands and rights of the working class. What follows from this is that the new black managers, the ANC in government, then adopt all the repressive measures of a capitalist regime, which indeed they are. The monopolies remain largely untouched and the black capitalist class are thus junior partners of imperialism. The ANC are incapable of even fighting for the demands of all the black middle class, let alone that of the working class. Yet, the Cosatu and SACP leaders all call for a resounding electoral victory for this capitalist ANC.

The national organiser of the WIVL, Thabo Modisane and 4 other activists having been found guilty on the 10th March 2008 on a charge of public violence . The charges relate to a protest by the community in Kliptown, under the banner of the Anti-Privatization Forum, on 3 Sept 2007 when they took to the streets to demand houses. On the 14th August 2007 the community had handed over a memorandum calling for their local councillor to be recalled and for adequate housing for all. In the town where the Freedom Charter was adopted ion 26 June 1955, Kliptown, thousands still live in shacks despite the document promising houses for all. To date, one and half years later, the memorandum has not been responded to.

On the 18th April last year (2008), there were confirmed cases of cholera in Kliptown. One of the first people to contract it was Kelebogile Malefane, who died on the 12th June 2008 of this preventable disease.
The response of the ANC government to years of protest by the Kliptown community for houses? They built a R200 million white elephant, called Freedom Charter Square. Part of the square is a 4 star Holiday Inn, which cost R23 million to build. This hotel remains mostly more than half-empty while 30m from its doors lies a sprawling squatter camp where raw sewage flows in the streets.
The magistrate in this case repeatedly postponed the case more than 20 times to give the police more time to find 'evidence' against the 5 accused.
On Friday 13th march 2008, the 5 face the prospect of being jailed for the crime of being leaders of the resistance to capitalist non-delivery to the working class. The case is being held at the Protea North magistrate's court in Soweto. Public violence carries a possible sentence of 5 years in prison.
It should be the capitalist parliamentary parties who should be on trial for the crime of keeping the working class without homes and of being the agents of profits for monopoly capital.
We call for a national and international campaign against the victimization of these working class activists. We are calling for mass protests at the court on Friday 13 March 2008 as part of a further general mobilization of the working class. The finding of the court exposes the true nature of the coming April elections, namely that it is a contest between the bourgeois parties as to who will be the new manager to serve the capitalist masters. Not a single one of them can commit to building decent houses for all the working class; thus it follows that every single one of them would support the arrest and jailing of activists who find themselves at the leadership of the working class. A vote for any of the parliamentary parties is a vote for more cholera, more homelessness, more starvation, more arrests of activists.
The capitalist monopolies made over R700 Billion in profits last year. Yet the ANC-SACP-Cosatu Popular Front bails out these same capitalists with hundeds of billions of Rands (Eskom electricity scam of new power stations. the 2010 stadia, etc). The capitalists continue to retrench hundreds of thousands of workers; no-one is bailing out the over 20 million starving; who will bail out the Kliptown 5? It is only united working class action, nationally and internationally can stop the imperialist attacks. The deeper their crisis, the more they will adopt harsher measures against working class fighters.
Forward to decent houses for all! Organise or starve!

Further information on the details of the court proceedings can be obtained from the APF

( Silumko Radebe ph 072 1737 268 or 011 333 8338)

The above statement is that of the WIVL.

Shaheed Mahomed
Workers International Vanguard League
1st Floor, Community House
41 Salt River rd
Salt River
South Africa
ph 0822020617
fax 0880214476777