Thursday, October 29, 2009
(a Balance Sheet of the October 24 Mobilizing Conference to Save Education held at UC Berkeley)
The September Day of Mobilization
The reformists and fake-leftists who, are at the moment in charge of the emerging student/workers movement on the California campuses, have a limited perspectives of sporadic one day “strike”, and protests that only exhausts, demoralizes and lead the movement to a dead end. This strategy does not bother the ruling class.
First we need to qualify what is a strike. A strike is a fundamental tool of the working class in the class war. The capitalist class does not give any concessions unless it has to under the pressure of antagonistic forces and power of the working class. A real strike must be enforced by solid uncrossable and if necessary violent picket lines. The picket line is the means of the working class to defend itself. Taking them to their logical conclusions the picket line turns from a defensive tool into offensive tools: from picket lines to defend strikes to workers’ defense guards to defend the overall needs and conquests of the working class, leading ultimately to the struggle for power to overthrow capitalism. The first rule for a strike to win is: it needs powerful picket lines. The second rule is that nobody crosses the picket lines. Without these fundamental rules a strike is not a real strike.
With this in mind the September 24th day of action was not a day of strikes it was a day of protests where many students cut classes and some workers were AWOL. The students and the workers who participated in the walkout did not set up serious picket lines. At UC Berkeley, for example, the picket lines were set periodically in one location and they did not seriously try to stop scabs from going in to work or class. So thousands of students went to classes and ignored the day of protest. During the big rally in the middle of the day, our organization went into the Administration building to see if the workers honored the strike. We found out that the majority of the workers were working all offices were open and doing business while 5,000 were “on strike” just feet away on the steps of the building!
The lessons are that a day of protests a couple of times a year do not work. They do not force the capitalists and their servants at the Board of Regents to stop the relentless attacks. In turn, the ruling class will go on with its plans of raising fees (in reality tuition) in January, and laying off staff and faculty members in the middle of March 2010.
From the very beginning the strategy of the reformists in charge of the movement was to derail it to go nowhere. The type of protests they initiated without real strikes are particularly ineffective especially when the capitalist system is in the deepest crisis since the 1930’s. Right now the capitalists want to destroy the public education system as part of their drive to lower the standard of living of the US working class, to that of the workers in the semi-colonies that US imperialism enslaves. Obama has unleashed education secretary Arne Duncan to privatize, the as of yet not-for-profit frontier of, public education. The threat of educated proletarian youth rising up to stop their plans through united action with workers makes them tremble with remembrance of May ’68. The only way to restore the US capitalists’ profits is through brutal competition against other imperialist rivals to drive down the wage base and expectations of social services in the United States. This is being done right now in conjunction with their attacks on workers wages, security and conditions in semi-colonies. The brutal attack by majority stockholder Warren Buffet on the Kraft food workers in Argentina last month is one of hundreds of such attacks on workers across the semi-colonies.
Any anti-capitalist mass movement must take as its starting point these objective conditions. Since the ruling class is in the middle of brutal attacks against workers and students, the only way to stop it is to use the powerful fist of the mass movement. In order to win we must have mass picket lines shutting down all the colleges, and the universities in the state until the demands are met. This shutdown must be enforced by massive picket lines that prevent anyone from crossing them. If necessary scabs and the thugs of the state must be dealt with by force of the mass pickets. The reformists do not want to take this road because they have no strategy for socialist revolution and have taken to themselves the job of perpetuating illusions in capitalism’s ability to be “tamed”. In turn they have become the tools of the bosses ideology in the movement serving capitalism by channeling the anger of the workers and students into the strategy that the capitalists gladly accept: toothless protests.
The big Betrayal on Oct. 24th
Saturday’s Mobilizing Conference to Save Public Education showed that the vanguard of the working class in California consists of working class youth and young workers who are ready to organize a general strike before the massive tuition hike in January. The young students and workers, many of them are Latinos and black, want to take up the militant traditions of class struggle in the Bay Area. But the reformists CRIMINALLY derailed the Conference to nowhere. Despite claiming, in the agenda, their intention to launch action which can “win” the conference closed without a winning strategy, without demands and with actions too far in the future to have an impact on the looming attacks we face..
The Conference was attended by between 700 and 1000 delegates from different state universities, colleges, as well as over 100 K-12 educators. Dozens of different unions’ members attended. The self appointed leadership (who call themselves facilitators) was composed primarily of an organization called LA VOZ de los trabajadores. It is a reformist organization that is centered in Latin America around the International Workers League, and it is known for its Spanish name the LIT. The LIT is responsible for many betrayals of the working class in Latin America (for an extensive expose see HWRS website www.humanistsforrevolutionarysocialism.org ).
As we explained in our flyer for the Oct. 24th Conference the LIT “creates and perpetuates illusions in capitalism’s ability to deliver by calling for an elected Board of Regents instead of fighting for student/worker/teaching faculty control of the university system. Their faith in reform is made apparent in a banner headline in their press, La VOZ de los Trabajadores, asking: ‘OBAMA ARE YOU LISTENING? WE’RE FIGHTING BACK!’ As if, this ‘bought and paid for,’ pretty boy of Wall Street, whose job it is to impose the cuts, will turn his back on big capital and put the interests of the working class”.
The LIT’s method of derailing the Conference was re-enforced and supported by other left organizations such as the reformist fake Trotskyists of Socialist Action (Usec), International Socialist Organization (ISO), Socialist Organizer and The Revolutionary Workers Group. We joined the militant youth in a battle against the reformists from the very beginning of the conference, our speaker called on the conference, to organize an indefinite extended general strike by the students, union workers and the oppressed based on a transitional program (a bridge between the present consciousness of the working class and the Socialist Revolution), to loud applause. The only political speech the LIT member gave was by a cadre, whose only politics was to say that the Conference’s purpose was to build . . .a big movement against the attacks. The rest of the LIT’s interventions were about logistics to destroy the democracy and derail the Conference.
This was not an accident. The reformists came prepared and the various fake socialists joined forces, to prevent ANY POLITICAL DISCUSSION in the Conference. They came prepared to prevent any discussion of the demands of the movement and they accomplished their task. They explained this shamelessly in Agenda itself: “The conference will not be voting on top demands or voting on the specific demands of the statewide action. Why? The process of collectively discussing and deciding on top demands is a very long process and there is simply not enough time at today’s conference to adequately and democratically do this.” (from the agenda of the conference).
So the self-appointed administrators of the conference, not elected by the conference participants, bureaucratically decided in advance that the conference will not come out with demands. It should go without saying that the agenda should have been decided upon by the students and workers at the conference. Only a democratic voted agenda can decide or not decide what are the tasks of the conference. It should not have been up to conference’s jailers (self-appointed administrators) to decide this in advance! This is not only a complete abuse and betrayal of workers democracy, but it even below the standard of corrupt formal bourgeois democracy. And secondly, how can the mass movement take any “actions” against the capitalists and their attacks without demands and a program to fight for? The only answer these reformists led by the LIT had was . . . in a later conference!
The LIT and their few supporters in the podium deliberately stopped all political discussions by giving each person one minute to speak, although their own agenda (that was never voted on by the people) suggested 2 minutes a person. Instead of a political discussion about demands and program these rascals stated that people should put their suggested demands in a . . .box to be dealt with later. The well known class traitor, sporting his AFL-CIO jacket, Alan Benjamin of the mis-named Socialist Organizer group became the enforcer for this policy by opposing a proposal in the K-12 workshop session to call on the conference to address demands in the afternoon session, Benjamin argued we must follow the conference agenda as if it was written in stone and even though it was never voted on by the conference participants.
The second part of the Conference was broken to smaller groups for “discussion” and suggested resolutions by each group. HWRS participated in two workshops. One of these workshop consists of a proletarian group of the community colleges (which are a two years colleges for working class youth working for associate degrees with hopes of moving to the state university but most likely find themselves on a trajectory to gain a trade skills or more likely end up unemployed), the other was a teacher K-12 workshop. There were two hundred plus strong working class youth in the community colleges workshop. And once again the LIT and Revolutionary Workers Group members appointed themselves as administrators. But against all their maneuvering HWRS put forward a resolution for an indefinite general strike to be prepared and coordinated in the universities, colleges, the unions and the oppressed communities. Despite the reformists efforts to stop it, it passed by a clear majority. Then a student’s resolution to start an indefinite general strikes in the universities starting March 4th also passed.
Yet, when the general assembly re-convened the LIT and their backer on the podium deliberately ignored the agenda and the democratically voted resolutions for a general strike. According to the agenda there was supposed to be “open discussion of proposals and voting” between 2:30 and 4:00.. But the self-appointed bureaucrats went straight to the vote without any discussions. When we objected, to the deliberately ignored and the democratically voted upon resolutions for a general strike, we created an up -roar in the hall. We received loud support particularly from Students from San Francisco state University and UC Santa Cruz who are clearly in the vanguard of the student movement. We raised objections to the reformist concept of having “actions” and “strikes” without a program or demands.
The LIT and their supporters answered that this could be dealt with in the . . . next Conference. The LIT (and their supporters on the podium) wickedly maneuvered, proposing to vote as one bloc dozens of proposals (in which one of them was about the general strike), thus totally diluting and preventing a vote on specific actions such as an extended general strike. Then they destroyed the whole purpose of the conference by proposing that each school will decide separately what actions . . .they (each school) want to do. Jeff Mackler of Socialist Action played a big role in this particular diversion. To add insult to injury the reformists passed a resolution for a “a day of actions and strikes on March 4th, with another general assembly sometimes in February”.
This was a massive betrayal because on January first the state will impose a significant hike in fees. Thus the “action” will take place two months after the fee hike, and many students will likely feel betrayed and demoralized. And in the middle of March there planned layoffs of faculty and staff (this was the reason for an indefinite strike in the universities starting March 4th that one of the students raised.). Obviously one day of protests two weeks before the layoffs is not a winning strategy despite the agenda promising to forge one.
Ten minutes before the end of general assembly (after most people already left) the reformists allowed a “discussion” on program, which was originally allocated one and half hour. In this miserable 10 minutes, each speaker was allowed only 30 seconds, and the laundry lists of demands was deferred to the conference in February. This was such a colossal betrayal of revolutionary politics and basic concepts of workers’ democracy that we can even say that it is a betrayal of . . . the LIT’s own reformist politics. They no longer practice the classic reformist concept that, “the movement is everything and the program is secondary.” Now the LIT’s politics is that the program is nothing, the movement is secondary, and the movement’s logistic is everything! Oct. 24th was an illustration that the bourgeoisie does not necessarily need Social Democracy and Stalinism to stop the mobilization of the masses. All the fake Trotskyists have lined up for the job formally done by the Stalinists and the Social Democrats and they are doing a fine job for the capitalists.
The fake Trotskyist left led by the LIT destroyed the conference’s potential to spark militant joint worker and student actions across the state and nation. They defused the potential to organize and launch an indefinite general strike in the universities and potentially in coordination with key unions in the heat of battle today. The Richmond teachers, the San Francisco Hotel workers, the furloughed state workers and the Palo Alto city employees; all have voted strike authorizations and are strike legal today, and would gain strength from an immediate and indefinite strike call coming out of the conference. But the conference lost the possibility of being the spark to unite these struggles.
Despite being sabotaged the potential to launch a winning fight is not lost. The Oct 24th conference illustrates that a mass movement is beginning to heat up in the US, and that there is a strong proletarian vanguard in the movement. We will do everything we can to energize and support this vanguard with revolutionary theory, actions and spirit. The students want an indefinite general strike before the tuition’s hike in January. We will work with the students from San Francisco State and other colleges who are working to organize an emergency conference to build for such a general strike. We know from history that when the working class and the oppressed in the US start fighting back they move very fast. We also know from history that a leadership and revolutionary program is critical for a successful upsurge. This is why our group the HWRS is joined in the middle of the fight with the rising vanguard of the youth, the students, workers and the oppressed.
Humanist Workers for Revolutionary Socialism, October 27, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Rico Workers’ Strike in India, Forces Canadian and US Auto Manufacturers to Down Their Shutters!
-Our Delhi Correspondent/ 26.10.2009
The workers strike at Manesar has resulted into severe crisis in auto manufacturing industry in US and Canada, where auto manufacturing giants like Ford and General Motors have been forced to shut down their plants due to shortage of transmission parts being supplied by the Rico Auto Industries, at Manesar, India.
While the shutdown of General Motors company in North America is on the anvil, the Ford has already declared a shut down of its plant at Oakville, Ontario, starting from tomorrow for a week.
The newspapers in Canada have reported that during week long shutdown, Ford alone would face a loss of production of more than five thousand cars. Ford produces the Edge SUV, the Flex, Lincoln MKX and Lincoln MKT seven-passenger vehicles at this plant. In case the workers’ strike at Rico Industries continues further, there is every likelihood that the shutdown would also continue at Ford. The company has already made declaration in this regard through its spokesman Todd Nissan.
The locked out employees get 65% of regular pay, which is paid conjointly by the Ford and employment insurance companies. The Oakville plant in Canada has been running two shifts, employing about more than 3,000 workers. The insurance companies of US and Canada, would thus be another casualty of the agitation of workers at Manesar.
The shut down at Ford has been forced at a time when Ford had recently announced that it would build a new lower-priced, small car for the Indian market called the Figo, with prospects of its export to other parts of Asia and Africa.
Production at auto plants in US and Canada was already forced to be slowed down since earlier this month, with the intensification of ‘slow down’ stir by workers in Rico Industries in Manesar, India.
The workers of Rico Industries had been demanding higher wages and better working conditions. However, the strife has worsened since last Sunday, when the employers in collusion with the local police and more than 1000 hired goons had attempted to break the agitation of workers through violence and fired upon the agitating workers, leaving one dead, four suffering bullet wounds and more than 65 workers badly injured on the spot. In retaliation to the violence workers resolved to reinforce their agitation, while workers from other factories came out in solidarity with agitating workers of Rico and an unprecedented demonstration accompanie dby general strike in the region, was held on October 20, this week, against the capitalist bosses and the government, in which, more than one lakh workers, duly armed with Lathis etc. had participated. (see the report: http://new-wave-nw.blogspot.com/2009/10/one-lakh-workers-go-on-flash-strike-to.html)
The corporate media has expressed its concern over the workers’ action and the militancy shown by it. Wall Street Journal has written that, “The strike has offered another glimpse into India's mercurial manufacturing sector. Labor unrest can erupt quickly in India, leaving companies with little time to negotiate with disgruntled employees or adjust to a strike. The labor troubles, especially in India's lucrative automobile industry, have prompted warnings from foreign companies that they might consider shifting operations from the country if strikes continue to hamper production”.
Seeing the devastating consequences of the workers’ stir, however, the management of Rico industries has started to relent. Surinder Chaudhary, vice-president for human resources at Rico Auto Industries, told that the company is continuing to take back the terminated workers, following weeks of work stoppages due to strikes. He told that on Friday, 900 workers showed up for shifts, and there was further expectation of 2,000 to return over the next few days.
The hopes of the company however, proved to be mis-founded after the conciliatory talks broke down today, as workers continued to press for unconditional acceptance of all their demands by the management. The company spokesman however, termed the strike by the workers as illegal, saying that no prior notice of the strike has been given by the workers to the employers.
By their experience, the workers have learnt that all legality is directed against them. The provisions of prior notice of strike envisaged in Industrial Laws are a device to alarm the employers to make arrangements in advance to subterfuge the action of workers. The flash strikes, slowdowns etc. defying all provisions of Industrial laws, hitting at most opportune moment, are proven the best ways to deal with employers.
Boasting of the employers that they would shift their establishment to some other location or country in face of offensive of workers, is devoid of genuine basis. After eruption of general crisis of world capitalism and simultaneous decline of Stalinism, the capitalists are facing widespread resistance from the working class. The intrusion of international capital in peripheral countries on an unprecedented scale, in search for more and more profits, has already made the backward countries a hotbed of militant labour struggles, while the advanced parts of the world are saturated and hardly permit such shifting in view of fast declining rate of profit in them.
The global integration of economy has placed immense power at the disposal of the working class. The workers in different countries are more and more emerging as a single international working class, having a global impact, character and unity of interests and above all an undivided class will and a single historic mission. Every individual workers’ struggle on the globe, demonstrates the fact that the time of capitalism is nearing with each skirmish. The day is not very far when it would find no place on the earth to ‘shift’ or even 'move'.
Reprinted from new wave blog
Monday, October 26, 2009
ONLY WORKERS’ ACTIONS CAN SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION!
For control of our public universities by faculty, staff, and students; abolish the Board of Regents!
For parent-teacher-staff control of public schools; down with school boards and state trustees!
Stop the Democratic Party/CTA drive to privatize through charter schools!
For mass actions by students, parents, teachers, and workers,
up to a prolonged general strike, to defeat all attacks on public education and public workers!
Richmond, California, located in the West Contra Costa Unified School District and sitting in the shadow of Chevron, is Ground Zero in the attack on public education. Chevron draws down $14 billion in annual profits and enjoys tax breaks via Proposition 13 and the corporate tax deals cut in Sacramento to pass the budget this year. All the while, schools are bulldozed; teachers and staff are fired; classes are overcrowded; and public education in California has become the laughing stock of the educated world. Youth in this district are more likely to go to prison or war than to get a good education and a decent job. Even now few can afford the University of California. Yet they plan to increase fees to over $10,000!
The swells and overstuffed suits on the Board of Regents, the school boards, the legislative and executive bodies (from the State Capitol to the White House), and their paymasters on Wall Street, led by JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Goldman Sachs etc., blather endlessly about their commitment to cutting costs. Meanwhile, their wealth and profits soar, in contrast to homeless encampments which bloom outside our cities. WHO WILL STAND UP TO THIS INJUSTICE? WHO WILL FIGHT FOR OUR KIDS EDUCATION?
Despite the clamor of the media pundits, who last week celebrated a jump in the Dow, the current crisis shows no let up for the working class, the unemployed, or our students. CEOs and public administrators see only one way to balance their books, via wholesale attacks on the living standards of working people. One in seven people internationally live in poverty. 40 million in the US join the 2 billion worldwide surviving in poverty, alongside a billion who live on less than $1.00 a day. We are now told to expect a jobless “recovery” while the economy shreds a quarter million jobs monthly, and the stock market skyrockets as profits return to the financial capitalists. The bailout is working – but only for Wall Street – and at our expense!
Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and their ilk have hoarded billions to pay obscene bonuses to their best thieves this Christmas. The treacherous leaders in the union bureaucracies, the union supported politicians, and the reformists posing as socialists only give cover to these accepting furloughs, lower wages, cuts in pensions, and increased health care costs, and to stand by as immigrants are scapegoated and deported. While Wall Street and the military receive billions of dollars from Washington, we are told: “Don’t fight back; you can’t win, because there is no money for education and social services.”
Most of all, we are told: “This is simply a crisis of the financial sector, caused by foolish people who let themselves get talked into mortgages they couldn’t afford.” They don’t want us to see the big picture. The truth is that the entire edifice of the capitalist economic system is rotten to the core. The present economic crisis is not a matter of bad mortgages transformed by Wall Street machinations into “toxic assets.” Rather, it is a classic crisis of overproduction, caused by inter-imperialist rivalry lowering workers’ standard of living in order to boost profits, until the workers can no longer afford to buy the goods they produce. This inherent structural weakness in capitalism means that for the bosses and their profits to survive, Wall Street needs you to take the hit – you, your kids, your grandkids, and your descendants ad infinitum!
Instead of explaining this truth, the fake socialists join the chorus of liberals and progressives who create the illusion that simply putting pressure on Obama will stop the cuts and save our education. One fake socialist group, the LIT-FI, creates and perpetuates illusions in capitalism’s ability to deliver by calling for an elected Board of Regents instead of fighting for student/worker/teaching faculty control of the university system.. Their faith in reform is made apparent in a banner headline in their press, La VOZ de los Trabajadores, asking: “OBAMA ARE YOU LISTENING? WE’RE FIGHTING BACK!” As if, this “bought and paid for,” pretty boy of Wall Street, whose job it is to impose the cuts, will turn his back on big capital and put the interests of the working class first.
What fake socialists, liberals, and progressives won’t say is that for us to win quality education, affordable health care, jobs for all, a clean environment, and an end to war, capitalism must die. We must replace this entire system – the economic foundation, the political structures, and the armed power of the state – with workers’ democratic self-management, all the way from the points of production and distribution to the highest levels of decision making and enforcement. What we need is a Workers’ Government run by workers’ power.
Rallies, teach-ins, forums, and one-day work stoppages alone will not end the attack on education. To win, we need prolonged general strike action across the state against the rule of the capitalists, in all the workplaces in both the public and private sectors, in the schools the universities and in the streets. We must fight for transitional demands that can break the grip of the capitalist media and world view on the masses of workers. Our program must include:
1) No layoffs, furloughs, or speed-ups; no fee increases or cuts in programs or classes in the schools or in higher education; no cuts in social services and benefits for the poor, seniors, children, or the disabled.
2) Abolish the Regents! No to fake democratization of the Regents through general election! Down with the drive to privatize public education! Only a university system democratically administered by teaching faculty, staff, students, and the working class community can provide education that serves the interest of the working class, not the corporate elite. FOR STUDENT, FACULTY, STAFF, AND WORKERS’ COMMUNITY CONTROL of the UC, Cal State, and Community College systems and all public schools! Down with the political appointees, elected officials, and state-imposed trustees who strangle our colleges and school districts!
3) FOR OPEN ADMISSIONS! FOR AN END TO FEES (NO TUITION)! STIPENDS BASED ON NEED! From pre-school to graduate school, provide free, high quality education and enough classes for everyone. The existing system is not designed to educate the working class. From grade school though university, it tracks students by socioeconomic class, separating the privileged from those destined for low paying dead end jobs, the military, or prison. In a socialist economy the highest education achievable by an individual would be valued and promoted. But in this era of capitalist decay, higher education and socioeconomic advancement are no longer valued by the denizens of Wall Street and their corporate shills on the UC Board of Regents. DOWN WITH ARNIE DUNCAN’S CHARTER SHOOL DRIVE!
4) JOBS FOR ALL! From an individual’s entry into the working world until retirement, everyone must be guaranteed the opportunity to perform meaningful creative work that serves humanity and pays enough to support a family. To end unemployment and the squeeze on workers’ wages, we demand a sliding scale of wages and working hours: 30 hours’ work for 40 hours’ pay! Share available work! Reclaim advances in productivity from the expropriators!
5) When banks and corporations plead poverty in the face of workers’ reasonable demands for jobs, fair pay, and full benefits, we must fight for the nationalization of failing enterprises under democratic workers’ control, without compensation to the stockholders!
6) ABOLISH CALIFORNIA’S INDUSTRIAL PRISON SYSTEM! The decline in spending on education since the passage of Proposition 13 is closely correlated with the rise of the prison population in California. Each prisoner is a consequence of this system’s failures in education and employment! The system is the crime; the prisoners are only the symptom. Abolish the capitalist system and the symptom will disappear. Prisoners cost $47,000 a year and incarcerated youth cost a quarter million dollars a year – while our public schools operate on $7,000 per student!
7) FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE from cradle to grave. The only thing preventing universal, free, high quality health care is the profit system, which extracts profit from every illness or death. For our families to have health care, the profit system must be driven out of medicine!
8) Stop the two-tier system of contracting out permanent positions.. Offer contract workers permanent union university employment, offer integration into CALPERS with credits for time served. Organize the unorganized!
9) Drive Military & CIA/NSA recruiters out of the universities! Down with all intellectual work that serves the exploitative and military ends of the imperialists. Down with Lawrence Livermore, home of US nuclear weapon research! Rather we need a university that teaches the critique of political economy and the theoretical contributions of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky—not the deceptive system of exploitation and wars! Education withers during imperialist war drives! Defeat US, NATO and Allies in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan!
10) For a fighting Workers’ Party. To achieve the above demands, workers and students must break with the Democratic and all capitalist parties (Greens, Republicans, American Independent, and Libertarian) and build a Workers’ Party based in the trade unions, alongside unorganized workers, the unemployed, and their allies in the communities of color and the LGBT community. Only a Fighting Workers’ Party committed to defeating capitalism by revolutionary means and founding a workers’ government can establish a rational socialist plan to win these demands.
HUMANIST WORKERS FOR REVOLUTIONARY SOCIALISM
Working with the FLTI to refound the Fourth International
October 2009 Labor Donated
Sunday, October 04, 2009
World capitalism is a system that is now more destructive than it is useful. Destruction has been to the lives of the labouring class, and to the productive land, building, machinery; destroying the forces of production. The financial crisis coming out of the USA banking sector and rippling out through their finance institutions around the world is one aspect of this. Banks use interest rate increases to squeeze (with a death grip) profit from loans to industrial capitalists and that layer of workers who have taken loans (mortgages). Industry passes the bill onto its labourers through every-which-way; restructuring, plant closures, layoffs and wages cuts.
The other feature of capitalisms destruction is causing direct damage to the means of production. The biggest example is through the state of war that the USA has been in. They have to have the record for the most invasions in world history: flying around dropping bombs and sending invading troops into numerous countries, the most recent Afghanistan and Honduras, not to mention their clandestine methods by the CIA. Dropping death and destruction: Labourers of the towns and cities lose their work when whole buildings (and machinery) are destroyed. Labourers of the countryside lose livestock, tools, crops, and land itself to the US bombing, since unexploded bombs ruin the land – unusable.
This crisis is world capitalism in its death agony, yet in its convulsions it tightens its grip on the labourers to squeeze profit from our lives. They are having the crisis and putting it all onto the working class to pay for it: It is the working class through our human labour that is productive, and is the source of all value. Capitalism is so destructive it is strangling & killing the working class.
Around the world capitalist governments defend the capitalists and attack workers. Many states have said they will protect workers money in the banks by guaranteeing funds against banks/finance companies failing. This is protection for the finance capitalist as a bailout, and the working class will pay for it since we produce the wealth. The governments are really protecting the financial capitalist, and they try to sustain the illusion / delusion that some workers have, that the system is alright.
The government guarantee of the banks is essentially a loan from the working class (through taxes) to keep the finance capitalists afloat. Those same Finance capitalists who are squeezing profits from the working people: from labourers as waged slaves, or ‘self employed’ / (contract slaves) paid on piece rates (per finished job) or in a small business model where the banker (finance capitalist) is behind it all their owner / landlord, since the finance capitalist claims an ownership right on their means of their production.
The USA and other state have also used working class resources to provide a welfare for the industrial capitalists The bailout of General Motors to rebuild the company and attack the working class is all state funded (see article in Class Struggle 84)
The State has controlled the working class by dividing us against each other. But they can no longer afford to pay the same premium that they used to the state forces police / army and private mercenaries. There are less crumbs from the capitalist table given as rewards to those workers who control the working class and defend the capitalists interests.
Crisis of Capitalism in NZ
The outright pro-capitalist government of NZ tries to scare the working class by talking up the problem of the economic crisis, at every chance, it is their standard excuse for attacking the working class. However they are still scared of waking up working class fight back. They have been using reports from “experts” or “committees” which they set up, to throw recommendations of cuts into the media and test public opinion; how much fight would that provoke from the working class. As usual in any round of attacks they attack the single mothers, on the domestic purposes benefit among the first (WINZ training allowance). l
The government is selling bullshit to the working class. In Health, they tell the “public” that frontline services will not be cut. But they are cutting by telling every health board to live within their budget and therefore forcing restructuring and rounds of costs cutting: cutting back room staff means the frontline have more work to do. The Minister of Health is demanding to know what services can be contracted out (at cheaper rates – less quality services for the working class).
Minister of Local government wants to cut social services too. Rodney Hide wants to define the core business of councils.
All these cuts are attacks on the social wages, which are paid as subsidise the whole of NZ capitalist class relations. Social wages partly maintain the myth that we are all equal – because we can all get into the same library: the same swimming pool (in south Auckland anyway), or wait for free in the same queue for a state house, hip replacement, heart bypass, blood test...
Industrial capitalists; Telecom was built by the working class and possession taken by private capitalists. Telecom has made less profit this year: Now they are setting about attacking the wages and conditions of the workforce. Telecom through a system of three sub-contracters for network engineers, are using Visionstream, Downer and Transfield to cut costs. The way they do this is to attack the wages and job security of its workforce by making them redundant, stealing their jobs.
Visionstream want workers to buy their jobs back vans and tools and they will be 100% dependent contractors. The lines engineers would take an income hit of 50%+, with no guarantee of work. Vision stream are effectively offering a contract like back under the employment contracts act – type of industrial relations, only worse, no guarantee of work.
The other contractors, Downer and Transfield attacked their workers too. Downer is trying to force its workers onto piece rates while Transfield just made 154 staff redundant. Telecom aims increase profit at the expense of its workforce and the upkeep or maintenance of our telecoms infrastructure. Telecom will take the most profit they can from the working class, while we will have to pay for installing a whole network in new technology of broadband for faster better internet.
The overall effect of the bosses’ attacks is to create a larger reserve of workers, waiting for work, needing to work to survive. Marx called this the reserve army of labour. Unlike the seagulls that used to be seen waiting for potential work on the ports – the modern reserve army (unemployed, under-employed, casual labourers and increasingly contractors) all wait at their phones in the morning to hear what work / if any – there is for them, on a day-to-day basis. And they will get called in to the WINZ office if capitalist state decides its time to put more pressure on about taking any job.
Engineers union (EU) has been forced into strike action by the telecom workers (now employed by subcontractors). But actually the EU leads workers to accept the next deal offered by the employers – like the Air NZ engineers the EU didn’t take strike industrial action to ground the airplanes and stop Air NZs profits from rolling in. The EU wouldn’t let them – because strikes would have been illegal, and the EU is tamed by a legal whip. That sort of industrial action would have needed the unity of all the unions involved in Air NZ and breaking the bosses law, which kept unions on the leash. The EU just used lawyers and accountants to look at the Air NZ books and come up with an offer that was sold out the working classes - wages, conditions and jobs. The employment laws have always been capitalisms tool to keep organised workers tamed – and they have been effective in NZs recent history.
Unions tied to the employment laws have the teeth taken out of any fight back. Union officials are threatened by capitalism with seizure of their property, etc. if they lead workers into breaking the Employment Relations Act (ERA). That was a Labour Governments gift to the working class: yeah right. Union officials lead organised workers away from fighting the system, into playing losing legal games with lawyers. Union officials become capitalism’s police on the working class.
Organised workers need to prepare to go “underground” and act outside the ERA: otherwise we cannot fight for our needs, rights, or defend our interests. Union organisers caught in the tension between what the workers want to fight for (and how), and the limits they are held under. All union organisers need to be paid at the same rates as the union members. Genuine workers democracy in the unions would push/pull the union officials and break through the limits of the ERA leash.
ZEAL deal is not the REAL deal
Anything less than the conditions of Air NZ short haul crews, is a cut in jobs and conditions as an occupation of flight workers. The short haul crew is the benchmark and should be seen as the minimum wage (& conditions) for any flight crew. Instead the EU tries to up sell the deal as a step in the right direction: “substantial improvements”. The EU call this a victory “a 3.95% pay increase” (less than the cost of living), a 6.7% increase after 12 months, (a minimal salary step for experienced crew), an “$1000 up-front payment” (sugar to help swallow a bitter defeat).
“A working group to look at hours of work and rostering will also be established”: All talk and no useful action is the outcome of the dispute going to their lawyers (EU and Bosses). I can imagine the EU saying, ‘this will have to do this time, but we will have another go at them in 15 months’.
We say union workers take control of our unions and take control of our industrial action: make strikes hit the capitalist in their profits - real pickets have to stop the capitalist collecting any profit. Ground the aircraft, block the access, road, phone, fax, and internet, stop their business from functioning – workers run the place, when we strike then we shut it all down. This is even easier to do on the inside – so have a strike on site – no work, but occupying the plant.
Fight capitalisms sliding scale of redundancies and cuts to wages and conditions. Share the work by reducing hours with no loss in pay: increase the minimum wages against bosses’ cuts. For a 30hrs week with no loss of pay and unite the employed and unemployed in the same unions. Workers keep reducing the working week until there are jobs for all.
For independence of the unions from the capitalist state! Beware the labour laws and the union officials that are bound by them, the union officials are made to work for the capitalist by the ERA law – not for the workers that they are supposed to represent and who pay them (through union dues). Build fighting funds (off the ‘legal’ union records). Prepare to pay a strike wage: and elect ordinary (rank and file) union members (or supporters) to run this.
Organise local picket line defence committees, with telephone / txt communications set up, so that we can defend each other against attacks from the bosses – at short notice. Prepare to defend workers against redundancy, against mortgagee sales, against lockouts and against having to reapply or contract for our jobs on lower wages or conditions. For working class communities to build self-defence pickets to support any workers struggling against the bosses’ recession: support the telecom workers at any pickets.
Fight redundancy with occupations and workers control!
Build revolutionary cells in the unions and across unions in local communities.
We need to link all of these struggles and to fight the system as whole.
For a national congress of the ordinary workers (rank and file) to fight or a workers programme to make the bosses’ pay for their crisis.
We say that programme needs to be workers control through socialist revolution.
Join us in building a revolutionary party whose one purpose is to end this system.
From Class Struggle 85 August-September 2009