MY MATE DAVE


Sideshow Bob Parker and his council supporters, including Councillor's Sue Wells and Barry Corbett, have approved a timetable for offering the hopeless Dave Henderson first refusal on the five central city sites he sold to the Christchurch City Council for an over-valued $17 million last year.

This is despite the fact that the so-called 'urban visionary' is in debt up to his neck and is in court again next week when yet another creditor will seek to wind up his company Property Ventures.

Henderson is hanging on by the skin of his teeth, yet Mayor Sideshow Bob and his merry band of council supporters - and city council CEO Tony Marryatt - are still bending over backwards to help the guy out.

This isn't something Hendo himself is inclined to do with his many angry creditors. Instead they are subject to the usual Hendo tactics of denying he owes anything, delaying tactics, blaming someone else, etc.

Henderson will have first right of refusal to buy back the sites at whichever is the highest price between market value or the price paid by the council, including any expenses incurred.

At least Councillors Chrissie Williams, Yani Johanson and Helen Broughton continue to fight the good fight on behalf of the good people of Christchurch.

Cr Helen Broughton says offering Henderson the buyback option was unpleasant.

"It is like swallowing a dead rat and I am finding it very hard to do," she told The Press.

She also pointed out that the council or, more specifically, the ratepayer could lose money on any sales because of the plunging property market.

Of course the big plus for us all is that Hendo doesn't actually have any money and the days when easy money was available from obliging finance companies has long gone

New Zealand's finance sector has pretty well collapsed and one of the few remaining finance companies - Hanover Finance - lent Hendo some $70 million for his ill-fated Five Mile Village project near Queenstown. Hanover's thousands of disgruntled investors would like to see some of that money back.

Tony Maryatt has admitted that if Hendo can't buy back the properties the council would have to sell them on the open market - but he has also said that they might give the hapless Hendo some more time to raise the cash! Maryatt must be in cloudcuckooland if he thinks there's anyone left in New Zealand who would be crazy enough to lend Henderson a few more million bucks.

Meanwhile Sideshow Bob, showing his usual contempt for the democratic process, has ignored calls from Councillors Chrissie Williams, Yani Johanson and Broughton that more public consultation was needed on the 'Master Plan' for the redevelopment of the inner city.

Apparently Sideshow Bob knows best. So there!

MORE FAILED NEOLIBERALISM


National may of not cut welfare benefits or the pension and it might not have touched Working For Families, but ordinary people are still paying the price for the economic crisis. The Budget comfirms that.

With business and factory closures now happening almost daily, the unemployment figures are rocketing and social services like food banks are trying to cope with an increasing and, at times, overwhelming demand for assistance.

In the face of something more than just a recession, National have got nothing to offer other but more discredited neoliberalism - with an added 'greenwash' courtesy of the insipid and conservative Green Party.

Bill Englsh's claim that it's all for the good of the country should be treated with the scorn that it deserves.

There might of not been any mention of cuts but they are there. National, like Labour, has not changed its neoliberal spots and measures like eliminating state sector waste suggest more job losses down the line and reduced services.

As the recession bites deeper and more and more people become reliant on public services, the government should be investing in these services rather than cutting them.

This Budget is just a continuation of the discredited neoliberal orthodoxy and what is so disheartening- but not surprising- is that none of the parliamentary parties are offering any alternatives to it.

It's like Parliament exists in some Twilight Zone where neoliberalism is still considered to be a credible economic ideology and where neoliberal zealots like Rodney Hide still get treated seriously.

Russel Norman waffled on in Parliament about an environmentally conscious and more efficient neoliberalism. In fact, Norman was more interested in crowing about the Green's having their home insulation package implemented.

Similarly Labour took potshots at the Budget but conspicuously offered no economic alternative. Nothing. Zilch. This is a politically bankrupt and gutless party that remains an obstacle in the way of developing a new progressive politics in this country.

Under Phil Goff, Labour shows absolutely no signs at all of breaking with neoliberalism. He had that opportunity today and didn't take it.

Being a bourgeois politician means, apparently, not having to admit you are wrong.

Of course the pro-Labour bloggers will bash this Budget for days but until they repudiate neoliberalism and begin to articulate real economic alternatives these bloggers are simply not being honest about their motives.

HENDO FACING MORE COURT ACTION


Embattled property developer Dave Henderson is facing more court action in the coming days.

Creditors are seeking to wind up his company Property Ventures.

In February Hays Specialist Recruitment (Australasia) Pty Limited filed an application to put Property Ventures into liquidation. That application will be heard next week on June 2.

Hays is a recruitment agency that provides both permanent and casual staff.

It would appear that Hays won't be the last either with several other creditors now pursuing Hendo through the courts. One creditor says he is owed $1.5 million by Property Ventures.

How long can the debt-ridden Hendo hold out?

LANE WALKER RUDKIN COLLAPSE: SIDESHOW BOB SIDESTEPS THE ISSUE


Mayor Sideshow Bob Parker hasn't had much to say about the loss of some 186 workers at Lane Walker Rudkin. In fact, a scan through his media releases reveal not much at all from the Christchurch Mayor.

Having earlier described the collapse of LWR as a 'tragedy', Sideshow Bob has kept the issue at arms length.

Given that LWR has, historically, employed a lot of local people Parker's silence could be considered surprising.

Well, not really.

Despite efforts by politicians and unionists alike to portray LWR's downfall as a result of a marital bust-up, the reality is that LWR has simply not been able to compete with the cheap clothing being imported from China.

Parker though was an enthusiastic supporter of the signing of the Free Trade Agreement with China and waxed lyrically about the economic benefits that would be reaped by the Canterbury economy.

Obviously the collapse of LWR has kind of put a fly in Sideshow Bob's ointment.

It should also be pointed that Parker's pro-Labour councillors have kept their mouths shut too.

REPEATING THE SAME OLD MISTAKES


I was going through a few old books the other day and I came across a little number called Alternatives: Socialist Essays for the 1980's, first published in 1986.

It's co-edited by old Mr Third Way himself, Steve Maharey. He is, of course, now Vice-Chancellor at Massey University.

The former Labour minister pens a few thoughts of his own and they make for interesting reading over twenty years later.

Maharey argues that socialists should orientate themselves to parliamentary politics and, not surprisingly, support the Labour Party. Says Maharey:'...socialists will need to work within mass institutions like the Labour Party.'

This is, apparently, what Steve was doing. Who would have guessed?

But here's the real gem. According to Maharey ',..it is possible for the Labour Party to be socialist and to be in government.'

The massive decline in Labour Pray membership since then totally refutes Maharey's first claim and some nine years of Maharey's version of 'socialist government' clearly exposes the absurdity of his second claim.

Unfortunately there are still people today peddling the same discredited ideas. Step up Chris Trotter, The Standard bloggers, etc.

It seems that this lot have learnt nothing at all from recent history.

They are intent on repeating the same old mistakes.

KAWARAU FALLS: ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST


The crisis of global capitalism has hit New Zealand's largest construction project with an almighty bang.

The $1 billion Kawarau Falls Station development at Frankton, near Queenstown, has been put into a receivership and the 600 or so workers employed by the project will soon to be out of work. The corporate media calls this 'workers facing an uncertain future'.

And, of course, an almighty eye sore of aging concrete and metal will blight the landscape for years to come.

The project was largely funded by the Bank of Scotland which has a first mortgage on the failed project of some $513 million.

The Bank of Scotland was taken over by Lloyds Banking Group in 2008.

But it has been rocked by the global economic meltdown and the Bank of Scotland's loss in 2008 was almost 11 million pounds (approximately $29 billion).

The British Government, in an effort to shore up Lloyds, bought a 43 percent in it.

Earlier this year the British government agreed to insure £260 billion of the banks toxic loans as well as possibly raising their stake in the bank to 65%.

The chairman of the bank has resigned.

But now the crisis has hit these shores with the Bank of Scotland pulling the plug on Kawarau Falls.

Hanover Finance, the same outfit that gave the hapless Dave Henderson some $70 million for his failed village project near Queenstown, also poured some $150 million into Kawarau Falls.

Investors in Hanover won't see any of that money again.

Hanover co owner Eric Watson recently celebrated his 50th birthday with a lavish party in Istanbul. The party was held over two nights.

It followed the equally lavish birthday bash of his Hanover co-owner Mark Hotchin, who held an exclusive party on Fiji’s up-market Vomo Island.

Hanover investors may well now be seriously rueing allowing Watson and Hotchin to attempt to trade Hanover out of the financial black hole it has fallen into.



HAVE A LAMINGTON!


John Bowscawen's Simple Lamington Recipe
3 eggs
1/2 cup castor sugar
3/4 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup cornflour
15g (1/2oz) butter
3 tablespoons hot water

Beat eggs until thick and creamy. Gradually add sugar. Continue beating until sugar completely dissolved.
Fold in sifted SR flour and cornflour, then combined water and butter.

Pour mixture into prepared lamington tins 18cm x 28cm (7in x 11in).
Bake in moderate oven approximately 30 mins.
Let cake stand in pan for 5 min before turning out onto wire rack.

HENDO AND 'THE MASTER PLAN'


Last week the Christchurch City Council released a 'Master Plan' which outlines the council's proposals for the south side of central Christchurch.

According to the council's press release,'the vision is to redevelop the central city south with a mix of residential and commercial uses and an expanded lanes network.'

This will sound familiar to people who have been following the adventures of failed property developer Dave Henderson. He's been banging on about a 'residential and commercial mix' for years but all the Hendo vision has created is yet another site for drunken mayhem on Friday and Saturday nights - South of Lichfield (SOL). And, like most of Hendo's schemes, its also got its financial problems.

I also understand that former Mayor Garry Moore - and another Henderson supporter - has also had an imput into the 'Master Plan'.

In 2007 Henderson funded the election campaign of Johnny Moore, the former mayor's son. Johnny Moore stood for the Hagley-Ferrymead Community Board but he wasn't elected.

And if you read on in the press release you will discover that the 'Master Plan', which encompasses SOL, has been developed with architects, engineers and...property developers. No prizes for guessing who one of those 'property developers' might be. Clue: He's a good mate of the Minister for Local Government.

Of significance is that the plans include proposals to develop the five properties bought from Hendo last year for $17 million.

Hendo has first refusal to buy them back.

Of course, this might never happen given the financially 'fragile' state of the Hendo 'Empire'.

But you can bet that the struggling Henderson will be looking to get some financial leverage from the council's plans.

NEW BLACKBALL BLOG

Sandra from the great Letters From Wetville blog sent me an email regarding a new blog she has set up. Actually, she sent it to me around ten days ago but I've been slack checking my email. I've never been a great letter writer and I seem to have bad habits with email as well.

But I digress.

Sandra has worked up a new blog for the the Blackball Working Class Community Project.

Sandra says that 'a key aim of the blog is to create a community beyond the physical space of Blackball and we'd like to reach as many workers and thinkers as possible.'

She says that the blog invites people to engage with 'our stories here in Blackball.'

Sandra writes on the blog:

Here on this blog, we want to present both stories from now and from our archives. We've got a wealth of oral histories and plan to share some of them here. We're all pretty opinionated and are aware that the gains of our forbears in Blackball, in the union movement, in working people's lives, involved courage, struggle and speaking out. Hopefully this blog is a space for people to speak out, to make connections between our present and our past. A place to forge bonds which help make the Blackball experience more meaningful for those of you who physically visit us and for those of you who connect across the internet from further away.

You can check out the blog at lifeofworkingpeople.blogspot.com

RADIO GA GA


I used to occasionally listen to Radio Live's Sunday morning show with Andrew Patterson and Finlay MacDonald.

It was a little too comfortably liberal for my tastes but it was a generally intelligent and erudite magazine show. This made it somewhat of an exception in the dumbed-down world of the New Zealand corporate media.

It was an attempt to treat people as intelligent adults rather than moronic consumers, which is mostly the case with commercial radio.

I say I used to listen to it because Patterson and MacDonald hosted their show for the final time today.

After some three years the show has got the axe - and Patterson and MacDonald, although guarded in their comments, made it clear they weren't happy about it.

And what is replacing this show? Yet another sports show. Yes, its more of the great media 'dumb down'.

It may have also been the victim of the corporate media's financial woes.

Radio Live is part of the Mediaworks radio network and Mediaworks is strapped for cash.

Mediaworks, which also owns TV3 and C4, last month reported an operating loss of $40.7 million for the year ended August 2008. And in the current economic climate, its financial position could have only got worse.

The Australian private equity investor Ironbridge Capital owns Mediaworks. Ironbridge completed its purchase of the company in October 2007, paying $741m.

As I said last year:

A new and worrying development has emerged within the New Zealand media this year and that has been the purchase of an increasing number of media companies by private equity firms. These companies have no interest in the media in itself - all they want is the best return possible on their money, more bangs for their buck. They could of equally have invested in a company making baked beans.

And I also commented:

Typically equity investment firms like Ironbridge invest in a company for no more than five years.

The problem for media companies is that corporate raiders like Ironbridge want to quickly secure short term profits so that the value of the company, in the financial books at least, is significantly increased. They then can sell the company for a big profit.


With Mediaworks reporting big losses Ironbridge may well be demanding the scaling back of operations deemed to be too expensive and 'unprofitable'.

This would also mean the axing of shows that don't pull in high enough ratings to be replaced by more dumbed down shows, geared to meet the demands of ratings and of advertisers.

Hence the axing of Radio Live's Sunday morning show.

Gotta maximise those desperately needed advertising dollars..

NDU FAILS SACKED WORKERS


The National Distribution Union's cake stall for the 186 Lane Walker Rudkin workers who have lost their jobs raised some $1300 - which comes out at about $7.00 per worker. This isn't even enough to buy Prime Minister John Key's famous 'block of cheese'.

This money, says the NDU, is going into a 'fighting fund' for LWR workers.

Unfortunately the NDU officlals aren't actually doing much fighting themselves. Indeed the NDU has just about capitulated. This is a 'fight' that certainly won't go the distance.

Faced with a deepening economic crisis, unions like the NDU are stuck in a quagmire of their own making. The years of playing footsty with the Labour Government have taken their toll - the union bureaucracy simply don't know how to fight. And, having embraced neoliberalism, they can't even offer an economic alternative.

What has Laila Harré, National Secretary of the National Distribution Union, got to offer former LWR workers?

She's 'hoping' for the government to come through with funds for a resource centre to help workers search for new jobs.

Isn't that what Work and Income is supposed to be there for? And, given the fact that unemployment is rocketing up, what new jobs is Harre talking about? Or is just making some noise to give the impression that the NDU is actually doing something?

And it gets worse.

She's calling for Westpac and the government to pay the redundancy and holiday pay owing the sacked workers. Harre is in cloudcuckooland if she really thinks this is going to happen.

As the Alliance Party and others have said the obvious solution is to put LWR into public ownership.

But the feeble NDU, despite having just finished a two day conference to discuss the crisis in the manufacturing sector, hasn't even raised this as possibility. What is the NDU scared of?

THE CURE FOR LAYOFFS: FIRE THE BOSS!


With the National Distribution Union failing to adequately respond to the closure of Lane Walker Rudkin, its worth taking a look at what's happening overseas. This article is by Naomi Klein and Avi Levin and was first published by Common Dreams. org on May 14

In 2004, we made a documentary called The Take about Argentina's movement of worker-run businesses. In the wake of the country's dramatic economic collapse in 2001, thousands of workers walked into their shuttered factories and put them back into production as worker cooperatives. Abandoned by bosses and politicians, they regained unpaid wages and severance while re-claiming their jobs in the process.

As we toured Europe and North America with the film, every Q&A ended up with the question, "that's all very well in Argentina, but could that ever happen here?"

Well, with the world economy now looking remarkably like Argentina's in 2001 (and for many of the same reasons) there is a new wave of direct action among workers in rich countries. Co-ops are once again emerging as a practical alternative to more lay-offs. Workers in the U.S. and Europe are beginning to ask the same questions as their Latin American counterparts: Why do we have to get fired? Why can't we fire the boss? Why is the bank allowed to drive our company under while getting billions of dollars of our money?

Tomorrow night (May 15) at Cooper Union in New York City, we're taking part in a panel that looks at this phenomenon, called 'Fire the Boss: The Worker Control Solution from Buenos Aires to Chicago'.

We'll be joined by people from the movement in Argentina as well as workers from the famous Republic Windows and Doors struggle in Chicago.

It's a great way to hear directly from those who are trying to rebuild the economy from the ground up, and who need meaningful support from the public, as well as policy makers at all levels of government. For those who can't make it out to Cooper Union, here's a quick round up of recent developments in the world of worker control.

Argentina
In Argentina, the direct inspiration for many current worker actions, there have been more takeovers in the last 4 months than the previous 4 years.

One example:

- Arrufat, a chocolate maker with a 50 year history, was abruptly closed late last year. 30 employees occupied the plant, and despite a huge utility debt left by the former owners, have been producing chocolates by the light of day, using generators.

With a loan of less than $5,000 from the The Working World, a capital fund/NGO started by a fan of The Take, they were able to produce 17,000 Easter eggs for their biggest weekend of the year. They made a profit of $75,000, taking home $1,000 each and saving the rest for future production.

UK
- Visteon is an auto parts manufacturer that was spun off from Ford in 2000. Hundreds of workers were given 6 minutes notice that their workplaces were closing. 200 workers in Belfast staged a sit-in on the roof of their factory, another 200 in Enfield followed suit the next day.

Over the next few weeks, Visteon increased the severance package to up to 10 times their initial offer, but the company is refusing to put the money in the workers' bank accounts until they leave the plants, and they are refusing to leave until they see the money.
Why do we have to get fired? Why can't we fire the boss? Why is the bank allowed to drive our company under while getting billions of dollars of our money?

Ireland
- A factory where workers make legendary Waterford Crystal was occupied for 7 weeks earlier this year when parent company Waterford Wedgewood went into receivership after being taken over by a US private equity firm.

The US company has now put 10 million Euros in a severance fund, and negotiations are ongoing to keep some of the jobs.

Canada
As the Big Three automakers collapse, there have been 4 occupations by Canadian Auto Workers so far this year. In each case, factories were closing and workers were not getting compensation that was owed to them. They occupied the factories to stop the machines from being removed, using that as leverage to force the companies back to the table - precisely the same dynamic that worker takeovers in Argentina have followed.

France
In France, there's been a new wave of "Bossnappings" this year, in which angry employees have detained their bosses in factories that are facing closure. Companies targeted so far include Caterpillar, 3M, Sony, and Hewlett Packard.

The 3M executive was brought a meal of moules et frites during his overnight ordeal.

A comedy hit in France this spring was a movie called Louise-Michel, in which a group of women workers hires a hitman to kill their boss after he shuts down their factory with no warning.

A French union official said in March, "those who sow misery reap fury. The violence is done by those who cut jobs, not by those who try to defend them."

And this week, 1,000 Steelworkers disrupted the annual shareholders meeting of ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel company. They stormed the company's headquarters in Luxembourg, smashing gates, breaking windows, and fighting with police.

Poland

Also this week, in Southern Poland, at the largest coal coking producer in Europe, thousands of workers bricked up the entrance to the company's headquarters, protesting wage cuts.

US
And then there's the famous Republic Windows and Doors story: 260 workers occupied their plant for 6 world-shaking days in Chicago last December. With a savvy campaign against the company's biggest creditor, Bank of America ("You got bailed out, we got sold out!") and massive international solidarity, they won the severance they were owed. And more - the plant is re-opening under new ownership, making energy-efficient windows with all the workers hired back at their old wages.

And this week, Chicago is making it a trend. Hartmarx is 122-year old company that makes business suits, including the navy blue number that Barack Obama wore on election night, and his inaugural tuxedo and topcoat.

The business is in bankruptcy. Its biggest creditor is Wells Fargo, recipient of 25 billion public dollars in bailout money. While there are 2 offers on the table to buy the company and keep it operating, Wells Fargo wants to liquidate it. On Monday, 650 workers voted to occupy their Chicago factory if the bank goes ahead with liquidation.


Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist and the author of the international and New York Times bestseller The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, now out in paperback. Her earlier books include the international best-seller, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies; and the collection Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate (2002).

Avi Lewis Avi is a filmmaker, journalist, and the host of Fault Lines on Al Jazeera English.

COLIN KAY GETS AWAY WITH IT - AGAIN


Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries officials were never going to find anything wrong with Colin Kay's barbaric piggery because the Animal Welfare Code, as it pertains to pigs, allows Kay and other pig farmers like him to get away with it.

Despite the fact that the Animal Welfare Code says that pigs must be allowed to 'express normal patterns of behaviour', Kay's convenient 'get out of jail free' card is the clause that allows 'special exemptions' if changing the living conditions of pigs will threaten the financial viability of the business.

In that sense Colin Kay is right when he says he is complying 'one hundred per cent with the welfare code.'

Kay's farm was also investigated three years ago, and cleared of any wrong-doing.

The Animal Welfare Act makes it an offence for anyone in charge of an animal to neglect its “physical, health or behavioural needs” or to withhold treatment for a sick animal. Neglecting the health of your cat or dog, even unintentionally, can land you in court. But Kay avoids the provisions of the act as well because it does not apply to animals reared commercially if a so-called 'welfare code' is in place.

Over the years the Pork Industry Board has consistently opposed any significant changes to the code that they wrote themselves.

They often argue changes will effect the financial viability of the industry.

This is nonsense. More than 50% of New Zealand pork producers maintain a viable business in spite of not using sow stalls.

Although the Animal Welfare Act is due to be reviewed later this year, the Minister of Agriculture David Carter is not likely to be a minister who will oppose the pig industry's viewpoint.

He will be guided by NAWAC which is not known for its sympathy to the views of animal welfare groups. Indeed it has often been criticised for being under the sway of the powerful animal industry lobby.

COLIN KAY: PIG FARMERS MUST BE 'ANIMAL LOVERS'


The owner of the Levin pig farm under scrutiny for the poor treatment of its animals is Colin Kay.

Kay is a former director of the New Zealand Pork Industry Board. He has been involved in the pig industry for some 29 years.

He presently has some 900 breeding sows on the four farms he owns or co-owns. The farms are worth an estimated $4 million.

In February this year he told the New Zealand Farmers Weekly that 'pigs aren't everyone's cup of tea' and that to work with them 'takes special people who must first and foremost love animals'.

"It takes about a month to sort out whether someone is cut out for it or not and invariably it emerges they are animal lovers, " said Kay.

Kay is no rogue farmer.- there are nearly 22,000 breeding sows living in the same horrific conditions throughtout the country.

DAVID CARTER IS PLAYING POLITICAL GAMES


Agriculture Minister David Carter is playing political games when he says he that he wants to see if the intensive pig farming operation exposed by comedian Mike King is in breach of the Animal Welfare Act.

This farm is not just an aberration - the barbaric conditions exposed by King are the industry norm.

The New Zealand pig industry consistently focuses on profits and the increased exploitation of pigs rather than trying to resolve the serious welfare issues confronting the industry.

The use of dry sow stalls and farrowing crates and concrete pens for fattening pigs makes the pig industry one of the worst and cruellest offenders against animals.

Approximately thirty percent of New Zealand pig farmers use dry sow stalls which translates into confinement for 45 per cent of sows (21,000 animals).

The dry sow stall is a small metal-barred crate that is widely used on factory farms. The stall is so narrow the pregnant sow cannot turn around, let alone exercise. A sow stall is 60 centimetres wide and two metres long — just a fraction bigger than the sow herself. She will be confined in the sow stall for all or part of her 16-week pregnancy.

At the end of her pregnancy the sow is placed in a farrowing crate where she will give birth. As in the sow stall she can only stand up and lie down. With no straw for bedding, she scrapes her nose over the bare concrete floor in an attempt to build a nest for her piglets.

Sow stalls are banned in the United Kingdom and Sweden and will be soon phased out in Finland, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Denmark.

Sweden and Switzerland have banned the farrowing crate.

The Animal Welfare Code for pigs has been place since 2005 and absolutely nothing has changed for the animals.

The code was signed off by Labour's Jim Sutton, a minister who consistently came down on the side of the NZ Pork Board. His successor, Jim Anderton, was no better.

The so-called 'welfare code' was actually written by the Pork Industry Board and effectively rubberstamped by the National Animal Advisory Committee (NAWAC).

Submissions from over 70,000 New Zealanders calling for the better treatment of pigs were ignored by the Pork Industry Board and NAWAC.

The Animal Welfare Code stipulates that animals must be allowed to express normal patterns of behaviour. But this means nothing because the code allows 'exemptions' to this requirement if, for example, keeping to the requirements of the Act will cause the collapse of an industry.

Organisations like Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE) have long been campaigning to get this farcical welfare code overturned.

THE NDU'S HOPELESS RESPONSE TO MASS REDUNDANCIES AT LWR - A CAKE STALL


In Europe and elsewhere workers are occupying factories threatened with closure.

Here in New Zealand, the National Distribution Union's (NDU) response to the mass redundancies at Lane Walker Rudkin -and there are more to come - is to have a cake stall.

The NDU is holding a cake stall outside Westpac's head office in Wellington between 12-1pm today and, apparently, more will be held around the country.

This is a token and hopeless response from the NDU. While NDU officials like Laila Harre and Paul Watson have made a lot of noise in the media, their bark has been definitely worse than their bite.

Why is the NDU not calling for the public ownership of LWR? Or is this just too hard for the NDU officials?

Of course the National Government will take no heed, but the NDU should be presenting, at least, credible economic alternatives to factory closures.

Not surprisingly the limp pro-Labour blog The Standard thinks having a cake stall is a 'great idea'.

What next? A lemonade stall?

THE TRAIN WRECK CALLED ECONOMIC LIBERALISM


Some neoliberal commentators claim the global economic meltdown is just a blip on the radar. It's just more ideological delusion from The Cult of Positivity, says James Ayers.

Free market, neoliberal, economic commentators would have us believe that 'there's light at the end of the tunnel', that the current global economic meltdown won't last and we will soon to be enjoying the prosperity that economic globalisation has long promised.

Yeah right!

Economic globalisation was only ever going to bring prosperity to a few, mainly in the West, and the current recession is actually going to get worse. MUCH WORSE!

There sure is light at the end of the tunnel the global economy is heading down. It's a crash and burn train wreck called economic liberalism, better known as western capitalism. Sure, we haven't quite got there yet, but the wheels of capitalism are falling off faster than they can be replaced by the politicians and their financial masters. By replace, I mean of course, PRINT MORE MONEY!

But let us be clear why the world has gone so far down the dead end tunnel called the global free market. It is simply a strategy by the rich to allow transnational corporations (owned by the rich) to exploit and enslave the rest of us. It allows these corporations to move capital to wherever labour is the cheapest, environmental laws the laxest, public subsidies the most generous and taxes the lowest.

This is a race to the bottom for the vast bilk of the human race.

However the fee market economic blueprint for the world was never going to work - it was always fundamentally flawed.

Firstly take the self-regulation myth, like that followed by the financial markets. Self-regulation is to regulation, like self-importance is to importance, they just aren't the same. Like asking a fox to guard over the hen house, did we really expect the high priests of finance not to become drunk on their alchemy and seduced by casino money markets they played in?

Secondly the free market sets a global competitive field measured only by money, and therefore the rich win everytime. The rich minority gets richer, the poorer majority gets poorer. Eventually as we are currently witnessing, the poor stop buying the products of the rich and the global economy starts to crash.

Thirdly, contrary to economic theory, the free market creates some absurd inefficiencies. Nearly half of all international trade is the simultaneous import and export of essentially the same goods. For example many countries both import and export biscuits. Surely it would be more efficient to exchange recipes!

And, of course, for the last generation or two the global economy has only grown through the privatisation of publicly owned or gift areas of the economy (ie childcare, cooking, music, health, education, etc) as well as an consumption orgy funded by an exponentially growing mountain of debt.

Yet, despite the obvious failure of the fee market or western capitalism, it seems the only prescription being put forward in the halls of power fro this debt addiction, is MORE DEBT! The politicians are desperate to avoid a cold-turkey solution, paranoid about redesigning the system. the only solution for our current woe, is a redesign, to bring the money creation process under government control - currently it is controlled by the privately-owned banks.

So, apart from the above, why do I think the recession is going to get worse, here and globally?

Firstly the banks are about to suffer a new wave of losses, from credit cards and commercial property, on top of their ongoing residential mortgage loses and the black hole of financial derivatives. The global banks are already broke, and the Aussie owned ones here will soon follow.

Secondly, consumer spending is going to contract further. People are staring to realise they can't keep buying things they don't need with money they don't have. Their priorities now are going to pay off debt and start saving. Manufacturers and retailers are going to start falling like flies. This combined with public sector belt tightening, means unemployment will rise substantially, which results in even further reductions in spending, another black hole.

Any economic recovery will be slim and short-lived, the current actions of political leaders will ensure that. Trillion dollar bailouts and stimuli, absurdly low interest rates, lowering taxes and accounting standards will allow the illusion to continue for a while. God help us after that!

James Ayers is the Corporate Nemesis. Hear him on Plains FM 96.9, Christchurch, Tuesdays 11am or check out his podcasts on the Plains FM website.

THE GREEN'S 'SAME OLD DEAL'



Echoing US President Barack Obama's so-called 'New Deal', the Green Party have called for a 'Green New Deal'.

But rather than being a 'New Deal', this is just the 'Same old Deal' with a few add-ons. It does not provide an alternative economic direction and it confirms - yet again - that the Green's 'radicalism' is all style and no substance.

The Green's have not rejected neoliberalism but are rather calling for some 'Keynesian lite' policies to tide the 'free market'over a 'rough patch'.

It includes a call for investment in home insulation, public transport and the building of some 6000 state houses. And it support's John Key's cycleway project.

According to Jeanette Fitzmaurice these policies will create a 'stronger' market economy. Given that the 'market economy' has completely failed, Fitzmaurice's comments have no credibility whatsoever.

Despite focusing on 'environmental problems' the Green Party approach implicitly accepts that only market mechanisms can solve these problems - what co-leader Russel Norman refers to as 'the power of the market'.

The Green Party, as its 'New Deal' clearly shows, may want to tinker with the market, but the basic neoliberal paradign remains unchanged.

Like their German counterpart, the Green's have become just another pro-capitalist party.

186 JOBS GONE AT LANE WALKER RUDKIN


The first wave of redundancies have been announced at Lane Walker Rudkin.

The Pahiatua and Greytown factories have been closed entirely with a total loss of 80 jobs.

At the Christchurch factory 102 job losses have been announced and, although no-one is saying, more job losses can be expected.

Another 60 jobs will also likely go with the closure of LWR's Brisbane factory.

Laila Harré, Secretary of the National Distribution Union (NDU) reserved some of her harshest criticism for Westpac who put LWR into receivership.

“Workers have been thrown out of work with no notice, and no money,” saaid Harre this morning.

“We understand that wages for the week just worked may be put in workers’bank accounts on Tuesday next week, but there is no guarantee they will see any of the holiday or redundancy pay that is capped by the Receivership laws at $16,420.

“This is a dreadful situation and the workers and their union are very angry. How the bank allowed LWR to continue to trade and build up so much debt for so long is beyond belief. Yet today, that same bank, Westpac, washes its hands of its responsibility to the workers and refuses to even meet with the NDU and Council of Trade Unions to discuss the situation.'

Harre also criticised the National-led Government for ignoring the plight of LWR workers.

'The Government must also respond more effectively. John Key has said he wants to save iconic firms, and reminisced about his first job at LWR. But he has completely dropped the ball on requests made to him from by the Mayoral emergency meeting on the LWR receivership last week. Since the crisis at LWR emerged last week we have made repeated requests for Government support so redundant workers can run their own support service. Yet despite Government promises to ‘take the hard edge of the recession’ and to support communities trying to do things for themselves it’s looking like the workers will have to run cake stalls to set up their own support service.'

CHRIS TROTTER'S COUNSEL OF DESPAIR


A week or so ago Chris Trotter accused me of having a problem.

The specific political problem he is accusing me of is that I have to work at maintaining the 'illusion' of the New Zealand working class as 'a class for itself'.

I kind of shrugged my shoulders at this. It's the kind of tired anti-socialist argument I have come to expect from someone living in the rubble of the discredited Labour Party.

Trotter says that, in my desperate attempt to maintain my working class 'illusions' I have to:

....depict Kiwi workers as both ideologically conscious: able to distinguish their friends from their enemies; and politically conscious: capable of formulating coherent strategic and tactical responses to the daily ebb and flow of domestic and international events.

Trotter himself thinks that class consciousness has declined to such a degree that the overwhelming majority of working class people have no consciousness of themselves as part of a class that has its own interests other than those of the ruling class.

In other words, while people like me might be interested in radical change, the New Zealand working class isn't.

So, we in the socialist left are simply deluded - as opposed to Chris who is eminently sensible in supporting the neoliberal Labour Party.

Of course Chris Trotter is coming close to dismissing the working class as an objective social class. How else can you explain his argument that the major economic and social upheavals of the past two decades have 'atomised' working class communities? Can you point me in the direction of an 'atomised' working class community, Chris? Careful now - you'll end up doing a 'Melissa Lee' if you don't watch out.

In the meantime though Chris has varied 'explanations' for the so-called 'passivity' of the New Zealand working class.

His big argument is that the working class is lost in some ideological fog - that is has been overwhelmed by neoliberal hegemony.

His evidence for this claim is New Zealand television! He writes:

The cultural devastation wreaked upon New Zealand’s media is best illustrated by comparing two local television dramas set in the working-class: Moynihan and Outrageous Fortune. The former was centred on the activities of a trade union secretary, played by Ian Mune, and pitted the hero’s moral and professional resources against those of his members, their employers, and the State. Outrageous Fortune features a West Auckland family, the Wests, who rely for their survival not upon the protective institutions of the working class, but upon the criminal ingenuity of the family’s individual members. Moynihan ran from 1976 to 1977. Outrageous Fortune is the most successful locally-produced drama of the early- 2000s. It is hard to imagine a better illustration of what 25 years of neo-liberal hegemony has done to the New Zealand working-class’s perceptions of itself.

Chris should get out more and I don't mean just a quick jaunt to the TV3 studios to swap polite conversation with the likes of David Farrar.

There are struggles happening right now. Here in my hometown I know that Lane Walker Rudkin workers have been meeting unofficially to discuss what is happening with their factory.

In Auckland on May 12 cleaning staff from Auckland's CBD are holding a rally to highlight their low pay and the lack of respect they recieve from employers.

As I have said before Trotter's arguments are indeed the counsel of despair. Despite his liking for quoting from various socialist texts, all Chris has to offer is a tired old political party that is actually scared of its social democratic past.

I suspect that if Chris Trotter had been a contemporary of Karl Marx he would of been penning articles attacking Marx's 'delusions' about the revolutionary potential of the working class.


What escapes Trotter is that the class struggle happens regardless. Workers will strike, picket, etc not because they believe in the class struggle or they have suddenly been convinced by the socialist argument, but because the unjust economic system forces them to.

In this respect, socialism is the spectre that continues to haunt capitalism.

Of course its unrealistic to expect workers to fight every time. In many situations, they will concede to the employer or the government despite knowing only too well that they are being screwed. They may think that no-one will support them if they fight. Their union leaders may tell them that there is no point fighting and subsequently sell them out.

But workers will fight - and often when we least expect it.

Workers' ideas are the product of two factors: the brainwashing they receive from birth by teachers, parents, religious and political leaders and the media; and more importantly, their own daily circumstances.

But when workers are driven to fight, they begin to see that they do have power. Important political lessons are learned.

But alongside this we need to begin the rebuilding of new working class political organisations and I think we are seeing the beginnings of such a rebuilding of working class politics in this country - one in which the discredited and politically bankrupt Labour Party has no role to play,

Sometimes its worth going back to the old man himself. What did Karl have to say?

Marx himself wrote that it wasn't just enough for the working class to exist.

He distinguished between a 'class in itself' and a 'class for itself' – between a class that merely exists, and a class that is a self-conscious political subject fighting for its own interests.

Marx saw in British Chartists and the French Revolution of 1848 the beginnings of workers’ political movements in which they became a class 'for itself”.

But he also stressed that this would be a long and uneven process in which there would be defeats as well as victories.

He saw the Paris Commune of 1871, where workers took power for a short time but were then crushed by the ruling class, as a source of important lessons.

It showed that workers in struggle would forge new forms of political power, directly under their own control and radically more democratic than anything imaginable under capitalism.

I suspect that if Chris Trotter had been a contemporary of Karl Marx he would of been penning articles attacking Marx's 'delusions' about the revolutionary potential of the working class.

FIRE SALE AT LWR: SUBSTANTIAL JOB LOSSES ON THE WAY


BDO Spicers, the receivers for Lane Walker Rudkin, are putting up the business for sale.

The business will be broken up for sale with the hosiery, underwear and sports clothing manufacturing and distribution businesses and a screenprinting operation all up for grabs.

BDO Spicers is running a tender process for the sale of the assets of the business. It will be up to interested parties to determine whether they were interested in buying the entire business or individual parts. Tenders close on May 22.

The receivers have effectively launched a fire sale of LWR's assets.

LWR's main creditor is the Westpac Bank.

LWR workers in Brisbane have already been told that the factory will be sold and their jobs are more than likely to go.

It would appear that all the huffin' and puffin' from various politicians and trade unionists has come to nought.

There will be substantial job losses.

So far there has been no comment from Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker - who said he was 'going to do everything he could to save the business' - or from local MP's like Ruth Dyson. Both are supporters of the neoliberal economic policies that led to LWR's downfall in the first place.

There has also been no comment from the southern secretary of the National Distribution Union, Paul Watson, who said he was hoping for a 'positive way forward for LWR'.

Other than the Alliance Party, no-one has argued for the public ownership of LWR in order to safeguard jobs.

WHAT HAVE TVNZ's 'SUNDAY' AND DAVID BRENT GOT IN COMMON?


Over the years I think I've fired a fair number of critical salvoes at New Zealand television and its relentless dumbing down.

But it reached a point when I felt I was just tilting at windmills. Just when you thought New Zealand television couldn't get any worse than it did and just when you thought they couldn't possibly make worse programmes they did.

However I must register my forlorn protest about last nights Sunday on Television One.

There are many important issues confronting New Zealand right now - how about the parlous state of the economy, for example - but Television One's flagship 'in-depth current affairs show' last night screened, believe it or not, a Janet McIntyre piece about women becoming disinterested in sex.

The show featured a sex therapist but I tuned out after about five minutes and watched The Young Ones on Comedy Central. This is the blurb I found on TVNZ's website:

How can a woman save a failing marriage when her libido is on the wane? The advice from one expert is to continue having sex - even if she doesn't feel like it. Sex therapist Bettina Arndt's advice has caused an outcry. But could her advice be the key to eternal happiness?

This sounds like something straight out of the Women's Weekly.

Surely Sunday should be covering substantial and important issues rather than wasting its resources on titillation masquerading as current affairs? This is especially so given that there is so little current affairs on Television One and New Zealand television generally that wasting an hour of everyone's time with last night's dismal effort is just insulting our intelligence.

The Sunday slogan is 'wherever there's a story we'll find it'. This is about as credible as David Brent declaring that 'there is a weight of intellect behind my comedy'.

DEMOCRACY NOW!


I'm not going to comment on the Napier shootings but I thought it telling that, suddenly, both TV1 and TV3 found the resources to send a small army of journalists and newsreaders to cover the incident from all possible angles.

They don't appear to be able to find the resources though to do in-depth programmes on 'trivial' matters like the collapse of the New Zealand economy or the wreck that is the New Zealand health system. Or what about an in-depth discusson programme on the failure of neoliberalism? Obviously, in this age when news has become infotainment, such stories are just not 'sexy' enough.

Still there are a few shafts of credible journalistic light still shining out there.

One such light is Democracy Now!, a daily US-based independent news program hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.

The pair have won numerous awards since they started broadcasting in 1996 including the Right Likelihood Award, often referred to as the 'Alternative Nobel Prize' for 'developing an innovative model of truly independent grassroots political journalism that brings to millions of people the voices that are often excluded by the mainstream media.'

This is the kind of show that could be broadcasting on a nationwide non-commercial youth radio network (for instance) but, for now, its only available to Christchurch listeners on community radio station Plains FM 96.9. It has been broadcasting the show for several years now.

Democracy Now! can be heard Monday and Wednesdays at 9.30pm, Tuesday at 10.30pm, Thursday and Fridays at 9pm and a repeat play on Saturday at 9pm.

LWR: RECEIVERS PLAN TO SELL BRISBANE FACTORY, 60 JOBS TO GO


Across the Tasman, the bad news for Lane Walker Rudkin workers has come early.

The Courier-Mail in Sydney has reported that sixty workers at Lane Walker Rudkin's Brisbane sportswear factory have been told that their jobs are likely to go.

Queensland Secretary of the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union, Jack Morel, said workers have been told the company doesn't have the money to pay their entitlements.

Morel said workers may get some money under the federal government's General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy scheme if the company couldn't pay.

Morel says that the receivers have informed him that they plan to allow the factory to keep trading for five weeks and then they will sell the building.

'I don't see any point in that. I don't think they'll get a buyer in this current economic climate,' commented Morel.

Obviously the Australian developments are not a good omen for workers at LWR'S Christchurch factory.

WESTPAC: THE WORLD'S MOST PROFITABLE BANK-BUT IT STILL CALLS IN THE RECEIVERS AT LWR


Westpac, the bank that placed Lane Walker Rudkin in receivership, is the world's most profitable bank.

The Canterbury clothing manufacturer owes its creditors, principally Westpac, some $50 million.

According to a February report from the Boston Consulting Group Westpac is enjoying big profit margins.

The report, entitled Living with New Realities, found that Westpac was the only full-service commercial bank in the world to generate a return on equity of more than 20 per cent last year -Westpac's return was 20.4 percent.

Return on equity (ROE) is one of the leading measures of financial performance and gauges how well a company uses earnings from previous periods to produce more profits.

Australia's four major banks - NAB, CBA, ANZ and Westpac - delivered the biggest combined returns to shareholders along with Spanish banks.

Westpac has also been helped by the Australian Labor Government announcing a funding guarantee late last year.

The guarantee effectively shifted some of the business risks associated with banking to Australian taxpayers.

Westpac's status as the world's most profitable bank might be good news for its shareholders but workers at Lane Walker Rudkin might just be wondering why they are in danger of losing their jobs because of Westpac calling in the receivers.

PROSPECTS DON'T LOOK GOOD FOR LWR WORKERS

The prospects of LWR workers keeping their jobs don't look good in the light of Mayor Sideshow Bob Parker's most recent comments.

After being put in the picture by the receivers Parker commented that 'Lane Walker Rudkin's position is much more serious than I first realised.'

He also added that 'the banks' (ie Westpac) were 'clearly putting a lot of pressure on'.

Despite a lot of hot air from politicians and union officials alike, Parker admits that '.. at the end of the day it's going to come down to a call that the receivers will have to make.'

With LWR in debt to the tune of some $50 million, its hardly likely that the receivers are not going to fulfil Westpac's demands.

LWR: SUPPORT FROM CALIFORNIA


Here's another comment I thought worth highlighting given the dire situation at Lane Walker Rudkin:


My small business in California has done well with LWR woolies--for a couple of years now--and I'm sorry to see them go. We don't sell anything made in China, and won't. We have other sources for woolies, and good ones, but LWR was a key part of our line, and the local rep, Robbie Flynn, is top-notch, and has become a friend. Too bad for all. Here's hoping something good comes of it.

Grant Petersen
Rivendell Bicycle Works

PATHETIC RESPONSE FROM COUNCIL OF TRADE UNIONS TO RISING JOBLESS FIGURES


The 'official unemployment figure has risen from 4.7 percent to 5 percent of the population or 115,000 people.

While the media has highlighted that it was slightly less than a predicted 5.3 percent, it actually masks some rather more serious figures.

The jobless figure - that is people who are officially unemployed, available but not seeking work, seeking work but not available - has risen by some 18.9 percent from the previous March survey to some 224,000.

Also, the number of underemployed people - often referred to as the 'working poor' - has also increased. There were some 473,500 working part time in the March quarter and nearly 100,000 of these workers (21,1 percent) wanted more hours.

This compares with 16.5 percent for the December 2008 quarter.

Not coincidentally food banks are reporting they are struggling to meet the demand.

With our parliamentary politicians - of various flavours - still locked into the failed and discredited neoliberal model, the unemployment figures will continue to grow.

It seems that the Council of Trade Unions are not going to offer an economic alternative to neoliberlism either.

It's response to the unemployment figures has been to 'suggest' that the government invest in 'home insulation and environmental work' while offering the jobless some more 'assistance'.

Just hopeless.

A government - and a union hierarchy - that was really committed to tackling the unemployment crisis would confront the causes and not just the symptons.

A commitment to nationalising failing industries in order to safeguard jobs would be a good start.

Let's hear the CTU calling for that.


PS. I'm not holding my breath.

THE LWR COLLAPSE: NO ANSWERS FROM POLITICIANS AND UNION OFFICIALS


Is there any hope for local Canterbury manufacturer Lane Walker Rudkin and the nearly five hundred jobs that are on the line?

Today Mayor Sideshow Bob Parker chaired an' informal meeting 'between interested parties' including the unions, the Social Development Ministry and receivers.

This was basically a 'damage control' meeting - it gives the appearance of something being done for the LWR workers but the cold hard reality is that a whole bunch of neoliberal politicians and some complacent unionists will achieve little.

The bitterly ironic thing is that some of the people who attended this meeting, including Labour MP Ruth Dyson and Parker himself, are supporters of the very same neoliberal economic policies that contributed to putting LWR into the economic crapper in the first place.

And workers cannot expect to be adequately defended by union officials either.

As the Alliance Party has also commented the real answer is to put LWR into public ownership but you won't hear that argument from the Labour-aligned union hierarchy.

National Distribution Union southern region secretary Paul Watson, dipping into his book of cliches, said yesterday that he was hoping for a 'positive way forward for LWR.'

Said Watson:

'The next step from us is looking to see what recovery package can be realistically looked at here, and what resources can be looked here, and what resources do we need to support that both at the local industry and national government level.'

So there's going to be a lot of 'looking' apparently. This is just rhetoric from Watson and LWR workers deserve a helluva lot more than just empty words.

Why isn't he demanding that LWR be put into public ownership? Why isn't he upsetting the neoliberal apple cart?

Of course Watson is the same guy who thought the introduction of a nine day fortnight at Summit Wool Spinners in Oamaru was 'positive' too - despite the fact that 47 workers lost their jobs.

DEAN PARKER REPLIES



Dean Parker has responded to the post 'We Will Not Cease' (April 26) and I thought it was worth highlighting. Here it is:


I'm a bit late in seeing these comments, but I'd just like to add my own to Joe Hendren's. The piece that was in the NZ Herald comes from a longer account of Tom Spiller I wrote for Kiwi Companeros, edited by Mark Derby and published by Canterbury University Press this month. In the longer account appears the following:

"I don’t want to make too much of this but you could put up an argument of how two contrary fighters for freedom, George Orwell and Tom Spiller, reached their final political destinations, or had their political dispositions reinforced, by way of the Spanish Civil War. George Orwell saw the threat of Stalinism, witnessed it at first hand in Spain extinguishing its rivals and thought the way to fight it was to maintain a critical and largely individual socialism while collaborating, where necessary, with the British state -- in his case, compiling dossiers for the Foreign Office. Tom Spiller in the chaotic and bloody trenches at Jarama and Brunette, saw the necessity of a ruthless unity, of a centralised command where orders have to be carried out. And this can lead to a mentality where you lose sight of what it is you’re fighting for and where the means becomes the endless end."

All the best.

LEFT IS RIGHT AND RIGHT IS LEFT


Chris Trotter has been crying into his computer again.

Chris can't understand why National lead Labour by the proverbial country mile in the opinion polls, despite the fact the economy is going to hell in handcart.

Trotter searches for answers in all the wrong places.

In his newspaper column (May 1 ) he blames the media:

Okay, a lot of the blame for this has to be laid at the feet of this country’s most listened-to commentators, nearly all of whom are vehement right-wing talkback hosts who’ve spent the last three years campaigning quite unashamedly for a change of government, and who are so generously remunerated that, to their ears, all this gloomy chatter about "the most serious economic crisis in 70 years" sounds utterly bizarre.

Trotter strangely doesn't mention television commentators. Perhaps that's because he's one himself and he appears to be on chummy terms with right wingers like Mathew Hooton and the awful Paul Henry. A case of not biting the hand that feeds you?

Anyway, Trotter concludes that the media's pro-National outlook doesn't, in itself, explain National's popularity.

So there must be something else. What can it be?

Trotter, carefully avoiding the elephant in the room labelled 'Labour Party' says it all the fault of the stupid old voters! Apparently some of us are 'in denial' and doing a fair old imitation of Forrest Gump to boot.

But Dr Trotter, what are the voters denying? He writes:

...what are the voters denying? Easy. They’re denying they need anybody’s help to survive and prosper; they’re denying that their social and economic security’s got anything to do with Labour, or the working-class traditions of solidarity and struggle it stands for. They’re also denying the all-too-visible signs that "nice Mr Key" and his right-wing mates are preparing to rip the guts out of what’s left of the welfare state.

That's the problem with pop psychology - it's superficial and explains nothing.

Actually, the voters are denying nothing when it comes to Labour. Having been on the receiving end of Labour's fundamentally anti-working class policies, they are entirely correct to say that social and economic security has nothing to do with Labour. Labour worked entirely within the confines of capitalism for nine years and at the last election they had nothing to offer but the peculiar message that we should 'trust them'.

Of course, Chris is running an agenda here. Can you guess what it is?

To continue with his lame argument, Chris says that people are denying that National sucks because if two-thirds of them didn't believe New Zealand was "heading in the right direction", they’d have no excuse for not heading up Queen Street and turning left.

Left? Chris has re-discovered socialist politics?

Er, no.

Here's the rub. If you follow Trotter's directions you'd head up Queen Street and turn left into the arms of .....Phil Goff and the Labour Party! What a letdown.

Chris is reading his political map wrong again.

If you really did want to find Labour - god knows why - you would have to turn right at the top of Queen Street.

And, once there, we'd find Chris Trotter - mooching around in the rubble of Labour's social democratic tradition - trying to maintain the increasingy surreal fiction that there really is a difference between Labour and National. Phil Goff is there too of course, along with Mt Albert candidate Dave Shearer. He apparently thinks private armies are a good idea.

Phil Goff is already on record that Labour intends to stand on broadly the same economic policies in 2011 that led to is defeat in 2008. Mmm, you won't find mention of that on Bowalley Road or on The Standard.

How on earth can anyone be inspired to support Labour when its leader just wants to be John Key?

Last week a major clothing manufacturer, Lane Walker Rudkin, collapsed with debts approaching $50 million. Nearly 500 workers are likely to lose their jobs.

Where was Labour on this? Absolutely nowhere. Where was the anger? Where was the passion?

Of course since Labour's free market polices contributed heavily to LWR's demise perhaps Goff and co just want this majpr business collapse to recede quickly into the background.

If Labour were different -as Trotter tediously keeps on asserting they are - then why are they are not offering an economic alternative to neoliberalism? Why are they simply offering more of the same old tripe?

These questions are often asked but they are never answered. It's easier just to take pot shots at John Key or blame the media or the electorate for Labour's obvious failings. There's not a lot of intellectual honesty at work here.

Why would any worker support Labour when its run by a discredited bunch of neoliberal hacks offering virtually the same set of failed economic polices as National?

EMPTY WORDS FROM SIDESHOW BOB


Mayor Sideshow Bob Parker has expressed his concern about the collapse of Lane Walker Rudkin and the real probability that nearly 500 jobs will be lost.

Sideshow said the placing of LWR in receivership was a 'real blow' to Christchurch.

One of the fundamental reasons that the clothing manufacturing has collapsed is that it simply cannot compete with the cheap clothing imports arriving from - principally- China.

Yet Sideshow Bob was a most enthusiastic supporter of a free trade agreement with China - and, indeed, headed off to China to witness the signing in Beijing.

Sideshow Bob claimed that this agreement would be beneficial to the Canterbury economy and urged local business to seek ways to take 'advantage' of the free trade deal with China. Bob thought tourism was an area where Christchurch and Canterbury could benefit - although he didn't say how exactly.

So what is Sideshow Bob's remedy for the LWR collapse?

The short answer is that he hasn't got one. He just 'hopes' that the receivers can 'somehow' keep LWR going. With LWR owing some $50 million Sideshow is just blowing hot air.

ROSA LUXEMBURG: THE ORIGINS OF MAY DAY


The happy idea of using a proletarian holiday celebration as a means to attain the eight-hour day was first born in Australia. The workers there decided in 1856 to organize a day of complete stoppage together with meetings and entertainment as a demonstration in favor of the eight-hour day. The day of this celebration was to be April 21. At first, the Australian workers intended this only for the year 1856. But this first celebration had such a strong effect on the proletarian masses of Australia, enlivening them and leading to new agitation, that it was decided to repeat the celebration every year.

In fact, what could give the workers greater courage and faith in their own strength than a mass work stoppage which they had decided themselves? What could give more courage to the eternal slaves of the factories and the workshops than the mustering of their own troops? Thus, the idea of a proletarian celebration was quickly accepted and, from Australia, began to spread to other countries until finally it had conquered the whole proletarian world.

The first to follow the example of the Australian workers were the Americans. In 1886 they decided that May 1 should be the day of universal work stoppage. On this day 200,000 of them left their work and demanded the eight-hour day. Later, police and legal harassment prevented the workers for many years from repeating this [size] demonstration. However in 1888 they renewed their decision and decided that the next celebration would be May 1, 1890.

As long as the struggle of the workers against the bourgeoisie and the ruling class continues, as long as all demands are not met, May Day will be the yearly expression of these demands. And, when better days dawn, when the working class of the world has won its deliverance then too humanity will probably celebrate May Day in honor of the bitter struggles and the many sufferings of the past.


In the meanwhile, the workers’ movement in Europe had grown strong and animated. The most powerful expression of this movement occurred at the International Workers’ Congress in 1889. At this Congress, attended by four hundred delegates, it was decided that the eight-hour day must be the first demand. Whereupon the delegate of the French unions, the worker Lavigne from Bordeaux, moved that this demand be expressed in all countries through a universal work stoppage. The delegate of the American workers called attention to the decision of his comrades to strike on May 1, 1890, and the Congress decided on this date for the universal proletarian celebration.

In this case, as thirty years before in Australia, the workers really thought only of a one-time demonstration. The Congress decided that the workers of all lands would demonstrate together for the eight-hour day on May 1, 1890. No one spoke of a repetition of the holiday for the next years. Naturally no one could predict the lightning-like way in which this idea would succeed and how quickly it would be adopted by the working classes. However, it was enough to celebrate the May Day simply one time in order that everyone understand and feel that May Day must be a yearly and continuing institution [...].

The first of May demanded the introduction of the eight-hour day. But even after this goal was reached, May Day was not given up. As long as the struggle of the workers against the bourgeoisie and the ruling class continues, as long as all demands are not met, May Day will be the yearly expression of these demands. And, when better days dawn, when the working class of the world has won its deliverance then too humanity will probably celebrate May Day in honor of the bitter struggles and the many sufferings of the past.

This article was first published in 1894.

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