Brainstorm a list of dangerous jobs and it would have to include those in the forestry sector. It is not hard to imagine how working long hours in all weather conditions with heavy equipment and physically demanding tasks, can take their toll on those in the industry. Prolonged employment can lead to RSI, back strain and hearing loss and that’s just when performing the work without mishaps. This doesn’t take into account the more extreme end of the spectrum, with death a genuine possibility. This is not an exaggeration, with statistics showing reality is every bit as bad as perception. Sixty-seven forestry workers have died in work related accidents since 2000, with 33 deaths and 874 injuries since 2008. There have been four fatalities this year so far. To give some comparative meaning to this, the death rate in the UK forestry industry for example, is 10.4 per 100,000 workers and in NZ a staggering 343 per 100,000 ! Continue reading
Exactly 100 years ago, in July 1913, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) published an article in their monthly newspaper titled ‘Ki nga Kaimahi Maori’. Percy Short, a painter from Johnsonville, started a series of articles in Te Reo for the revolutionary organisation. The IWW – te Iuniana o nga Kaimahi o te Ao – was founded in the US in 1905. Its famous preamble states that “the working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.”  Millions of workers across the world joined this revolutionary organisation that was opposed to dividing up workers by trades and instead favoured the ‘one big union’ for all.
In Aotearoa, the first IWW branch was eastablished in 1908 in Wellington.2 In 1913, things really heated up for the IWW with a nation-wide speaking tour and the regular publication of the paper Industrial Unionist. With the start of the ‘Great Strike’ in late October the paper was published almost every three days keeping its four page format. Circulation reached 4,000 which was an enormous achievement for a small organisation with limited funds and radical ideas.
The article by Short, while brief, shows a sincere desire to connect the struggles on the waterfront and in the mines with the confiscation of land. It talks about how ‘in the old days’ – the time before colonisation – everything belonged to everyone (na te iwi katoa nga mea katoa) and concludes:
E nga kaimahi o te Ao katoa, Whakakotahitia; kaore he mea e ngaro, ko te Ao katoa e riro mai – Workers of the whole world, unite; you have nothing to lose, you have the world to win. Continue reading
The dominant narrative on World War II has New Zealand standing alongside the mother country, in defence of freedom and democracy against evil dictatorships. While some have recoiled at the economic deprivation that prevailed and were shocked by the deaths of family members, few have questioned the rationale of the war itself. The documentary Sedition looks at the experiences and motivations of the extreme minority of people who did resist the war. This is done through a combination of archival footage and interviews with participants and academics. Continue reading
Capitalism is the economic system that prevails globally. One of the main characteristics of this system is the pursuit of profit by a minority and the ‘development’ of infrastructure for this purpose, above the needs or wants of the people at large. It’s true that the process varies slightly from place-to-place in the way it’s implemented. In some locations the powers-that-be can literally bulldozer their way over opposition. In others, the population manages to organize to oppose these changes.
A current example of this tension between people and profit can be found in the Rotorua area. The construction of an Eastern Arterial highway is being proposed. The route will be between Sala St in the east of the city and the airport, which is expected to cost in excess of $100million and is scheduled for completion sometime between 2020-2025. This proposal has met with strong opposition from local hapu, the most recent manifestation being the hundreds strong protest hikoi on 24th June, which marched to the council building. Upon reaching the meeting and following formalities, the Mayor Kevin Winters voiced his sympathy for the protestors but stressed that the council saw itself as “the meat in the sandwich” and that it was the NZ Transport Authority which is ultimately responsible for the project. The protestors dispersed peacefully but there can be no doubt this is only an early skirmish in what is to be an ongoing struggle. Continue reading
In recent decades the NZ economy has been restructured away from a basis in primary production, towards the service sector. This trend has been combined with labour laws taking collective protections from workers. These conditions along with other alterations in the economy have meant frequent changes of job for many people. It is becoming rarer for somebody to remain within the same kind of work, let alone with the same company for their entire working life (assuming you aren’t unemployed). For some, this has required doing more than one job simultaneously and in disparate fields. This includes those kinds of work once seen as ‘off-limits’, illegal and/or dangerous. Below is a slightly edited version of an interview with AWSM given by Troy, a male sex worker. The interview gives an insight into the experiences of someone who has changed his decisions in light of today’s economy.
AWSM: Thanks for agreeing to talk. Can you start by telling us about yourself?
Troy: I’m Troy. That’s my working name you understand. I’m in my late 20s. I’m from a small town in the North Island but I don’t want to say which one because it was so small. Everybody knows everybody, you know what I mean? My family is small, just an ordinary bunch of people. Dad went to work, Mum stayed home, that sort of thing. I went to school there, and got through it ok, even though I wasn’t a great student. I went to university for a couple of years but didn’t graduate. I kind of got bored there and also my finances weren’t great. I’ve had different regular day jobs but my main job is in the sex industry. I’ve been doing that a few years now.
AWSM: Ok thanks for that. So, what got you into sex work?
Troy: You know at school they make you write those ‘What I want to be when I grow up’ essays? Well I don’t think anyone writes ‘prostitute’ do they?! For me its always been the money, pure and simple. I needed money and working for minimum wage in a convenience store just wasn’t going to bring in the sort of cash I needed to pay my bills. And maybe I’m just not good at taking orders anyway [laughs]. It wasn’t the first thing that came to mind and I spent a long time thinking it over before I made the choice. I had a friend who I found out was doing it, so some of our discussions helped take me in that direction too. My first experience of it was positive. I got paid well and it worked out ok. Maybe if it had gone differently I would have made another choice. I don’t know. Continue reading
Brazil has seen strong economic growth, although this is slowing. In 2010, the economy grew by 7,5 percent; in 2011, the IMF ‘s estimate is 2,7 percent. Short-term slowdown is supposed to be followed by stronger growth in 2013, although, with IMF statistics, you can never tell. However, the parallel with Turkey, also a strongly growing economy moving in to slowdown but not quite in recession, is striking. Economies like Turkey, Brazil are becoming quite an important force in the world economy. What happens there, matters. Better watch out, and better be prepared to extend the hand of solidarity.
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For Ongoing Public Revolt Against State Terrorism
Last week a group of protesters started guarding action after some trees were taken down illegally in the name of urban gentrification projects. In the second day of the protest, very early in the morning, the police attacked the protesters heavily with gas bombs, pressured water and plastic bullets and wounded many protesters. A spark began against this event of state terrorism and spread across the country turning into a massive action and organized the big revolt. The public organized against increasing attacks, state terrorism and police violence and have been turning the streets into the area of resistance. This public revolt has been streaming for four days and is constantly spreading.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters have resisted in Taksim, where the government blocked the entrance and police violence peaked; finally they occupied Taksim Square, building barricades around the square and taking control of Taksim. Protesters in Ankara took to the streets in solidarity with Istanbul and building barricades in important places in the city, expanding the revolt. Hundreds of protesters in Izmir, another big city, have burned the ruling party’s building. Continue reading
Rotorua is not known as a hotbed of political activity, but on May 25th it became the first of over 400 cities worldwide to hold a march in opposition to the giant multinational Monsanto, which produces genetically modified food and seeds.
Around 150 people braved cold conditions to march from the lakeside to the town centre, where speeches were made by organisers and participants. These included a wide range of people, including environmentalists, indigenous rights activists, members of political organisations and concerned whanau. Below are photos from the day… Continue reading
There are few English-language movies that have the Spanish Civil War/Revolution of 1936-39 as a major backdrop to their narratives. Due to the wide-scale involvement of anarchists in that conflict, the opportunity to see a film that does mainly take place at that time, is naturally of interest to anyone with those politics. It would be nice to say that There Be Dragons lives up to the expectations its rarity of subject matter leads you to hope for. Not only does this movie disappoint in its portrayal of politics, but it fails in most other departments too. So much so, that the only up side to take from it, is that it is just as possible to learn from a negative example as a positive one.
So what are the details of this mess? The movie begins with a brief written synopsis of the Civil War in Spain. In itself this isn’t necessarily a bad strategy for drawing in the casual viewer with no previous knowledge of the subject. The trouble is, it reads more like a poor Year 9 Social Studies essay, complete with a misspelling of Hitler’s first name. Less excusable is that during the next couple of minutes a leading character tells us more or less the same information. Continue reading
Approximately 80 people attended a debate in Rotorua on May 24th on the subject of homelessness. The debate was framed around the topic of “Joining the Homeless is a Great Lifestyle Choice.” Speakers included two current City Councillors Merepeka Raukawa-Tait and Charles Sturt, ex-MP Steve Chadwick, Rev Tom Poata, Cliff Lee, Kingi Biddle and Barney Jewell. Proceeds from the debate were to go to the Rotorua Community Night Shelter Trust. Continue reading