Oceania

Bourgeois historians portray New Zealand as a place where class conflict has never really existed. Such statements bear no relation to reality, as the history of New Zealand is a history of class struggle with the building of the trade union movement in the late 19th century, the fight against the arbitration system and for militant trade unionism in the early 20th century culminating in the great strike of 1913. Today that tradition is once more coming to the fore with a rising level of working class militancy.

We are proud to announce a new website linked to Marxist.com, Socialist Appeal New Zealand, the website of the Marxist tendency in New Zealand. Its aim is to defend the ideas of Marxism within the New Zealand labour movement and create a tendency embedded in the mass organisations of the New Zealand working class.

The Australian Labor Party won a landslide victory in the recent elections. At the centre of the election campaign was Howard’s hated anti-trade union legislation. The workers of Australia voted massively against this. But as the new Labor leader, Rudd, is no different from Blair, what are the tasks facing genuine socialists in Australia?

Earlier this month there was a very militant 48-hour strike of the New Zealand dockworkers over pay and conditions. As usual, the bosses, while getting fat salaries themselves, claim the dockworkers are already well paid!

Piero Barrachi was a pioneering Australian Communist, who threw himself into the struggle for a revolutionary party in Australia after the Russian revolution. Initially he did not understand the Stalinist degeneration but eventually he saw through it and joined the Trotskyists. Simon Williams reviews a book about his life.

Australian Capital Reserve recently went bust leaving thousands of small investors at risk of impoverishment, among them pensioners who were convinced to sink their life savings into their various speculative schemes. It has already been made clear that the small investors will be the last to receive any compensation, an example of what we may see elsewhere.

An Auckland woman, Folole Muliaga, recently died in New Zealand because she could no longer run her oxygen machine which kept her alive, the reason being the electricity company Mighty River Power cut off her supply because of a NZ$168.40 arrears. A clear example that services run for profit kill!

On the surface New Zealand is “booming” but it is doing so at the expense of the working class. It is not surprising that under such conditions trade union membership has significantly increased and strikes over collective agreements and pay have broken out.

One year since the massive mobilisations against the introduction of draconian anti-trade union laws, the workers of Australia today showed their determination to keep the struggle alive. Over 250,000 turned out across Australia in rallies to protest.

After 28 days of being locked out workers belonging to the National Distribution Union (NDU) and the Engineering, Printing & Manufacturing Union (EMPU) at the 3 Progressive Enterprises supermarkets depots have won pay parity across all depots within the next 18 months in one of the bitterest dispute seen in New Zealand in a generation.

The recent Queensland election was called against a backdrop of crisis in the public health system and problems with water and electricity supply. The choice was between between a right-wing Labor party and the avowedly anti-worker policies of the Coalition.

Wages are abysmally low for supermarket workers in New Zealand. Recently the National Distribution Union organised a 48-hour stoppage. The bosses reacted with a lock-out. This has only served to strengthen the resolve of the striking workers. Send messages of solidarity and protest.

Construction workers in Western Australia are in the front line of a vicious attack under the Coalition government's anti-union laws. This Tuesday, one hundred and seven workers will be in court where they face ruinous fines of up to AU$28,600. The fines are for a strike which was called to protect safety at work and to defend a sacked union representative.