The maintenance workers responsible for safety checks on Auckland Transport passenger trains have been locked out for 30 days, from 13 May, following industrial action. The dispute came about because of the difference in pay between the workers – contracted by Spanish multinational CAF (Construcciones y Auxiliares de Ferrocarriles) – and Kiwirail workers. The technicians receive about $7000pa less than Kiwirail workers doing the same job. The workers are asking for a 13 percent pay increase over two years. The counter-offer from the company is 5.5 over two years.

Strike action was taken by over 50,000 teachers throughout New Zealand on 29 May to demand a 16 percent pay increase and improved working conditions. Their strike is the result of a breakdown in pay talks between the New Zealand Educational Institute, the Post-Primary Teachers Association; and the government Ministry of Education.

The Liberal-National Coalition, after being behind in the polls for years, has won the Australian general election. With 78, seats the Coalition have a majority in the lower house to pass legislation, but will have to rely on cross-bench support in the Senate (upper house) to get their legislation through.

The barbaric attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand by a far-right fascist terrorist – indiscriminately shooting men, women and children, killing 50 and injuring many more, live streaming his bloody actions as he carried them out – comes at a time of deepening economic crisis and heightened social and political tensions around the world. All decent human beings are rightly condemning the attack, but we have to ask ourselves: why are such acts of terrorism taking place, and what can be done to end this barbarism?

This month was significant in Australian politics, because it was the first time since 1929 (a period of over 90 years) that the sitting government lost a vote in the House of Representatives. The vote was over Australia’s controversial immigration policy, and the bill – proposed by the opposition party and opposed by the government – would make it easier for sick refugees held offshore to enter the country for medical treatment.

The 2017 general election resulted in a hung parliament on 23 September election night. Under the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system, this is not a surprising result. Now that the special votes have been counted, the National Party, under proportionality, lost two list seats awarded to them on election night, with Labour and the Greens picking up one list seat each.

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