Worker organised resistance

datePosted on 10:10, March 1st, 2009 by Anita

Once again Indymedia is the only place providing coverage of worker organised resistance against the current government’s policies.

While the media, major political parties and even the left wing blogs have concentrated on  what was going on inside the Jobs Summit a good old fashioned protest was going on outside. Despite the great messages, the photo friendly images and reality of the protest the coverage we’ve seen has focussed only on the centre-left’s response.

Even the left wing commentary on the lack of men at the summit has been full of images of men (to show the absence of women) rather than images of strong women raising their own voices.

I also haven’t seen any mainstream coverage of the Christchurch picket against the 90 day sacking law which attracted a variety of workers groups and unions.

Sometime in the next few years the left needs to realise that we’re no longer part of the orthodoxy, it’s ok to protest (in fact it always was). We can take our banner and loudspeakers out on the street and tell the world that our voices and our rights are important.

15 Responses to “Worker organised resistance”

  1. Tim Ellis on March 1st, 2009 at 11:09

    Interesting post, Anita.

    As for why the media haven’t reported on the protests, I think the answer is quite simple. Six radical left-wing Socialist Aotearoa activists turning up and shouting and screaming at a conference just isn’t very newsworthy. Nor are fifteen professional unionists turning up protesting at the 90 Day legislation.

    This is hardly mass movement stuff, is it?

  2. reid on March 1st, 2009 at 11:30

    worker organised resistance against the current government’s policies.

    So is this a spontaneous uprising from the workers or is it the union delegates in each workplace telling them that Union HQ has organised a protest and it’d be great if they could come along?

    BTW, just exactly what are the workers saying re: practical, realistics and workable solutions to deal with the GFC. Emphasis on practical, realistic and workable.

  3. SweetDisorder on March 1st, 2009 at 12:19

    The unions, and much of the left look pretty unorganised and confused at the moment. They are barking at any ole car that goes past without any reason.

  4. James on March 1st, 2009 at 13:52

    Gawd…..more lefty dropkicks sqealing that their privilages are being revoked….didums!

    Just what real rights are being removed by National?

    Freedom of speech? No. Freedom of association?…No The right to liberty? No.. The right to withdraw your labour and take it elsewhere? No..

    No…..its just the State backed privilages that the last Government handed out in exchange for votes and support…

  5. union head on March 1st, 2009 at 17:59

    There were about 30 on the Socialist Aotearoa picket of the summit. Which is pretty good considering the location and the timing.

    What is conspicuous by its absence is any opposition from Labour, the Greens or the Unions, bar Unite. Slag SA all you like, but alongside other anti-capitalists they’re the ones leading strikes in mcDonalds, the anti 90 day law Rat Patrol, the solidarity with Gaza movement, etc etc.

    Check out their web at
    http://www.socialistaotearoa.blogspot.com

  6. reid on March 1st, 2009 at 18:47

    What is conspicuous by its absence is any opposition from Labour, the Greens or the Unions, bar Unite. Slag SA all you like, but alongside other anti-capitalists they’re the ones leading strikes in mcDonalds, the anti 90 day law Rat Patrol, the solidarity with Gaza movement, etc etc.

    The point for me really, union head, is what is the point of being anti-capitalist in the first place? I mean, that question appears to be assumed by anti-capitalists as a given, but I’ve never seen any of them explain their reasoning, nor have I ever seen them explain any practical, realistic and workable alternatives to (a) replace the current system and (b) move us from where we are now, to where they want us to be.

    Until I see some anti-capitalists addressing those questions in great detail in a way that deals with the real world we live in today, I’ll continue to ignore their complaints.

  7. SweetDisorder on March 1st, 2009 at 19:26

    There were about 30 on the Socialist Aotearoa picket of the summit. Which is pretty good considering the location and the timing.

    What!?!?! Manukau City is hardly the black blocks, and it was Friday afternoon. Had everyone skived off ‘work’ early in your office.

    No Union Head, it was a poor turn out, face it, and its not like you didn’t have plenty of notice. It looks like you are a wanna be union that nobody cares about enough to join.

  8. George Darroch on March 1st, 2009 at 19:29

    As for why the media haven’t reported on the protests, I think the answer is quite simple. Six radical left-wing Socialist Aotearoa activists turning up and shouting and screaming at a conference just isn’t very newsworthy. Nor are fifteen professional unionists turning up protesting at the 90 Day legislation.

    You’re right, unfortunately. Penny Bright and Joe Carolan are instantly recognisable, and therefore discounted as ‘not representative’. Any protest with half a dozen people isn’t worth going to in my opinion, and I despair of protests that aren’t well organised – if it’s worth your time, it’s worth doing properly. This isn’t to say that well organised protests always attract good numbers, or badly organised ones fail, just that your chances are better.

    When there are well organised events, such as the Hikoi, anti-GE and anti-war protests of a few years ago, they tend to get recognition. And these flow out of events that inspire people to action, and large coalitions of smaller groups who work together to mobilise large memberships and advertise widely.

    Bit of a chicken and egg situation for SA, but there are a number of things that they could do differently.

  9. Lew on March 1st, 2009 at 20:38

    Anita,

    Sometime in the next few years the left needs to realise that we’re no longer part of the orthodoxy

    Two ways to read this. If you mean the `real’ left as embodied by RAM, the Workers’ Party, etc, was that ever part of the political orthodoxy in NZ? Or if you don’t mean that `real’ left, but the compassionate-capitalism (cabernet socialism, if you prefer, but I don’t) of Labour and to a lesser extent the Greens, then I’d argue they’re still very much part of the orthodoxy – not in government, sure, but the architects of most of the policy norms within which the current government operates.

    L

  10. jcuknz on March 1st, 2009 at 20:46

    What all you lefties could do which would make more sense than the current situation would be to monitor workplaces and see if there are any bloddy minded employers hiring and firing without due cause. Instead of feeding TV1 mis-information which the idiots don’t have enough knowledge or nouse to double check for accuracy.

  11. Lew on March 1st, 2009 at 21:02

    jcuknz,

    All in good time. The provisions have barely come into force yet.

    L

  12. Pablo on March 1st, 2009 at 21:39

    The main issue is whether workers should lead their own organisations and the progressive movement (due to to their structural location) along with other non-working class based groups (as in the social movement unionist model), or whether Left political parties should adopt a leadership role that unions and workers must follow. I have argued elsewhere that following the vanguardist (Leninist) model, whereby parties dominate working class representation and union logics of collective action, is inimical to working class interests under conditions of political democracy precisely because political democracy is based on class compromise, which under conditions of capitalism is inevitably and always skewed in favour of capitalists due to the structural dependence of the state and society on capital. Thus Party-dependent unions, following the vanguardist model and Michel’s iron law of oligarchy, will always put the interests of the Party and union bureaucracy before the interests of the rank and file. That means adoption of the politics of cooptation and sell-out by working class agents whose political interests supercede the bread-and-butter interests of their principals.

    It is a classic instance of the subordinate group collective action dilemma in a capitalist democracy.To my mind the the best way for workers to advance their collective, as opposed to individual, material and social interests as a class under conditions of democratic capitalism is to support militant but pragmatic (as opposed to doctrinaire revolutionary) unions that do not sell out the interests of the rank and file to the interests of the Party-affiliated (some would say lackey) union leadership, but which understand the logics of Kapital that underpin the socio-economic system qua hegemonic regime and can therefore confront employers on their own (if not equal) terms.

    The CTU and most of the big unions such as the EPMU are (Labour) party-dependent apparatchiks who sell out their members as readily as they lick the toes of their Party bosses. They do not so much represent workers as they betray or, at best, embourgeoise them in the interest of securing political advantage. On the other hand, UNITE is a union that fits into the militant/pragmatic category and their results are proof of their commitment and honesty. In that, Matt and Laila deserve credit for their integrity and commitment to the class line as well as their organisational acumen and defense of specific rank and file interests. Put another way, UNITE does not concern itself with its relationship with Mike Williams or Phil Goff; it worries about its members and future members in a class based system that is structurally biased against them.

    In sum: the greatest obstacle to working class advancement in Aotearoa is not the class enemy embodied in John Key but the class betrayers embodied in the likes of Helen Kelly and Andrew Little.

  13. lefty on March 2nd, 2009 at 11:13

    Joe is an activist with the UNite union.
    Penny is active with Watrer Pressure.
    That’s two groups that are farily active on the Left, George.

    By your logic, you’ll be claiming that your own brother John doesnt’t represent anything either. He’s one of the most active people in the environmental movement and he was on the picket too!

    ;)

  14. Anita on March 2nd, 2009 at 11:58

    There are a couple of comments about the fact the protestors were the usual suspects. I have two responses:

    1) The people inside the jobs summit and the electorate office were also the usual suspects. If that doesn’t count against them why does it count against the protest?

    2) As long as actions like this are ignored by the mainstream left (including mainstream left blogs and the major union head offices[1]) only the usual suspects will turn up. If we want to see worker-lead resistance against the government’s anti-worker policies we need to give the resistance sunlight and publicity.

    [1] There were small EPMU and SFWU groups at the Chch picket, but I don’t think there was head office encouragement/involvement/publicity.

  15. George Darroch on March 2nd, 2009 at 13:59

    Joe is an activist with the UNite union.
    Penny is active with Watrer Pressure.
    That’s two groups that are farily active on the Left, George.

    By your logic, you’ll be claiming that your own brother John doesnt’t represent anything either. He’s one of the most active people in the environmental movement and he was on the picket too!

    Meh, I don’t like small protests of this sort. Unless they’re part of a larger campaign, and are seen as manifestations of something greater.

    I think that the question that has to be asked before taking any action is – why? By which I mean; who is the audience – the public walking by, the people inside, the media? The media is pretty reactionary, although can be used sometimes. But you either have to have large numbers, or do something ‘newsworthy’, or pick up on a ‘hot issue’, preferably all three. Taking things up a level can convince the media that you’re genuinely concerned and that there are a greater number of people with lesser concern. The recent Rakon protest was a perfect example of all these being leveraged to great effect, and those who organised the various elements should be proud of themselves. A small protest can be completely counterproductive, particularly one with the ‘usual suspects’ they see every time, convincing the cynical media hacks that no-one supports your cause, and marginalising you the next time you do something.

    The general public are usually your best bet, and if you have a high traffic location you can do well. You should work out if you’re trying for everyone or just certain sectors of the community. The people inside – well, you’re not going to convince them, but often you can scare them or provoke a reaction.

    Too often I go to a protest, and the people who organised it don’t seem to know who they’re trying to reach when I ask them, and how their message applies to this group.

    I’m not opposed to protests (I’m involved with organising one right now :), not always opposed to small ones – just think that sometimes no protest is preferable to a small protest.

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