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(en) Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement Newssheet SOLIDARITY #1 - February 2009

Date Sun, 12 Apr 2009 12:29:58 +0300



IN THIS ISSUE: Water Meters, What is AWSM?, 90 Day Act ---- Not our crisis! Resist
attacks on workers ---- The current economic crisis has been and will continue to be used
as a chance for the bosses and the government to launch attacks on wages and working
conditions. ---- Already, the National Government has introduced legislation (such as the
90 Day Hire & Fire Act, see inside for more) that attacks our workplace conditions, and as
the recession digs in further we can expect them to bring in more new laws that try to
stop us from working together to improve our wages, conditions and everyday lives.
Meanwhile, across the country redundancies (both "voluntary" and forced) are being used,
both to get rid of staff and as a way of bullying workers into accepting below inflation
pay rises (or worse!) Farmers department store workers were recently offered a minuscule
20 cent rise, and this sort of offer is becoming more and more common.
Some unionised worksites have stood
up to this and refused to accept sub-
par offers: in recent times bus drivers
in Hamilton and Wellington have
both experienced lock-outs (where
employers refuse to let staff back to
work until they give up their demands)
but they both stood staunch and
received improved offers.
Meanwhile, unemployment is predicted
to double to 7% this year, and
remain at 7 - 7.5% until 2011. Higher
unemployment always means lower
wages, as bosses find it easier to
replace staff that demand "too much".
Unemployment benefits are still set at
the same low levels they were reduced
to in the early 1990s, meaning that
especially in the larger cities (and
even more so for people with families)
a firing makes it near-impossible to
survive without additional assistance
from charities such as food banks.
Of course, all this puts pressure on
workers with mortgages, and as the
housing market collapses, people are
finding themselves with mortgages they
can't afford to pay on houses they can't
sell. While the problem hasn't here yet
reached the levels seen in the USA,
there is no telling how bad it might get.

But its not all bad news - collective
action can win and has won. Recently,
workers at Republic Windows and
Doors in the USA occupied their
workplace when it shut down, and won
payouts and more! In Northern Ireland,
a factory was occupied by workers who
won improved redundancy packages. If
we talk to our workmates and support
each other in hard times, together we
can ensure that we aren't made to pay
for the bosses' crisis.

------------------------------------
For more info:
A brief history of the crisis
http://libcom.org/library/brief-history-
crisis
Analysis and news
http://libcom.org/tags/credit-crisis
------------------------------------

Special Feature - Water

Water meters for Wellington?

Recent weeks have seen an increase
in discussion about water metering
in Wellington, fuelled by Mayor
Kerry Prendergast and Chair of the
Greater Wellington Regional Council
Fran Wilde. They, and others, are
attempting to use environmental
and conservation concerns as a
way to push through compulsory
metering without opposition, but
several groups have seen through
their charade and are campaigning
against the introduction of water
meters.
The Wellington Residents' Coalition
is currently having monthly meetings,
stalls and planning sessions to
organise against this attack on
Wellington's poorest. AWSM is
working within the Coalition on this.

Currently, residential water in
Wellington is paid for by a portion
of rates - in other words, the more
expensive your house, the more
you pay towards the city's water bill.
Water meters would see the cost of
providing water fall disproportionately
on those who can least afford it.
While there are measures that can
be taken to lower household water
usage (such as rainwater tanks and
greywater systems), their cost is
often out of reach for many families,
and of course renters and council
tenants have no real ability to install
them.
The Council is quite happy to let
Wellington's single largest water user,
Taylor Preston Limited in Ngaraunga
Gorge, receive a hefty subsidy for
their water bill, showing well and
truly where their priorities lie - with
business and the rich, not ordinary
Wellingtonians.
If you are interested in finding
out more or getting involved in
the campaign, visit http://www.
righttowater.org.nz/ or contact
AWSM.

Profile: Auckland Water Pressure Group

The battle against commercialised
water services and user charges
has been going for over a decade in
Auckland City, and there is a lot we
can learn from that campaign.

In 1997 the Auckland City Council
commercialised water services and
Metrowater Ltd was established.
Metrowater removed the water pipe
to a house belonging to a person who
refused to pay them for water, which
was until then a council run public
service. This triggered the formation
of the Water Pressure Group, made
up of people also boycotting their
wastewater bills and later both water
and wastewater bills and determined
to abolish Metrowater Ltd and return
water services to democratic Council
control.

On 25 November 1998, the
Water Pressure Group's Turn
On Squad dug up the street
and reinstalled the water pipe
to a disconnected house for
the first time. Over the next few
years hundreds of homes had
their water cut off and many
needed their pipes reconnected.
For three years the WPG was a
very effective fully democratic group
made up of people from very diverse
backgrounds with many different
practical skills and political views. At
its height up to sixty people attended
weekly organising meetings where
ideas and plans were discussed and
voted on by the meetings. Up to 2000
supporters refused to pay their water
bills and took part in protest marches,
openly digging up streets and
installing water pipes, and distributing
leaflets across Auckland and holding
many public meetings.

Despite enormous pressure at times,
a succession of city councils ­ both
right-wing and "centre-left" ­ have
betrayed the people's demands and
the despised Metrowater still exists
despite an on-going bills boycott
campaign.

The WPG didn't stop user charges
in Auckland but the campaign has
played a big part in slowing down
the spread of commercialised water
services around New Zealand.
Also in preparing local citizens for
worse to come. Right now, there are
imminent plans to entirely restructure
Auckland, and an extreme danger
exists of water services being
commercialised across the region,
or even prepared for privatisation, by
franchise.

We can learn from the experience
of the Water Pressure Group as
the Wellington and Christchurch
City Councils are trying to
commercialise and eventually
privatise water services. The most
effective way to fight this is with
non-hierarchical community groups
using mass based direct action.
See http://www.water-pressure-
group.org.nz/ for more details.

He wai Mori - Drinking water in Parihaka

Local and national government are
currently on a propaganda mission
trying to convince us that water is
owned by `all of us' (and not Mori).
However, this is simply a charade
to firstly bring water under state
ownership and at a later stage
privatise water distribution and
commodify water. The Wellington
City Council wants to introduce
water meters and soon we could find
ourselves in a similar situation as
the people of Cochabamba (Mexico)
where in 2003 even the rain was
privatised.

In Parihaka, the community has
already put a water system in place
that is operated and owned by the
the community. Parihaka is a small
village in Taranaki with a huge
history. Invaded by 1,500 colonial
troops in 1881 after a direct action
campaign to stop the confiscation
of land, thousands of Mori were
arrested and thrown in jail - some
for years - without trial. A 2000 acre
block, collectively owned by several
thousand people, is all that remains
under indigenous control and around
25 people, half of them kids, live in
the papakainga. No one pays rates to
the council and the maintenance of
the road into the pa and the electricity
supply as well as rubbish removal
and recycling are all organised by the
community.

In recent years, pipes were laid to
a spring a few kilometres up the
road. This spring provides the whole
village with safe drinking water. A
large 2,000,000 litre tank was built
into a hill. This water reservoir does
not only cater for the village, it stores
enough water for drinking, showers
and toilets during the Parihaka
International Peace Festival in
January. The festival lasts three days
and around 10,000 people come
to listen to music, speakers and
participate in discussions on topics
such as environmental sustainability,
tino rangatiratanga and Parihaka
history.

----------------------------------

Glossary
he wai Mori - fresh water
commodify - to turn something into
a commodity, something that can
be bought and sold on the capitalist
market
papakainga - village
tino rangatiratanga - can be
translated as sovereignty / absolute
chieftainship
---------------------------------

Say NO to the 90 Day Hire & Fire Act!

Workers in small businesses across
the country are soon to be subject to
new attacks on their rights at work.

The National Party's 90 Day Hire
And Fire Act which comes into effect
in late March 2009 means that any
worker at a business that employs
under 20 workers (over 90% of
worksites, over 30% of employed
workers) can be fired without
reason during the first 90 days of
employment. The Council of Trade
Unions estimates that approximately
100,000 people fall into this category
at any one time.

While workers at larger worksites are
currently not affected, the National
Party has shown that it will likely seek
to extend this law to all workers at
some point and there is no doubt that
the powerful business lobbies will
be heavily pushing for this over the
coming years.

Recent years have seen an increase
in casualised labour, temp agencies
and the like. The 90 Day Act simply

takes these moves one step further in
reducing job security. The message
from the Government and employers
is clear - we should be grateful for
the jobs we have, and accept attacks
without question or we will be fired.
In reality however,
the capitalist system
- the very system that
organises the economy
at the moment - is based
on us workers selling our
labour to the employers
who make huge profits
from our time and effort.
And now, in times of
economic crisis with
diminishing profits, it
is supposed to be the
workers who pay for the
bosses' stuff-up!
We can resist attacks by
taking collective action
with our fellow workers.
By linking together (in
unions and in other
groups) we can better
focus our power and fight for better
wages and conditions.

The only way to stop the 90 Day Ac
(and any future extensions of it) is
by taking direct action, standing up
with our workmates and
supporting any and all
victims of this new law.
Employers that attempt to
use this legislation must
be targeted with pickets,
slowdowns, work-to-
rule and other forms of
collective action in order
to teach them a lesson
- that it is workers who
hold the power and when
we act together we can
and will win!
AWSM will stand
alongside unions and
other groups fighting
against the 90 Day Act
- get involved today!
Left - An EPMU member at a protest
at Parliament against a previous
attempt to pass 90 day legislation
in 2006

---------------------------------------------

AWSM Aims & Principles

1: The Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement
is an organisation working towards a classless,
stateless society: anarchist-communism. We
are made up of revolutionary class-struggle
anarchists from across Aotearoa / New Zealand.
2: Capitalism is based on the exploitation of the
working class by the ruling class. But inequality
and exploitation are also expressed in terms of
race, gender, sexuality, health, ability, age etc,
and in these ways one section of the working
class oppresses another. This divides us,
causing a lack of class unity in struggle that
benefits the ruling class. Oppressed groups
are strengthened by autonomous action
which challenges social and economic power
relationships. To achieve our goal we must
relinquish power over each other on a personal
as well as a political level.
3: We believe that fighting all forms of
oppression and exploitation is necessary.
Anarchist-Communism cannot be achieved
while sexism and racism still exist. In order
to be effective in their struggle against their
oppression both within society and within the
working class, oppressed groups may at times
need to organise independently. However,
this should be as working class people only,
as cross-class movements hide real class
differences and achieve little for those in the
oppressed groups. Full emancipation cannot be
achieved without the abolition of capitalism.
4: We support Tino Rangatiratanga and stand
in solidarity with grassroots indigenous struggle
and direct action, while not supporting Mori
capitalism and corporatisation (we acknowledge
the lack of anarchist theory on the indigenous
struggle in Aotearoa / New Zealand and are
in the process of researching, debating and
discussing a more detailed position on this
point).
5: While trade unions can never be
revolutionary, we recognise that the majority
of collective workplace struggle today occurs
within unions and therefore our members should
join unions where they exist in their workplace,
while being wary of any attempts by union
bureauracrats to stifle rank and file struggle.
Where unions do not exist we encourage our
members to engage with their fellow workers to
initiate collective action.
6: We recognise that the general strike is one of
the working class' most powerful weapons and
oppose all restrictions on worker's rights to take
collective action, including strikes.
7: As well as exploiting and oppressing the
majority of people worldwide, Capitalism
threatens the planet through war and the
destruction of the environment.
8: It is not possible to abolish Capitalism without
a revolution, which will arise out of class conflict.
The ruling class must be completely overthrown
to achieve anarchist communism. Because the
ruling class will not relinquish power without
their use of armed force, this revolution will be a
time of violence as well as liberation.
9: We acknowledge that by implementing the
organisation section of the The Organizational
Platform of the Libertarian Communists
- theoretical unity, tactical unity, collective
responsibility and federalism - we will be best
able to move forward in promoting the aims and
principles of the Aotearoa Workers Solidarity
Movement.

=================================================
CONTACT
info@awsm.org.nz / www.awsm.org.nz
_________________________________________
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