A demonstration of 10,000 took place last Thursday in Auckland (big for New Zealand which has a population of only 4.5 million) against the TPPA [Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement]. There were also smaller rallies in more than 20 towns and cities. [Watch the video]
The TPPA is a free trade agreement between 12 countries around the Pacific, which make up about 36 percent of the world's GDP, including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US, and Vietnam. The deal cuts tariffs and establishes common labour and environmental standards and protections for intellectual property rights. In reality it opens up the markets of all these countries to untrammelled exploitation on the part of the major multinational corporations.
The demonstration had sit down protesters blocking intersections and motorway on and off ramps [UK dual carriage way!] bringing the city centre to a standstill, reminiscent of the tactics of the Springboks tour demos in 1981.
The Maori warriors leading the demonstration were impressive too. For Maori the signing two days before Waitangi Day was seen an insult due to no consultation on the TPPA with Maori or pakeha [New Zealanders of European descent]. [Note: Waitangi Day is an annual public holiday held on 6th February, and celebrates the signing of the Waitangi Treaty in 1840 between Māori chiefs and representatives of the British government granting Māori people the same rights as the British.]
The trade unions supported the demonstration, but unfortunately called no strikes or any kind of industrial action. The Labour leaders have opposed the TPPA on the grounds that it gives the right of overseas corporations to have a say on what legislation is passed but they still support free trade, i.e. capitalism! On this, with their contradictory stance, they confuse the working class and offer no perspective of socialism.
Meanwhile, John Key, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and leader of the National Party [Conservatives] since 2006, refused to go to Waitangi Day Celebrations at Waitangi this year as he would have been met by protestors.
The movement of the working class in New Zealand is re-awakening from a long slumber and the New Zealand economy is looking bad. New Zealand is definitely catching up with the rest of the world!