New Zealand

As the 2011 Rugby World Cup opens up in New Zealand we publish an interesting comment by Miles Lacey on the sharp class divide that was revealed during the 1981 (South African) Springbok Tour of the country. This was at a time when the Apartheid regime was still in power in South Africa. Wherever the – all white – South African team went it faced protests by angry workers and youth, and also the full force of the New Zealand police.

This year’s New Zealand perspectives document has just been produced, which should be read in conjunction with previous perspective documents as they are a continuation from them. In addition they should be read together with the latest World Perspective analysis and associated material from the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) and Socialist Appeal NZ.

Sixty years ago, on 14th February 1951, the New Zealand Waterside Workers Union implemented an overtime ban in support of their wage claim against the cartel of British shipping companies who controlled the most of New Zealand's wharves.

Socialist Appeal sends its deepest sympathies and stands in solidarity with the families of the 29 miners who died in the recent Pike River disaster, and the West Coast communities .

The recent earthquake that hit Christchurch in New Zealand, reveals on the one hand how a quake of the same strength as that that hit Haiti can have very different effects, depending on the level of economic development and the local infrastructure. No one was killed in New Zealand! In spite of this, problems remain, and as always it is the workers who are on the bottom rung of the ladder.

A taste of what may come in other countries is being provided by the conservative National Party government of New Zealand. It includes “fire at will” legislation and stringent tax increases. Workers have been protesting, but the unions must use all their muscle and prepare for a general strike, if they seriously want to stop these attacks.

New Zealand is affected by the same crisis that we see in other parts of the world, with sluggish growth, growing unemployment and austerity measures being introduced. This document looks at the particular crisis of New Zealand capitalism and underlines the tasks of the Marxists.

The recent national conference of the New Zealand Labour Party – held after their recent defeat in the elections – produced some interesting controversy around the question of what Labour should do if it gets back into office. The ideas of Marxism were present in the debate.

New Zealand society is entering an extremely turbulent period as the effects of the economic recession are felt. As previously mentioned in 2008 Perspectives New Zealand will not be immune from the global downturn. In fact the notion that our so-called “good economic fortune” in the past will save New Zealand from the worst excesses of the global downturn is evaporating before our eyes.


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The victory of the National Party at the polls was due to the bankruptcy of the right-wing Labour Party leadership that had no real meaningful reforms to offer workers. This resulted in the lowest turnout since 1978 and the second lowest turnout in a general election since 1902. A large proportion of workers didn't vote Labour or just didn't vote.

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The forthcoming elections in New Zealand have been overshadowed by the world financial meltdown and the oncoming recession, which have highlighted the huge level of debt in the country’s economy. This all puts at risk the very ability of any government to guarantee basic social reforms. In New Zealand as elsewhere the choice is between whittling down the welfare state or a radical socialist transformation of society.

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Prime Minister Helen Clark has called the general election for November 8th hoping to win a fourth term. The problem for the Labour Party is that it is well behind in the various opinion polls which give the National Party between an 8% and 18% lead over the Labour Party. With such a lead in the opinion polls the Labour Party is most likely to be defeated.

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New Zealand is clearly entering into recession with its economy shrinking in the first quarter of this year. "Statistics New Zealand" (SNZ) has provided the figures that confirm what most of us have known for sometime that indeed we are at the beginning of a recession.

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.


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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.