Sunday, November 12, 2006

Remembering our comrade Piripi

Our comrade Piripi Pokaitara-Wikiriwhi was killed this time last year. He was about to go on holidays with his lover, Jen Carmichael. An SUV smacked into him- yet no one has been brought to justice. Months before, he had been on the Naked Bike Ride protesting the lack of public transport and the huge amount of resultant road deaths caused by cars in Auckland city.

This time of year will always be a sad time for us. Piripi was taken from us when he was in his prime- he was a leading organiser with the Unite Union and had built up a workplace army that was later to lead the Supersize My Pay struggle. Many delegates, activists and friends will never forget his charming friendliness, his boundless generosity and his passionate spirit to defend the poor and the victimised. We still miss him profoundly.

Piripi had also a massive thirst for culture and politics. He was one of the first signatories of the Workers Charter, was studying Maori language and culture at AUT, and had debated at several socialist forums out here in Onehunga. If Piripi had lived a longer life, he would have been one of the most tireless activists for the working class in Aotearoa. Our movement lost a great warrior and leader that day. And we lost our ambassador, our host and our friend, the man who always made everyone feel welcome and at home.

Ui mai koe ki ahau he aha te mea nui o te ao, Māku e kī atu he tangata, he tangata, he tangata!

Joe Carolan,

On behalf of Socialist Worker

Saturday 12 November 2006

Friday, November 03, 2006


Martin Luther King- "Inspiration"


Union leaders and activists from across the political spectrum are supporting tomorrow’s Climaction Carnival Against Climate Change, that will block Queen Street to demand free and frequent public transport as a way of cutting Auckland’s greenhouse gas pollution.

Auckland Green MP Sue Bradford today wished the organisers of Saturday’s Climaction all the best for their rally in Queen St to mark International Climate Change Day on Saturday.

“Lack of action by Government and industry means it’s time for the whole community to come together to raise awareness of the need to take serious sustained action on the issue now, and to talk together about solutions that we will actually make happen.
“The time for ambivalence and inaction is past, and the Green Party welcomes support from all quarters for its longterm campaign to get New Zealand to fulfil its international and planetary obligations to ‘turn down the heat.’

Auckland Regional councillor Robyn Hughes sent an Open Invitation to other elected local body representatives urging them to join a ClimAction "civil disobedience" carnival and debate on climate change in the middle of Queen St. "ClimAction is adopting Martin Luther King's tactics of peaceful civil disobedience to promote public debate and action on climate change, which is the human survival issue of the 21st century," said Robyn Hughes.
"Taking over a section of Queen St for a few hours will spotlight the central problem of greenhouse gas exhaust fumes.

"To those who might say an elected councillor should always obey the road rules, I would reply: 'Tackling climate change so that humanity survives into the next century is more important than breaching some road rules for a couple of hours. Anyway, if more decisive measures on global warming aren't taken, Queen St may be under water in a generation or two, and then we will be swimming, not obeying road rules.'

"By forewarning people that a section of Queen St near
Aotea Square will be a no-go area for vehicles for several hours from 1pm on Saturday, 4 November, motorists can avoid holdups by choosing an alternative route.

"I was elected to the
Auckland Regional Council on the RAM (Residents Action Movement) ticket," said Robyn Hughes. "Over the last few years, RAM has been campaigning for 'free and frequent buses' across our region, a call that has been meeting with growing public sympathy. So I embrace ClimAction's call for 'free and frequent public transport'.

"And RAM supports ClimAction's call for 'system change, not climate change'. We must make radical social changes if humanity and other species are to survive the unprecedented chaos of climate change."

NDU National Secretary Laile Harre also wished the Climaction protesters well on the day-

As awareness of climate change grows, the kind of TINA (there is no alternative) thinking that gave neo-liberalism the upper hand in the 80s and 90s must not be allowed to shut down a debate among the worlds people around the fair and democratic management of limited resources. Economists and management consultants will tell us that only the market can tackle this crisis. After years of market-driven waste and inequality, giving the market the power to fairly allocate the atmosphere would be like getting the Managing Directors of Foodstuffs and Progressive to set the minimum wage.

Fala Haulangi, a unionist active with the SFWU’s CLeanstart campaign for cleaners, spoke of her anger that many Pacific Islands will be completely flooded within decades-
I fully support the International Climate Change Day on Saturday for the following reasons:
1. As a Tuvaluan who lives in New Zealand, global warming has always been a concerm for me and my people because Tuvalu and its people are going to be the first victim of global warming. In 50 years time Tuvalu is going to disappear from this planet. Not because of our choice. This makes me angry and very sad beause we are going to be the first environmental refugees and are forced to go somewhere else which is not the same as HOME.
2. As a union organiser for Service & Food Workers Union / Clean Start campaign we support Climaction because we need free and frequent public transport in Auckland as an environmentally responsible policy that will have major benefits for the working poor who rely mainly on buses and cannot afford a car.
If we are serious about saving the environment, then it is time for the whole community to come together and do something. Talking time is over, it is time for Action Now.

Mike Treen, Auckland Secretary for the Unite Union and a leading activist with Global Peace and Justice Auckland, also pledged his support-
It is welcome that the need to confront global warming is becoming mainstream common sense. What is disturbing is that the solutions being offered - taxes and carbon trading - offer no way forward and will penalise the poor.
Carbon taxes will increase the price of petrol which will be paid for by those using company cars but hit workers who lack adequate public transport. The obvious start is to have a massive increase in public transport available at little or no cost to the user. When that is in place we can think of taxes to encourage greater use not before.
While the World Bank estimates the value of the global carbon market nearly doubled from $11 billion in 2005 to $21.5 billion in 2006, there was no equivalent global increase in carbon emission reductions. In fact, they argue, as the carbon market has soared, global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise - a stark indication that a more
pragmatic and direct approach to cutting emissions is urgently needed.
These "market-based" so-called solutions only entrench existing problems, enrich the already rich countries and individuals while discriminated against the poor. We need an alternative that penalised the corporate polluters while protecting the poor. That will require democratic social and economic planning on a national and international scale - the world can't be left to corporate markets to fix.

Finally, Joe Carolan, a central organiser with the Climaction Coalition and a member of Socialist Worker, warned the powers that be that this would be the first of many Climactions over the next few months to spur them into radical action-
Äl Gore is meeting the business elite of Auckland on November 14th. We think big business is the problem, not the solution to climate change, and we will be organising a people’s assembly outside the Business School where he is speaking, challenging Gore to come and talk to the people and debate why need a massive system change to halt climate change. Kyoto and greenwashed capitalism is not enough- we need a revolutionary transformation of economic and political priorities with in a decade. We invite people to this assembly as a chance to debate with Gore what possible solutions are needed to the many problems he raises in his otherwise excellent film.