Anti-Capitalists offer alternative at elections
19 August 2004
Anti-Capitalists offer an alternative at the local government elections
In the greater Auckland region, the ACA is running Daphna Whitmore for mayor of Auckland city and Mark Muller for councillor in the Mangere ward of Manukau city. Daphna is a nurse as well as the National Secretary of the ACA and Mark a metal-store worker. He is also a unionist and on the executive of the National Distribution Union.
In the greater Wellington area, the ACA is running Steve Hay for mayor of Wellington city, Nick Kelly for mayor of Upper Hutt and Paul Hopkinson for mayor of Porirua. Steve is a film-maker and volunteer organiser with the Unite! union, the new union for low-paid workers and beneficiaries. He is also on the national executive of Unite! Nick is a former member of the Labour Party, who was expelled by them for opposing the invasion of Afghanistan. He is currently the campaigns officer of the Victoria University Students Association and an active member of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMTU). Paul currently teaches at Porirua College, one of the poorest high schools in the country and was formerly a factory worker. He recently successfully defended charges against him for burning the NZ flag at an antiwar protest.
In Christchurch, the ACA candidates are Sam Kingi for mayor and Chris Rigby for the Shirley-Papanui ward of the city council. Sam is a volunteer organiser for Unite!, and is also studying law at Canterbury University as well as working part-time at a service station. Chris is the senior union delegate for the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) at one of the city's biggest factories.
The ACA candidates are highlighting the two, interconnected wars being waged by the NZ ruling class.
One is the war on the oppressed peoples of the Third World, epitomised by the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. NZ is a junior imperialist power, allied with the United States, and helps oppress and rob the Third World.
The other is the war on workers' wages, conditions and living standards here at home. While less than 200 of the richest people in the country increased their wealth by nearly $4 billion last year, a 22 percent increase over the previous year, workers' wages only increased by 2.3 percent. This was less than inflation, so real wages actually fell.
The ACA message is that workers cannot effectively fight back against attacks on us here in NZ by our own ruling class and government unless we also oppose their attacks on the peoples of the Third World. We need to build solidarity on a global basis.
Our candidates epitomise the way these issues are interlinked by being activists in workplace struggles and in the anti-war movement. In particular, a number of our candidates have been heavily involved in organising cinema, fast food and petrol station workers into the Unite! union in Wellington, Christchurch and Oamaru, while also helping organise antiwar protests and arguing for an anti-imperialist perspective within these protests across the country.
As well as highlighting the 'big picture' issues of exploitation and war, the ACA will be taking a stand on local issues. For instance, in Christchurch there are proposals to pay councillors a salary six times the average annual income of people in the city. We will be opposing this, and we are also arguing against the new cut in the size of the council as this is an attack on local democracy. The idea seems to be that the role of the council is not to be any kind of even limited, representative body of the citizens, but a tiny elite board to manage the city as a business.
ACA candidates will also use their campaigns to support local struggles by workers.