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Solidarity with the Pike River Miners and their families

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Friday's explosion at the Pike River Mine, and the unknown fate of the 29 miners still below ground, has been the catalyst for a number of emotions. Compassion and love, between members of the effected community; hope, for the families and friends of the workers; and anxiety, of that which is unknown. Our sympathies and thoughts go out to all of those fraught with such emotions, and hope that their loved ones can return to them soon.

Another emotion we cannot overlook is anger. Legitimate anger at an economic system that has seen such accidents occur again and again. Anger at an economic system which has seen generations of miners perish below the earth, simply to earn a living and get by in the world. Anger at an economic system which sees the pitfalls of profit fall squarely on the worker's shoulders, while the CEO's and shareholders sit in their plush offices and measure losses in terms of figures and dollars.

Links: Christchurch fundraiser | Workers Party statement | Socialist Aotearoa statement

The owners of Pike River Mine should not be spared such anger. Staff had concerns over safety in the mine. As recent as three weeks ago, the Pike River mine was flooded with methane gas. "Two to three weeks ago the mine fans were out and the whole mine was gassed out. It's a gassy mine. When the fans stopped it took 20 hours to clear the mine." A mining expert claimed miners had bored through "high flow methane holes" without any risk assessment conducted or procedure on how to manage gas flow from the hole in place. Another mining expert, who visited the mine last year, noted that operating standards were "extremely poor".

The fact that the mine was also built on conservation land, and on a fault line, cannot be overlooked. For those in power, where's there's coal there's money — regardless of the consequences. 29 miners and their families are now feeling those consequences.

Only a few months ago Gerry Brownlee had the nerve to tell us that mining in the 21st Century is clean, safe and technologically advanced. Pike River Mine is said to be one of the most advanced in New Zealand. Yet nothing has changed. The few, who run the show, still trumpet from above the benefits of mining to their economy, while the workers suffer. Miners continue to work in unsafe and hazardous conditions, and pay the price when things go wrong. Families loose their loved ones — CEO's loose a few nights sleep.

We live in an upside down world. The means to support and sustain a way of life free from such hazardous employment exist. There is plenty of food for all, and the means to provide everyone on this planet with all the necessities for a decent life exist today, though much of this capacity lies idle or is squandered by the capitalist class. The Pike River explosion, and others like it, don't need to happen. That it happened at all is a tragedy. For it to happen again would be a farce. We must not let it happen again.

Comments

Workable economic alternatives to coal mining?

My heart goes out to all the people down that hole, and to the people in their communities. As this article suggests, to understand how this tragedy occurred, it's important to understand how the Coast economy works. 

The situation on the Coast is similar in many ways to the winding down of the UK mining coal industry under in the 80s. The industry is dangerous to the workers, and it's products are environmentally destructive, but for the Coasters, coal means jobs. The closing of mines would take a huge bite of our their already struggling local economies, which suffer twice from their geographical isolation, in the scarcity of alternative employment, and the high cost of living drive by the high cost of importing goods from the east coast.

As well as the economic issues, there is also cultural issues. Mining jobs are relatively skilled, and well-paid "real" jobs for manly men, not the effete, minimum-wage, service industry jobs offered by tourism. Most Coast men are not metrosexuals like those in Auckland, Wellington, and to a lesser extent, Christchurch, who prefer a nice clean barista job to working in a filthy coal mine. To attack mining, however justified intellectually, is also to attack a major part of the traditions and the cultural identities of Coasters, and unsurprisingly they take offence.

The alternative to extractive industries (forestry, mining, farming) on the Coast is not more cafes, backpackers, and art galleries. Yes, these have their place, and to the degree that tourist numbers make them viable, good luck to anyone who chooses to go down that road. But most workers from the extractive industries are not natural service workers. Neither are they computer programmers, or likely to get jobs from the 'knowledge wave' in any immediate or tangible fashion. What the coast needs is development that replaces declining extractive industry with sustainable production; replaces industrial agribusiness with organic farming; replaces coal mining with low-impact renewable energy schemes, replaces clearfelling of forest and corporate dairying with farming of hemp, bamboo, jute and other high-yield, high-production crops that can supply paper pulp, building materials etc instead of using trees.

Arguably indifference to the lives and well-being of Coast-based workers on the part of distant decision-makers has played a major part in the tragedy unfolding at Pike River. Economic development fora where Coasters could gather as communities, and collaboratively plan their new industries around their own needs, and aspirations, could be an alternative to all Coast industry being driven by corporate structures, run from Christchurch, or further afield. 

They will probably use this

They will probably use this tragedy as fuel to push for more 'safer' open cast mines.

NO MINING

If they push for open-cast mining, Gerry and his boyz will see plenty of angry faces at his desk/bed.

Yes, I can understand what

Yes, I can understand what you are trying to say.But mining needs to be legislatively 'banned' now-because of historical events that have taken human lives.To try to cover this grief up with 'mining is good for our economy' is backward.

 

Extractive practices need just not replacing but need to be completely taken over by sustainable organic food/material production and hemp is a great idea for a product that has many uses!:-)) that if its production capabilites are embraced fully could be economically fantastic for Aotearoa....BUT....WHO is going to implement these sustainable practices now?

We need policy analyists that have real connections to the Earth, to Papatuanuku possibly Rasta values etc etc etc

Sara www, the last thing the

Sara www, the last thing the West Coast needs is Rasta values etc etc etc. Your, in my opinion, uninformed comment, is not helpful at all. Maybe it would be good for you to talk to some people who were/are part of the Save Happy Valley Campaign on the West Coast. Some of them came to West Coast in 2004/5 with similar attitudes to yours now - and they have learnt a lot!

Mining

 

 

'Ununiformed comment' up your arse man.

The earth is rotting-what do we do-take a soft approach-nah man, get on the right boat.

The time for extreme radicalism is now, and I support those who involved in this, FULL STOP.

Like I said, Brownlee and his boys aint listening-look at what they're planning to do off the East Coast man?Drilling.

 

Wake up man.

These are important points

These are important points about how this massive industry is not just about corporate profit (which it is), but there is also a huge drive from locals that WANT to work in the mines.  I have lived in Blackball for the past year & on the Coast  for the past 5 years or so.  The grief here is palpable, you can just feel it everywhere you go before a word is said.  It's been an upsetting & unreal week (with the masses of media certainly adding to that).

Coal is dirty, the mining is destructive, and the whole system is completely unsustainable.  Solid Energy, Pike, & all the rest are driven by profit & care little about environmental effects (beyond PR, of course).  Yet there is this strange sort of social attitude about mining that gives a lot of respect & admiration towards the miners.  There's PRIDE in being a miner, there are links through the generations...it's almost akin to being a soldier!  Those who have died will be remembered as heros & I don't actually expect there to be a drop in those wanting to mine at all.  Coal trucks from the Roa mine have been regularly chugging through Blackball, several times a day, all week (they started Monday morning, as usual, without missing a beat).

It's hard to be critical of the mining industry or the system in which coal mining thrives without locals feeling like you're being critical of the miners.  The way they died was horrible, I feel for them so deeply.  They needed an income, they worked hard to support themselves & their families.  So much of the population here feels like mine companies are providing for them...they are providing local jobs & it doesn't seem to matter if these jobs are actually incredibly dangerous & unhealthy. 

So to confront this issue is far more complicated than I would have thought before living here myself.  There is definitely plenty of room for criticism of the capitalistic system in which situations like this can happen again, and again, and again in the name of profit.  But there is also a local culture that is pretty solid. 

I am curious to see what type of coal mining criticisms will come out next week.  I am trying to hold some optimism that this tragedy will encourage people to really looking at what coal mining is doing to local communities.  But I also know that this winter I almost had to hide the fact that I didn't burn coal because of the blank & confused looks I received.

Mining

Kia Ora,

 

Yup your comment is fantastic...solidarity with you. S.

These are important points

These are important points about how this massive industry is not just about corporate profit (which it is), but there is also a huge drive from locals that WANT to work in the mines.  I have lived in Blackball for the past year & on the Coast  for the past 5 years or so.  The grief here is palpable, you can just feel it everywhere you go before a word is said.  It's been an upsetting & unreal week (with the masses of media certainly adding to that).

Coal is dirty, the mining is destructive, and the whole system is completely unsustainable.  Solid Energy, Pike, & all the rest are driven by profit & care little about environmental effects (beyond PR, of course).  Yet there is this strange sort of social attitude about mining that gives a lot of respect & admiration towards the miners.  There's PRIDE in being a miner, there are links through the generations...it's almost akin to being a soldier!  Those who have died will be remembered as heros & I don't actually expect there to be a drop in those wanting to mine at all.  Coal trucks from the Roa mine have been regularly chugging through Blackball, several times a day, all week (they started Monday morning, as usual, without missing a beat).

It's hard to be critical of the mining industry or the system in which coal mining thrives without locals feeling like you're being critical of the miners.  The way they died was horrible, I feel for them so deeply.  They needed an income, they worked hard to support themselves & their families.  So much of the population here feels like mine companies are providing for them...they are providing local jobs & it doesn't seem to matter if these jobs are actually incredibly dangerous & unhealthy. 

So to confront this issue is far more complicated than I would have thought before living here myself.  There is definitely plenty of room for criticism of the capitalistic system in which situations like this can happen again, and again, and again in the name of profit.  But there is also a local culture that is pretty solid. 

I am curious to see what type of coal mining criticisms will come out next week.  I am trying to hold some optimism that this tragedy will encourage people to really looking at what coal mining is doing to local communities.  But I also know that this winter I almost had to hide the fact that I didn't burn coal because of the blank & confused looks I received.

You make some good points -

You make some good points - particularly the last sentence, but your description of the coast economy is a bit of a caricature, similar to that used by conservative politicians on the coast.

Firstly, the coast isn't so different to anywhere else, though coasters are encouraged to believe it is. 'Distant decision-makers' impact on all workers, and the distance is more related to class than physical difference. You can find an equal disdain and indifference from the bosses for the people working a few stories down in an office block in Wellington as that of Auckland investors for West Coast workers - even if the former doesn't translate into immediate physical danger.

Local politicians on the coast use the strong coaster identity to distract from class and political differences. Sometimes on the coast you wouldn't imagine any other workers in the country have been put through the wringer by neo-liberalism - reactionary politicians portray every attack on workers as an attack on the West Coast as a whole, and on the West Coast alone.

Secondly, in much of the coast, logging and mining are insignificant and the economy is based on tourism and dairying, and people are doing rather well out of it (so much so that there are major labour and housing shortages in the summer season). Around the Buller region there's a conservative lobby pushing for the continuation of extractive industries which also likes to characterise alternatives as 'effete' - all the better to encourage anger at those who oppose mining and logging (there may well be many coasters who would be happy to work in an art gallery or a cafe, but are put off by the thought of appearing 'unmanly', and many West Coast tourism jobs - helicopter pilots, glacier guiding, track maintenance, etc. can hardly be described as 'effete').

I agree that workers on the West Coast need to plan new industries collaboratively, but without capital, planning is about as far as they can go. I wouldn't imagine they'll plan to compete with Bangladeshi workers in the production of hemp or jute, though.

Cheers

Sam Buchanan

Sorry, that last comment was

Sorry, that last comment was referring to Strypey's piece, just to be clear.

The cultural realities of the Coast

Kia ora koutou

Sam, my comments about the Coast are based on my own experiences. I have whaanau there, both in Greymouth, and on farms, and I've been spending time with people there since I was a child.

"distance is more related to class than physical difference"

That's an ideological claim that doesn't fit my observations. Yes, class is a factor, but class distinctions are more stratified in larger populations. In a large city, bosses and their families may have no social contact with workers or their families. In small towns, everyones rub shoulders in the same shops and schools, reads the same newspapers etc, because the population isn't large enough to have more than one. Also, in a geographically isolated place like the Coast, more often than not people are related, either by blood, or by marriage, or through longstanding kinships and inter-family alliances.

This doesn't stop erase class distinctions completely, or stop class interests from skewing their relationships, as the conservative politicians and industry managers claim they do. But it's hard to be as coldly indifferent to the life or death of a worker when their kids go to the same class at school or they are a cousin by marriage etc. Geographically distant shareholders, CEOS, and upper management can be that coldy indifferent, fund risky mines, and sack safety inspectors, without being socially accountable over the PTA fundraising dinner table. To ignore that there are more factors at play here than purely class factors is to deny observable reality in favour of pet ideology, which is an obstacle to coming up with realistic solutions.

>> many West Coast tourism jobs - helicopter pilots, glacier guiding, track maintenance, etc. can hardly be described as 'effete' <<

True, but you can't deny there is less money to create these jobs than is brought in by extractive industries, and less job security. For as long as there is coal to mine, and trees to cut down, extractive industries can offer fulltime jobs for years at a time. The jobs you describe tend to be piecework or contract. Surges in fossil fuel prices, and the impact of the world economy going into energy descent, may mean fewer tourists, with less disposable cash, and less government funding. The funding for those jobs can easily slow to a trickle, or dry up completely.

>> I wouldn't imagine they'll plan to compete with Bangladeshi workers in the production of hemp or jute, though. <<

I don't think they need to. It might be that they can get value-added products (rope, buildings materials etc) to market around the rest of the island cheaper than they can be imported from Bangladesh, especially as energy descent kicks in. But I'm thinking more about ways they can produce for their own bioregional needs, and reduce their dependence on imports, and consequently their need to run extractive industries (including industrial farming) to bring in cash to pay for those imports.

Strypes

"my comments about the Coast

"my comments about the Coast are based on my own experiences"

So are mine.

You seem to have missed the point of my comment about distance being related to class, as you are saying the same thing as me - that the 'distant decision-makers' may be a long way away (in the case of the coast) or very close (in the case of Wellington). My point was that the indifference on the part of distant-decision makers, that you referred to in your first comment wasn't something unique to the West Coast, but something that impacts on all workers.

I'd say its a moot point as to whether changes in the world economic situation mean that tourists find it too expensive to come to the West Coast, or that shipping coal and timber to Asia becomes uneconomic. If oil prices do surge, then the demand for steel, and hence coal, will also drop.

My point about hemp is merely that, for all the wondorous qualities attributed to it by some, it hasn't proved a particularly rewarding crop for those that currently grow it.

Cheers

Sam

Distance and economies

>> My point was that the indifference on the part of distant-decision makers, that you referred to in your first comment wasn't something unique to the West Coast, but something that impacts on all workers. <<

Yes, I agree, but my point is that the nature of the "distance" (social or geographical) makes a big difference to the solution. Decision-makers on the Coast do not have the luxury of the social "distance" available in big cities, so as I suggested to Lentil, they would be less likely to fire safety inspectors etc than shareholders in Christchurch. Thus re-localising decision-making could improve the lot of workers on the Coast, without having to abolish capitalism first (although as communities get a taste for collective self-management, that could follow).

Making the management of major Wellington employers live in Wellington wouldn't have the same effect, because although it would remove the geographical distance, the social distance could easily remain. Devolving power over city council funding decisions to community boards, preferably operating through participatory budgeting processes, might be a way to achieve a similar effect in the cities. I think it's important to be clear that these are different problems, requiring different solutions.

>> If oil prices do surge, then the demand for steel, and hence coal, will also drop. <<

True, and I should make it clear I'm not arguing that the Coast should continue depending on dirty, unsustainable industries, just trying to shed some light on why they seem to want to. My point is that replacing an unsustainable blue-collar economy with an unsustainable green-collar economy is pointless and short-sighted, and Coasters are smart enough to reject it as such. For the communities on the Coast to survive in the medium-to-long term, they will need to transition from a predominantly import/ export economy to a mostly self-sufficient bioregional economy, which may include growing crops like hemp for local use.

Hemp is easy to pick on because of it's association with the social prejudice against marijuana smokers, which is why I also mentioned bamboo and jute. I'll be the first to admit I'm not an expert horticulturist, and there may be plants (perhaps even native ones) more suited to growing in that bioregion, and more useful for the same sorts of applications (fibre for paper, clothing, and composite building materials, rope and string, bicycle frames, bioplastics, biofuels etc).

>> My point about hemp is merely that, for all the wondorous qualities attributed to it by some, it hasn't proved a particularly rewarding crop for those that currently grow it. <<

Obviously developing a hemp industry from scratch requires more than getting the government to approve highly restrictive trial crops, which is all that's happened so far. What's needed is machinery for turning the raw hemp into its various useful forms, which requires people to invest time and resources. Understandably they are hesitant to do that while the crops being produced are only small-scale trials, that could be stopped by the government at any time.

Other crops that aren't associated with recreational drugs might be easier to develop a sustainable industry around, but that's not going to happen overnight either. The point is that offering such industries as long term alternatives to coal mining are both more realistic than eco-tourism, and maybe an easier pill for Coasters to swallow, especially when the point is made that such industries could be more easily controlled by their communities than capital-intensive operations like mining.

WHY IS ANDREW LITTLE DEFENDING PIKE RIVER COAL?

While an increasingly befuddled operation continues its attempt to rescue the twenty nine men trapped in the Pike River mine, politicians and union leaders alike are rushing to the defence of the mining company.

While geologists warned of the danger of gas explosions at the mine some three years ago, both National and Labour politicians have moved on to suggest that the mining company is not at fault.

While the Prime Minister has said that there will be 'several inquiries' when the crisis is over, Gerry Brownlee, the Minister of Energy, has been quick to say that Pike River Coal (PRC) has 'an absolute focus on health and safety'. The emerging details do not support Brownlee's view but he is a strong proponent of increased mining in New Zealand. He has been forced had to back down on plans to mine on conservation land in the face of widespread public protests.

Labour's Damien O'Conner, another politician on friendly terms with the mining industry, has suggested that no one as to blame and that the disaster is 'just one of these things that the West Coast unfortunately has had to get used to over the years'.

In other words disasters like the one playing out right now are just a 'natural phenomena' that no-no one is responsible for. Perhaps O'Connor has forgotten that the 1967 disaster at the state-owned Strongman mine in Runanga, which killed 19 people, was caused by two breaches of safety regulations. The Government was ordered to pay compensation to the families.

Disgracefully the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), which represents some eighty PRC employees, has gone into bat for the company's owners.

National secretary Andrew Little told the New Zealand Herald yesterday there was 'nothing unusual about Pike River or this mine that we've been particularly concerned about'.

He told TVNZ'x Close Up that underground mining was inherently unsafe and the risk of gas explosions, particularly on the West Coast, was high.

While the industry was aware of the risks and took the necessary precautions, unfortunately these kinds of incidents still happened, he argued.

All workers at the mining site should be seriously concerned that the EPMU has such a benevolent view of the safety standards at the mining site - although that hasn't stopped Labour leader Phil Goff from praising the EPMU in Parliament.

Andrew Little's support for PRC flies in the face of the emerging expert opinion.

An Australian gas drainage engineer, who wishes to remain anonymous and who visited the site last year has said operating standards were 'extremely poor'.

The Australian expert, who still has close contacts with miners at Pike River, said he had been told the mine was flooded with methane gas about three weeks ago.

He says miners had bored through 'high flow methane holes' without any risk assessment conducted or procedure on how to manage gas flow from the hole in place.

The Australian says that PRC has not yet implemented a gas drainage drilling regime that can relieve the pressure when there is a a build up of gas by drilling a hole in the coal seam.

His comments have been backed up by a world-renowned New Zealand mining safety expert who said the explosion at Pike River should never have happened.

'In developed countries like the United States and New Zealand we shouldn't be having these kinds of accidents," the New Zealand expert told the New Zealand Herald.

The New Zealand Herald has quoted Gerry Morris of Greymouth, a former writer for Coal magazine, who says he has 'heard regularly' from contractors at the mine 'over the last two or three years that this mine is unsafe, there's far too much gas, there's going to be a disaster here one day'.

It now appears that PRC has been under pressure to increase its revenue and extract coal faster. PRC recorded cumulative net losses after tax for the period July 2006 to June 2010 amounting to $54.1 million.

A picture is emerging of an under-pressure mining compnay that may of compromised operational safety standards in order to generate more revenue.

Great post, thank you.Jared

Great post, thank you.

Jared

Accodring to the latest

Accodring to the latest reports, there was a further explosion this afternoon and all 29 miners are dead.

mining in general

 

 

Surely 29 deaths from mining would be enough now to stop ALL MINING in Aotearoa?

 

If not, we are living in a country run by morons.

As we learned this afternoon,

As we learned this afternoon, the rescue we hoped for will not take place. Because of a second major explosion the miners at the Pike river site are all almost certainly dead.

Hard questions remain to be answered and there will be a struggle for the truth to see the light.

 As that inevitable struggle unfolds, there are two positive ways workers can respond to this mass killing. One is to donate to the relief fund for the bereft families and community.

 The other way is for organised labour to get its bottle back, so that we're better organised to prevent future fatal industrial accidents  killing our friends, sons and daughters.

The union role in the Pike river disaster has been marginal. The one time it was openly advanced, the boss class closed ranks and drew their claws.

 Senior Cabinet Ministers rounded on Australian journalists covering the Pike River coal mine crisis, labelling their questions "disgraceful" and branding one a "tosspot".

Police Minister Judith Collins this afternoon heaped scorn upon Ean Higgins, from The Australian, for some questions he asked at a media conference this morning.

"Frankly, those journalists need to sit down and think about what they're actually doing. What they are doing is they are cheapening the work of other journalists working in Greymouth and they are absolutely not respecting the terrible time the people of Greymouth are going through," Collins said.

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee earlier blasted Higgins as "boorish" for asking why a "local country cop" was leading the rescue operation.

Collins said the question was "disgraceful".

What caused all this rukuss?

Foul mouthed Australian Ean Higgins had employed the "u" word.

 Higgins  asked why Superintendent Gary Knowles was heading the rescue operation instead of a mining union.

Police superintendent Knowles then asserted that the disaster "wasn't a union matter". 

If Knowles is right on that, then unions are irrelevant and should stop collecting dues and shut up shop.

If Knowles is wrong, Kiwi unions need to find the guts to stand up and show why we deserve to take up space.


 

An EPMU fund for the families

An EPMU fund for the families was mentioned on Radio NZ this morning. Does anybody know more about that? Couldn't find any information on the EPMU website. Cheers

EPMU fund

I'm not sure about the EPMU fund, but it definitley exists as the TEU has already given $1000. I've asked for more details and will pass them on to you when they get back to me.

I'm feeling really fortunate that my family had worked on the trains and not in the mines. But its such a small community that even 30+ yrs after my family left the coast the names of the older miners are still too familar for some.

"Kiwi unions need to find the

"Kiwi unions need to find the guts to stand up and show why we deserve to take up space."

Really so how much SAR experience does your typical union leader have?

Don't know about unions

Don't know about unions running SAR (but then how much mine rescue operation experience do the NZ police have?), but the unions need to get on the ball on safety issues.

They did vaguely lobby for worker-elected inspectors a few years back, after the two mining fatalities in 2006, but mining companies opposed the idea (along with most of the other proposals for a stricter safety regime), and it went nowhere.

The Department of Labour's 'Summary of Public Submissions on Discussion Paper Improving health and safety hazard management in the underground mining industry' is worth a look to see the various industry player's positions.

See: http://www.dol.govt.nz/consultation/underground-mining/underground-mining-report-02.asp

Sam Buchanan

Greenies

 No use you greenies mouthing off on here,trying to dodge the blame.Its you GREENIES that caused the disaster,not the greedy capitalists.If you lot hadnt opposed an open cast mine,those 29 men would still be alive today.

 

               FUCK THE GREENS

no, opencast wasn't an option

no, opencast wasn't an option here. The coal is too deep and the terrain too steep. What failed the miners was lax or broken gas monitoring systems coupled with a government/industry move to shed safety inspectors to save money.

Profit and ideology killed those miners, not 'greenies'.

Idiot.

Idiot.

EPMU fund

If anyone wants to make a donation to the families through the EMPU...

Kiwibank 38-9011-0165987-00

Cheques made out to "EPMU Pike River Families Support Trust" can also be sent by post, care of EPMU, PO Box 14-277, Kilbirnie, Wellington 6241.

harrumph.

The Pike River disaster is a tragedy.  If lax safety standards were the cause, then this will come out in the Royal Commission of inquiry endorsed by the EMPU, or one of the four other inquiries being held into the matter.  If negligence is found, no doubt the negligent will be held accountable.  But it's not appropriate to use the deaths of 29 men to segway into an anachronistic Marxist class warfare agenda.  Methane caused the explosion, not capitalism.

Interesting debates around

Interesting debates around Capitalism aside, I think one important point brought up by Scott that's been overlooked is the idea of workers' control — or more specifically, how far away the comments and actions of the EPMU hierarchy are from this concept. Andrew Little's defense of Pike River Coal is a far cry from the past union movement Scott refers to, and light years away from contemplating the idea of workers' control in the future (sadly).

I wonder how the rank and file of the EPMU feel with regard to Little's stance. It will be interesting to see if such a preventable accident, and the EPMU's reaction to it, will be the catalyst for more militancy within the union itself and on the coast in general. I hope workers don't buy the tripe peddled to them from Labour that death is part and parcel of life on the coast...

Oh, Beyond Resistance raised $100 to be donated to the family of the sole Blackball miner killed. We have a wee connection with Blackball, having been there for a few May days, and in my own personal capacity, through the Blackball Memorial. It's not a lot of money, but every little bit helps.

Jared

 

'Scott your a soft cock.I eat

'Scott your a soft cock.I eat your insides with my witch tongue.'

Oh for goodness' sake. There are adults trying to have a discussion here, you know. If you're going to fantasise about planting bombs in brothels and randomly attacking soldiers at least own up to it by using your real name, rather than falsely suggesting that groups like Unite and the Maori Party and the Workers Party would have any sympathy for such ideas. Indymedia has a reputation for infantilism because of the antics of people like you.

Getting back to real life: here's an interesting report on the push for worker control in Venezuela:

http://www.zcommunications.org/venezuelan-national-workers-union-calls-for-greater-worker-control-by-james-suggett

The trade union movement is trying to expand worker control, and criticisng the government for dragging its heels. The most notable part of the report for me is the revelation that eighty percent of poorer Venezuelans support the notion of worker control. Jared rightly criticises the conservatism of union leaders like Andrew Little, but the fact is that the likes of Little fill a vacuum left by the absence of rank and file initiative in many unions. A lot of trade union leaders at branch if not national level are actually way to the left of their memberships, and trying to get those memberships to be more active. The notion of workers' control of industry seems very exotic to us, but the success of the Venezuelan trade union movement and left in popularising the concept proves that it can be something more than the fantasy of left-wing intellectuals.

Fair point, but the lack of

Fair point, but the lack of rank and file initiative doesn't arise from nowhere — the fact is a culture of dependancy, and union structures themselves, have contributed to such a decline in rank and file action. Of course this a sweeping generalisation, as unions like Unite seem to be combatting that culture.

Jared

Several comments hidden

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cheers
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