Sunday, May 13, 2012

Farewell to William Peter Bradley, May Day 2012.

Our beloved  branch member William Peter Bradley passed away on 1st May 2012. Born on 26 November 1942, William, who was known to many of us for years as Peter, was a  tireless fighter for justice, and a champion both for people and for the environment.  With qualifications in town planning, sociology and architecture, William was way ahead of his time in promoting environmental concerns and relating them to social issues. One of the projects he was passionate about was protecting  the   Grafton gully cemetery from motorway extensions; and he was also a member of Corso. William practiced considerable kindness to those who knew him, and always had a friendly face, a cup of tea, or a room to stay in, for those came came to visit  him at his home in Coleridge Rd  across the road from the Grey Lynn supermarket, where he lived for many  decades.  A smoker, William suffered from emphysema in his later years and lived at  a residential village in  Mt Albert.  William was a pioneering researcher and prolific letter writer,  and had many letters published in the mainstream media.  A passage from a letter William wrote to his aunt in 1986 gives us a glimpse of this humanitarian and socially committed human being.

 William was farewelled by family and friends  at Grange Manor on Friday 4th May.  Our sympathies go out to his family. He will be greatly  missed.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

John and Paula: Keep your Hands off our Bodies and our Babies!

The Government has announced its plan to "offer"  "free" long term contraceptive devices such as implants or IUD's to beneficiary women and their 16 year old  daughters!  When this is combined  with the threat of having to  leave your 12 month old  baby  to do full time paid work ; or  the threat  of   losing  your  benefit if you don't ,  this is no "free" offer, but a coercive measure where the state is aiming to take control of women's bodies. 

We say to  John Key and Paula Bennett- keep your hands of our bodies and our babies!  If the government really wanted to help low income people to get contraception that they otherwise could not afford, they would  make it free for all  people, male and female,  both in and out of work;   and not target women and beneficiaries. The method   of contraception needs to be the choice of the person using it  -whether condoms, diaphragms, the pill, etc as well as the long term devices.  The  long term methods are known to have poor health side effects for some women and should not be forced upon women  simply because they are the only free methods or because the woman fears to be punished if she has a baby.

Mothering is working and is a tremendous contribution to society. We are raising the next generation of workers! In Australia all parents get a gift of a several thousand dollars when they have a child. This government is  discriminating against  the children of beneficiaries, treating them  as unwelcome and  as  second class citizens, indeed as hardly human.  This is an abuse of the human rights of babies and of mothers.  Paula Bennett openly says that the work requirement for mothers of babies is a penalty for having the baby! And she has not ruled out compulsary contraception in the future- just saying that we "sort of" aren't yet at that stage. 
When children up North search for food in chicken scraps bins and antibiotics bottles, 
we need to remove this government that sacrifices the welfare of women and children for the sake of corporate thieves!

Hey There John Key, Raising Kids is Working! Lively May Day Protest.

Members of Waitemata Unite , the Service and Food Workers Union, Occupy Auckland, Mana Waitakere,  Feminist Action , The Auckland Women's Centre, Citizens Against Privatisation, The Water Pressure Group, the Home Birth Society, and other unionists and community  members gathered together on May Day, International Workers Day;  to celebrate the work of Mothers and to protest against the Social Security Amendment Bill which  will require mothers who have a child on a benefit to be available for paid work when their baby is just 12 months old.

The gathering at Aotea Square, and the pram parade up to WINZ Queen St was  the first of actions around the world  in support of the Global General Strike called by Occupy Wall St.
Although the strike was largely symbolic at this point, it acknowledges that our labour (whether paid or unpaid) is our power, and that if we withdraw our labour for long enough, and get organised;  we can bring the capitalist system to its knees.

Several women spoke about the importance of mothers being able to raise their babies and not be forced to give them up to day care;  and of the need for recognition of the valuable work the mothers do.

  About one hundred Mothers , grandmothers and activists with   small children pushed strollers with babies and teddies up the street, leading the other  protestors and unionists carrying   colourful banners and placards. We sang  "Hey there John Key, Hey there John Key, Do you hear? Do you hear? Raising kids is working , Raising kids is working, Is  that clear? Is that clear?"  (to the tune of Frere Jacques). Chants included: " Calling mothers, calling children, Join together, Join your union" and "Welfare Rights are under attack, Stand Up Fight Back."

At WINZ  a delegation  went up the path to the foyer and asked to be allowed to go in for five minutes to give teddies to the children (who often have to wait for hours with no toys to play with)  and to give some flyers to the beneficiaries about the latest welfare changes.  However Hilda Rash , the manager of WINZ Queen St, a policeman and a security guard , would not let us in. One woman was eventually allowed in without any flyers   but was grabbed extremely roughly by a policeman when she tried to tell the people in there  about the protest outside. She suffered painful cuts to her hands. Many of the protestors were extremely upset about this violence towards a peaceful protestor; and upset in the first place  about  not being allowed  into a public building.

At about 2.15 pm  protestors  from the foyer joined with those  on the street  to  tell them what had happened, and some more people  addressed the crowd. The last speaker, Hone Popata,  encouraged people to join the  Aotearoa is not for Sale Hikoi which was on its way to Wellington (and which included another welfare protest in Wellington  a few days later). We ended  with more chants led by Hone:  "Community rights are under attack , Stand up fight back,"
"Babies' rights are under attack, Stand up Fight Back"
and a call -response
"I say "Wahine", "You say "Toa " "
"Wahine'  .."Toa"   'Wahine'....."Toa"
'I say "Tama"  "You say "Toa" "
"Tama'.... 'Toa"

The whole event was filmed by Redstar on live stream and can be viewed here: