Victory in Dunedin- Time to Occupy the Streets

Last night Occupy Otepoti achieved a major victory. The Dunedin City Council made their first real attempt to squash the movement by formally evicting us – they gave us notice at around 3pm saying we had to be out by 8pm. In a few hours the Occupy movement mobilised hundreds of people to defend the protest. At its height at around 8-8:15pm there were 300-400 people in the octagon.

At Least 150 people marched around the Octagon chanting ‘Whose Streets? Our Streets!’ and ‘Shame on the 1%! Shame on the DCC!’. We then had speeches and the largest general assembly Otepoti has seen. The chant ‘O- C –C- U- P- Y, What does that spell, OCCUPY!’ filled the city centre.

The police force has refused to act on the Council’s eviction notice. They released a statement saying they are going to take people’s ‘right to peaceful protest’ into consideration. They know that there will be more and more people coming to defend the occupation and that they will have to use violence to remove us, like in Melbourne and Sydney. No one wants to see that happen.

We also need to counter attack. We need to organise a march and sit in of the DCC CEOs office. How dare this unelected bureaucrat try and evict us. Occupy needs to congratulate the sensible stance of the police force while making sure everyone in the city knows that it is not the elected council officials that make the decisions – but actually the 1%ers making backrooms deals in the corridors of the bureaucracy.

It is time that the Occupy movement takes our spirit of resistance to the streets. We should leaflet every house in the city explaining the where occupy came from, what we are fighting for, and encourage people to join up and participate in upcoming events.

Te Mana party has the clearest policies, representing many of the demands of our movement. The Hone Heke Tax (1% tax on financial transactions), bring back the right to strike, higher minimum wage, no oil drilling, feed the children, free education and health care... the list goes on. We can door knock every home in the city and talk to people about becoming part of the movement. We need to be at every election forum from now up until the election where we can take the energy from the octagon out to local communities and bring back the experience and support of those same people.

We need to take the spirit of resistance into the workplaces and factories of the city. There is an ongoing struggle at Hillside Workshops in South Dunedin. We need to make a leaflet outlining how the Occupy movement supports these workers and distribute it in the Factory. Through our links with Unite union we can approach every fast food worker in the City and explain what the movement is about and how they can get more organised in their workplaces. Furthermore, there is the ongoing struggle of PACT workers organised by the SFWU and PSA who are only being offered a 1% pay rise.

We need to make it clear to the workers of this city that this is a movement for them. That the occupation supports working people in their collective struggle for better living conditions. That this is a movement that can provide serious pressure on the employers – they are the 1% after all.

The possibilities are endless. We could initiate a campaign for free public transport by talking to every bus driver and helping them get organised to fight for better wages – but also free buses. Ultimately it is the working class, those people who make the wealth and make the system go around, that could have the power to change this system. Camping out in the Octagon is not enough.

If we want to fill the octagon with people, if we want 10,000 people to rally to defend the occupation on a weekday, or any day for that matter, that means strikes! It is through workers withdrawing their labour that our movement can really strike a blow against this system that puts profits before people.

A movement strong enough to challenge the power of the 1%, the employers and the government, will take a long time to grow. There was a growing strike wave over years in Egypt before the revolution earlier this year. However we have already started that process by building links with the PACT workers.

If we want to build a movement that will make the ruling class, the 1%, tremble in fear then it means taking the spirit of resistance the Occupation out to the community and into the workplaces. We have a nothing to lose but our chains!

Yours for the Revolution,

Derwin Smith,

International Socialist Organisation.


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