Fighting the same issues

17:00, Sep 18 2012
James Harris
CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Presidential candidate James Harris speaks to Glen Innes residents about the common struggles of the New Zealand and American working classes.

A candidate for the US presidential election has extended his campaign trail to visit New Zealand and found common ground in Glen Innes.

Los Angles native James Harris spoke at the Militant Labour Forum in Grafton last week.

He represents the Socialist Workers Party, which champions resistance by working people in face of the far-reaching world economic crisis.

Mr Harris met members of the Tamaki Housing Group which has been protesting the removal of state houses from northern Glen Innes.

"It's been an interesting trip. We're an international working class. Many of the struggles are the exact same struggles no matter where you go in the world. In America, the same type of thing is going on as here.

"In Chicago they took away the high rises in a particular area which they said were a breeding ground for crime. The building isn't committing the crime, the people are, but they tore down the building anyway and said they'd build houses for people.


"Then they built housing for very few and made it too expensive for the previous residents.

"It's all about preferred aims of the classes. One wants to reserve the best for themselves. It's striking how similar the complaints are around the world.

"We're faced with an economic crisis and this is all part of it and it's only going to get worse. The world does not need to be like that and I refuse to stand by and watch that happen," Mr Harris says.

Auckland Communist League spokesman Mike Tucker says the tour was an opportunity for working people to link up, plan and share ideas of how to fight for their own interests.

"It was important for the Glen Innes people to meet with him because they're people who have been involved in a struggle for their interests for some time and there was a need to share ideas and help unite."

Mr Harris also met with the Maritime Union and learned of Auckland's waterfront dispute.

Auckland University Students Union hosted him for inspiration on campaigns against fees hikes and in Ngaruawahia he visited the Horotiu meatworks to discuss its workers' lockout battle.

The 64-year-old veteran trade unionist has been active for more than four decades in the struggle for black civil rights, in mobilisations against imperialist wars from Vietnam to Iraq, and in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution.

He opposes the US-led war in Afghanistan, and supports the call to free Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot, and the protests against the deadly police assault on miners in South Africa.

East And Bays Courier