||Issue No. 147||09 August 2002|
A Call to Action
Interview: Save Our Souls
Unions: Rats With Wings
Bad Boss: If The Boot Fits
History: Political Bower Birds
International: No More Business as Usual
Corporate: The Seven Deadly Sins of Capitalism
Review: Prepare To Bend
Satire: Bush Boosts Sharemarket Confidence: Shares his Cocaine Stash
Ten Click Walker 'Unfit for Work'
Casino Workers Overtime Jackpot
Abbott’s Task Force “Rank Hypocrisy”
Shipping Policy Blamed for Reef Damage
Combet Pushes Consultative Vehicle
Maternity Leave for Pacific Workers
Magistrate Endorses Health and Safety Rights
Contracts a Thorn in Workers' Side
Fringe Success for Workers’ Pick
The Locker Room
Week in Review
Labor Council of NSW
Letters to the Editor
Fraser No Workers' Hero
It's hard to know what was more sickening to read in Workers Online #146 - reading Malcolm Fraser's bleatings about refugees or reading that he had been invited to address the AMWU National Conference. It's not that I'm anti-refugee. On the contrary. Rather, I have a good enough memory to recall what Fraser did as a Liberal Prime Minister - and I have maintained the rage.
Does anyone remember Medibank, the national health insurance scheme introduced by the Labor government in 1975? Fraser came to office promising to retain it, since it was so massively popular. He then spent the next few years slicing it up piece by piece, till nothing remained but a publicly owned private health fund. The ALP had to start again with Medicare when it was elected in 1983.
Well, how about "monetarism" and the massive attacks that Fraser tried on the public sector during his term of office? He wasn't able to make much headway due to stout resistance from the community & from public sector workers, but his failure wasn't from the want of trying.
And what about the workers? Fraser spent his term of office arguing in the Arbitration Commission for workers to get pay rises less than the rate of inflation (while simultaneously nobbling the Prices Justification Tribunal) & even descended to arguing often for "zero indexation". That is, he wanted workers' wages to remain stagnant while saying "let 'em rip" to prices in the supermarket. And we mustn't forget his continuous attempts to demonise the union movement (especially the then leadership of the AMWU) in search of a method of crushing it. Once again, if he didn't succeed, it wasn't for the want of trying.
So, Malcolm Fraser has demonstrated himself a loyal warrior for the employing class. He's close to the LAST person I'd want to invite to convince workers to take up the cause of refugees. And they do need convincing. All opinion polls show a solid majority supporting Howard's disgusting policy, so we have our work cut out for us in bringing the bulk of the working class across to a pro-refugee position.
How are we to convince workers to support the refugees if they don't already? It won't be by appeals to a classless "humanitarianism", especially from someone whose track record combines such "humanitarianism" with unremitting struggle on behalf of the employing class and against the workers. Rather, it will be by accepting that refugees are workers and arguing from the foundation principle of unionism - that an injury to one is an injury to all.
Using the "touch one, touch all" principle, we can demonstrate that:
(a) The key issue behind the demonisation of refugees & the panic about "border protection" is racism; and
(b) Racism can only divide the working class in the face of attacks by the Howard government or the employers, leading to a far greater likelihood that these attacks will succeed.
To win this argument, the only one which can bring the bulk of workers across, we need allies like Malcolm Fraser like we need a hole in the head.
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