||Issue No. 167||21 February 2003|
Scales of Injustice
Interview: Agenda 2003
Peace: The Colour Purple
Industrial: Long, Hot Summer
Solidarity: Workers Against War
Security: Howard And The Hoodlums
International: Industrial Warfare
History: Unions and the Vietnam War
Review: Eight Miles to Mowtown
Poetry: Return To Sender
Satire: CIA Recruits New Intake of Future Enemies
The Locker Room
Who Let The Troops Out?
Wagga Wagga Calling
Ode to Johnny
Letters to the Editor
This Means War
There may have been up to 1 million Australians on the streets nationwide between 14-16 Feb and 10 million worldwide but we in the labour movement should take our lead from the WA unions in committing to industrial action against the war. Union industrial action played an important part in stopping the Vietnam war we should not shirk from taking a strong stand this time around too regardless of the UN Security Council position.
On 4 February the West Australian union movement set a challenge for other sections of the Australian labour movement. Nine unions covering 75,000 workers in construction, manufacturing, finance and the public sector resolved to carry out protest strikes and demonstrations when the US led invasion of Iraq begins.
This follows the WA union movement opposition to the State Labor Government's collaboration with the US military on the use of port facilities in "Operation Seaswop". The WA Attorney-General, Jim McGinty, and the Upper House MP, Tony McCrae, publicly opposed the Premier, Geoff Gallop on this issue.
According to a report in the Hobart Mercury, 5 February, 2003:
Unions WA Secretary, Dave Robinson, said, "affiliates unanimously voted yesterday to adopt a strong anti-war position. If war against Iraq commences, with or without UN support, affiliates are recommending that we should work together with other community groups to organise mass protest action against the war", Mr. Robinson said. "We need to send a message that most Australians, while strongly opposed to the repressive regime in Iraq, do not believe that war provides any solution. If war does occur though, let there be no mistake - unions and community groups will be united in promoting widespread action in opposition to it."
There is scant reference to this important development in the national mass media.
By Thursday 6 February, the story had turned up in its opposite form. The ABC reported that the Transport Workers Union in WA would refuse to strike:
"Union State Secretary, Jim McGiveron, stopped short of calling the planned campaign un-Australian. 'If our troops are ordered in by John Howard, we will do nothing whatsoever to affect their well being, their welfare', he said. 'We will be delivering whatever is necessary in support of our troops if they're ordered in'. Never mind the well being and welfare of innocent Iraqis following the insertion of a lethal Australian military presence in Iraq.
The ACTU, NSW Labor Council, the Victorian Trades Hall Council and the Queensland Council of Unions all have taken anti-war positions, but none so far have proposed industrial action to back up this stand. These peak union bodies and most of the Australian union movement have followed the feeble leadership of Federal Labor in looking for a UN Security Council resolution in favour of war as a way out. The majority of union leaderships have not proposed industrial action even if there is a unilateral invasion of Iraq. Socialists should take heart at the stand taken by Unions WA and work diligently within unions to advance a similar position, regardless of whether war is sanction by the UN or not.
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