||Issue No. 185||04 July 2003|
A Recipe for Conflict
Interview: As They Say In The Bible ...
Industrial: Just Doing It
Unions: Breaking Into the Boys Club
Activists: Making the Hard Yards
Bad Boss: In the Pooh
Unions: National Focus
Economics: Pop Will Eat Itself
Technology: Dean for President
International: Rangoon Rumble
Education: Blackboard Jungle
Review: From Weakness to Strength
The Locker Room
After the Accident
Cuba - the Debate Continues
Greetings from Japan
A Recipe for Conflict
Here was the architect of industrial confrontation condemning the very forces his policies have unleashed - the law of the jungle with no umpire to control proceedings.
No one condones violence anywhere and the official involved in the video has apologised unreservedly for his actions. But before we tie any individual to the stake let's remind ourselves of a few important truths.
The Howard Government came to power promising that no worker would be worse off. It then went about ripping down the industrial safety net that had created the egalitarian society that many took for granted.
No change was more instrumental in this demolition job than the removal of the powers of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to compel employers to bargain in good faith.
That was all the workers at Morris McMahon would have needed to force an unreasonable employer to the negotiating table. Instead, they were forced to stand outside the factory gates for more than four months.
They were fighting against another of the Howard Government's reforms - secret individual contracts that trade away collective bargaining rights, with an up front cash inducement sufficient to meet the flimsy 'no disadvantage test'.
At Morris McMahon the workers held out. Despite being offered $1500 to sign up to AWAs, they refused to bend. With the support of hundreds of unionists from across the movement, they preserved their right to be in the collective.
Every morning they would hold their ground as management and scabs broke the picket - two immovable forces meeting.
They should have been in the AIRC talking. But thanks to Tony Abbott and his crew, they were on the ground shouting at each other and worse.
The great tragedy of the week is that the Morris McMahon's workers historic win was greeted the same day by the video nasty. Worse still, it will be used to diminish all unionists by those sections of the media that see this as their historical mission.
Rather than pontificating about the evils of unions, Tony Abbott would be better served explaining how his laws contributed in a real way to the ugly situation occurring.
The genius of Abbott is to talk about the rule of law while he promotes his real agenda of industrial deregulation. In doing so, he paints an economic agenda as a moral one.
To unleash anarchy and then use the chaos that ensues as vindication is the ultimate in hypocrisy. Even for a congenital hypocrite, Abbott hit a high watermark this week.
As for the Howard Government, if you want an image of their attitude to workers, picture a couple in their family car being buffeted by Liberal politicians and big businesses; Peter Reith is kicking the tyres, Peter Costello is pouring cold tea on the roof. And Tony Abbott? He's laying a golly on the windscreen.
If you were to capture it on film, you'd call it an outrage.
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