||Issue No. 307||19 May 2006|
Open for Business?
Interview: Out of the Bedroom
Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
Legal: The Fantasy of Choice
Politics: Labor Pains
Economics: Economics and the Public Purpose
Corporate: House of Horrors
History: Clash Of Cultures
International: Childs Play
Culture: Folk You Mate!
Review: Last Holeproof Hero
The Locker Room
Pleased with Beazley
What is Working Class
National Day of Protest
Higher Profile for Labor
National Day of Protest
In early April a Victorian unionist mailed me leaflets for the June 28 Workers & Community National Day of Protest. The leaflets, produced by the Victorian Trades Hall Council, call on workers and the community to assemble at one of four locations and march onto the Melbourne city centre. In inspiring bold red print it reads, "Together we are unbreakable!"
Again, Victorian unions have distributed posters and leaflets three months prior to their Day of Protest. This is one reason why they could mobilise over 100 000 people for the 2005 November 15 rally.
Sadly this isn't the case in NSW. Unions NSW secretary, John Robinson, was vehemently opposed to a June 28 rally in Sydney. A compromise was eventually struck with a Blacktown rally being organised, the most marginal electorate in NSW. While this is terrific for workers in western Sydney, thousands of people opposed to the new IR laws can't participate. This strategy demobilises people as it attempts to channel their anger into a just vote Labor campaign.
Unions WA has refused to endorse the ACTU National Day of Protest. Consequently WA blue collar unions are forced to organise the rally themselves.
Unfortunately, sections of the union leadership are diverting our campaign to a "Just Vote Labor" strategy. Similar marginal seat campaigns in 1998, 2001 and 2004 all failed. This led to demoralisation and pessimism within the ranks making it easier for the Coalition to deepen its attacks.If Beazley's popularity and performance is any indication, we are doomed. What's our strategy in the likely event Labor isn't elected? Let me guess, a 2010 election campaign.
If elected, there's no guarantee that Labor will repeal the legislation unless the union movement keeps campaigning to defeat it on the ground. Beazley refuses to abolish AWAs. Without an industrial campaign and mass protests the best Labor will do is to merely ameliorate the worst aspects of the legislation.
Many agree we need national stoppages to defeat these laws. We're warned not to compare the successful French IR campaign with our own. Australia union density is more than double that in France; however their campaign of escalating industrial action, not lobbying, defeated the anti-worker laws within a month. Howard hopes our union movement won't organise national stoppages.
We can defeat Howard's IR laws and rebuild our unions. We must not rely on Labor to do it for us.
John Gauci, NSW
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