30 November: day of protest against Howard's employment laws

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the button's picture
the button
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Nov 29 2006 11:30
30 November: day of protest against Howard's employment laws

Greetings from the northern hemisphere. wink

I was just wondering if any of you lot were organising or participating in anything around this: -

http://www.rightsatwork.com.au/

and what your thoughts are around the campaign so far.

As you probably know, the labour movement in the UK did next to fuck-all against the Thatcher/Major anti-union laws, and I'm keen to know if they're as hopeless down your way.

And let's not mention the cricket, eh? cry

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Nov 29 2006 16:23

I'm just bumping this incase any Australians log on in my absence. Stupid timezones. sad

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Dec 2 2006 06:16

G'day the button in Lovely Lewisham,

I know a few who attended -- I didn't, as it was a) too early in the morning and b) an ALP election rally.

The 'campaign' so far, as undertaken by the ACTU (Australia's peak trade-union body), has been centred on a) a failed High Court challenge (costing millions and with bugger-all chance of success) and b) re-electing the ALP, which, under Beazley, has declared its intention to 'rip up the laws' and presumably return to the status quo (or some amended version thereof).

Banking on the ALP's return to office has been made quite explicit by the ACTU, but, naturally enough, far less attn has been paid to the possibility of the return of the Tories to power nxt yr (the date of the nxt Federal election), and what the labour movement might do to prevent the successful implementation of the new laws if this occurs. On the other hand, there have been some more 'grass-roots' attempts at organising -- in Melbourne via 'Union Solidarity' -- which have experienced some small degree of success in preventing the laws' implementation in particular workplaces.

As yet, most employers have been reluctant to take advantage of the laws, and it was only a few days ago that a major employer -- the Commonwealth Bank -- declared its intention to pursue their implementation in the workplace...

In any case, my thoughts on the Melbourne prayer gathering can be read here: http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/?p=493.

Cheers and beers,

@ndy.

PS The cricket? First Test -- ha ha ha! The Second -- much more interesting...

bastarx
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Dec 2 2006 07:08

Like @ndy said, the union campaign is a joke. There's certainly widespread anger among workers about this assault on us - heaps of people with "Your Rights at Work: Worth Fighting For" badges and electricians have been sticking posters of the same high up on light poles but of course the obvious question is when does this fighting start? At the ballot box next year of course.

The World Socialist Website have written some decent (if you ignore the last paragraph about joining their party that is) stories on the protests.

Our dysfunctional groupuscule in Canberra tried to do some stuff here in July-Sep last year when it first emerged but we failed miserably. Haven't heard of any actions by the rest of the anarchoish milieu.

My remaining slim hope that the laws can be defeated is that some biggish workplace goes on strike over a new harsher contract and it kicks off mass strike style. But there's very little recent history of large-scale workplace action outside let alone against the unions here.

One very scary part of the laws is that after 3 months of a legal strike (essentially only around contract expiry time) if no new agreement is reached workers can be ordered back to work at minimum wage and conditions. This is something that's been mentioned a few times at my work as we are expecting a fight when our contract expires in April.

Unemployment is very low right now with shortages of workers in some key sectors - for eg building tradesmen in the mines - so generalised wagecutting is unlikely until the next recession. What the laws will probably achieve is make any "money militancy" more difficult.

@ndy, what do you know about Union Solidarity? Trot front or more interesting than that?

cheers
Pete

anna x
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Dec 3 2006 06:22

Hi there. I went to the Brisbane ALP love in at Southbank. What a wonderful display of worker obedience. Cheer when told, put banners and flags down when told... The Liberal party are laughing at the next election if this is all of the support that the unions could muster. Media reckon that there was 15-20 thousand at the Brisbane rally. Reckon that the reporter must have been pissed and was seeing triple. Although I knew that it would be a labor party rally I thought that it would be an opportunity for anarchists to make a peaceful,positive visual presence so as to maybe present an alternative viewpoint. As far as I know I was the only one flying the black and red flag but alas the only enquiries I got about it was from the boys in blue. Hmmm...

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Dec 4 2006 11:07

Cheers for the responses, antipodean comrades. Not much web-access today, but will get back tomorrow.

It's something I'm interested in, in that the TUC in this country has been taking this "rally"/token 1-day strike route for some years now, so I'm interested in how it plays itself out in other countries.

Thanks again for you responses from Lovely Lewisham (i.e. not the one in Sydney wink)

bastarx
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Dec 4 2006 11:52

It's not like token union rallies are anything new in Oz either.

However they've been extra careful this time because of what happened last time they organised any widespread opposition to Howard's anti-worker actions. In Aug 96 in response to the Howard govt's first budget which cut all areas of govt expenditure except the military and the Australian Institute of Sport the ACTU (the Oz TUC) organised a big demo at parliament house. Lots of unions bought a bunch of members and a small section of the crowd - maybe 2000 out of 30000 and primarily construction workers, aborigines and students - wanted something more than listening to Labor and union hacks so they tried to storm parliament. Not much of a riot really but pretty unusual for this island. Howard waited for the unions to disassociate themselves from the rioters before coming out strongly against them and that was pretty much the end of any union organised opposition to Howard until Workchoices.

There's a pretty good article (based on his university medal winning honours thesis) on the riot by one of the SWP's younger leaders at:

http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/interventions/riot.htm

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Dec 5 2006 09:32

I was going to post on this thread, but I'm too depressed by the cricket. cry

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory once again.

Cheers for the article, Peter.

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Jan 11 2007 09:42

hey pete,

inre union soli, speedy gonzalez replies:

union solidarity is a ginger group, based at vthc, with one full-time organiser (afaik), dk, and a loose network of groups based on locality. i heard dk speak at the lasn conf, and he referred to adopting a 'whole of class' approach, ie, on the need to extend union (working class) solidarity across the spectrum of the working class: full-time / part-time / casual employed, unemployed, student, yoof, in the community and in the workplace, etc., and also across borders. this is partly, i think, a reflection of current low levels of unionisation in oz (outside of a few industries), and partly a recognition that previous modes of organising are no longer as relevant as they once, arguably, were. note this was in the context of a disco inre changing global composition of the working class, and exps of movements such as the mst, one member of which spoke on the same panel. dk himself has a good rep as a long-time militant (building), is personable, and genuine (imo); not a trot. from what i can gather, the grp has been quite effective in extending solidarity to a number of other grps in struggle at var industrial disputes across melbourne (eg, heinemann) and regional vic.

cheers,

andy.

ps. FIRST SECOND THIRD FOURTH AND FIFTH TESTS!

HA HA HA HA HA!

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Jan 11 2007 09:44
@ndy wrote:
FIRST SECOND THIRD FOURTH AND FIFTH TESTS!

HA HA HA HA HA!

cry

Just you wait for the one day series! angry

(You'll have another opportunity to kick our arses. sad)

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Jan 11 2007 09:48

Beautiful, isn't it?

smile

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Jan 11 2007 14:25

I noticed while I was in Melbourne recently that the slogan for this campaign had changed, from "Your Rights at Work: Worth Fighting For" to the truly awful

"Your Rights at Work: Worth Voting For"

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Joseph Kay
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Jan 11 2007 14:28

eek

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Jan 12 2007 01:58

Well, it is just a Labour party election campaign, as @ndy mentioned.

bastarx
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Jan 12 2007 02:04

The vote ALP element was always pretty obvious but now it's the whole point of this failed campaign. The newly installed ALP leader, Kevin Rudd, has backed away from the previous leader's promises to repeal the laws. We'll see if he does any better than the previous Murdoch annointed ALP leader at the election later this year.

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Jan 12 2007 17:39

YR@W is the ACTU-sponsored (ie, national) 'Vote ALP' campaign. Union Solidarity, on the other hand, is Victorian-based, less crass in its ideology and practice, and more focused on workplace (trade and industrial union) organising. The two are linked via the VTHC which, while being ALP-dominated, contains within it -- and, of course, the unions from which it's constituted -- a broader range of political views. Consequently, it also contains a broader range of ideas on how the new laws may be fought outside of the ballot box. In other words, I think it's mistaken to regard Union Solidarity as simply being subordinate to, and certainly not synonymous with, the ACTU/ALP campaign.

For what it's worth, I think the ALP, under Rudd, stands a reasonable chance of winning the 2007 election, and, if successful, is likely to repeal a number -- but not all -- of the more 'objectionable' (from a trade union movement perspective) of these laws. A failure to win, on the other hand, could witness a major rupture within the labour movement, as the ALP/ACTU strategy -- such as it is -- is rendered completely redundant, and the only recourse becomes industrial action, in an inhospitable political, and highly punitive (massive fines, imprisonment) legal climate.

As it stands, employers, as a class, have yet to take full advantage of the laws, and, outside of the more rabidly 'right-wing' elements, are sensibly marshalling their forces for a later, and much more massive, assault on wages, conditions, and any form of labour representation outside of the completely tokenistic; which, of course, still carries with it other risks...

More later.

One day series?

HA HA HA HA HA!

bastarx
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Jan 13 2007 00:33

Andy, I didn't equate Union Solidarity with the ALP so I'm a bit puzzled by that part of your reply.

So vote Howard for the intensification of the class war? smile

I think Rudd has a good chance to win too, Howard's gang haven't achieved much for capital lately apart from Workchoices.

What do you reckon are the objectionable parts of the new law from a union perspective?

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Jan 13 2007 02:31

hey pete: nah, it's sweet, didn't mean to imply otherwise; just wanted to reiterate distinction for benefit of readers generally (esp those from other islands).

by 'objectionable', i specifically mean the capacity of unions to actually gain access to workers and workplaces: the new laws are designed, in part, to make access to workplaces much more difficult. eg, 24 hrs written notice giving reasons for proposed visit is just one feature of many. the laws themselves, while presented as 'simplifying' the system of industrial/workplace relations, are massively complex and, i think, actually constitute one of the largest in australian parliamentary history...

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_reg/wrr2006329/

good news for lawyers!

bastarx
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Jan 13 2007 07:48

Well given that most politicians are lawyers that's hardly surprising is it.

I'd like access to the union delegates at my work, who are still drivers and thus can't be barred, but the lazy fucks weren't around last week when I needed to see them.

yuda
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Jan 17 2007 21:14
the button wrote:
@ndy wrote:
FIRST SECOND THIRD FOURTH AND FIFTH TESTS!

HA HA HA HA HA!

cry

Just you wait for the one day series! angry

(You'll have another opportunity to kick our arses. sad)

At least you beat NZ (not much of a challenge these days) - I can't beleive that this was the team that was able to chase down 300+ only a short couple of years back and was ranked 2nd in the world...... sad

mikabill
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Feb 1 2007 07:08

I am involved in the Your rights at work campaign in the seat of kingston south australia i am also a shop delegate with the AMWU print division and the australian greens candidate for this seat. The organizer the ACTU has employed to promote YR@W in kingston has done a great job in bringing together many different community groups and parties. The motto is whoever you vote for put the libs last. The last poll here in kingston has ALP 54 % Libs 46 % two party prefered. Yep no greens polling haha.We have had 3 community actions against radio rentals and its treatment (AMWU organized).I promoted these actions with the Greens and they attended in numbers. in the recent AMWU magazine it glorified the AMWU participation and omitted the greens. Greens MLC Mark Parnell attended and spoke at one of the actions and was the only polly to turn up. What a joke. The AMWU magazine also told of Doug Cameron's bid to run for the senate with the ALP. I asked them by email why not promote me as well as a rank and file member running for the lower house. surprise surprise no answer.

bill