ASF-IWA Brisbane protest against 20% wage cuts

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smush
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Jun 23 2012 11:36

would solidarity pickets in Aotearoa/NZ be useful? or do you need some donations?

if pickets are useful, is there a leaflet that could be downloaded somewhere and handed out?

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axxs
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Jun 24 2012 03:22

Awesome stuff Aunty Jack, well done Wollongong!

ASF Brisbane picket at Spring Hill had a store owner purchasing the store next week show up, asking about what was going on.

We argued that as store owner he could reinstate his drivers wages. He now aims to put the workers on full time wages rather than casual. We'll see how that pans out.

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axxs
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Jun 24 2012 03:24
smush wrote:
would solidarity pickets in Aotearoa/NZ be useful? or do you need some donations?

if pickets are useful, is there a leaflet that could be downloaded somewhere and handed out?

It would definitely put the pressure on if Domino's saw international support ...

You can contact us via brisbane@asf-iwa.org.au and we can send you material. There is an updated leaflet in the works as well smile

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ites
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Jun 24 2012 05:05
axxs wrote:
A great turnout at Brisbane, with leaflets given to workers and members of BSN in force. There was one member of the IWW there, it would have been great to have the IWW show up, as well as to the weekly protests in Melbourne.

We have sent 2 emails to IWW Australia ROC requesting solidarity with our members struggle with absolutely no response whatsoever, it's a bit disappointing to be honest neutral Even a response would have been nice.

Sincere apologies; Australian IWW ROC is in limbo at the moment pending elections which are currently underway. The Melbourne branch is certainly aware of the Dominos campaign and has been doing what we have been able to to publicise it through Facebook etc.

In Melbourne we have been a little busy with aforementioned election business amongst other things but I for one am going to encourage the 30-odd members here to be more actively involved in future pickets and other boycotting activity. Wobs in Wollongong held a picket last night, and the Sydney branch are planning a solidarity action in the very near future also I believe.

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With Sober Senses
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Jun 26 2012 01:51

Hi all,
Look I don't want to criticize the hard work people are putting in but from the sidelines it is unclear what the relationship between the ASF and the drivers themselves is and what the nature of decision making about the campaign is.
Could someone please clarify?
cheers
Dave

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Lugius
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Jun 26 2012 02:49

My understanding is that some of the drivers are members of ASF Brisbane. It is the ASF Brisbane that has initiated the campaign. According to the TWU, they have no members who are delivery drivers. It is not known how many delivery drivers are members of the SDA.

I'm not sure what you mean by criticism, could you clarify?

syndicalist
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Jun 26 2012 04:05

infoATasf-iwa.org.au

On 6/20/12, WSA Corresponding Secretary <wsa.corresponding.secretaryATgmail.com> wrote:

> Dear ASF-IWA,
>
> The Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA) sends you our solidarity
> greetings and good wishes in your Dominios campaign.
>
> On to victory, comrades!
>
> Yours in solidarity,
> WORKERS SOLIDARITY ALLIANCE
>
> PS: Special greetings to any and all old time ASF members....from old
> time WSA comrades -:)

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With Sober Senses
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Jun 26 2012 07:17

Hi Lugius, I will clarify but I want to make it clear that
a) I don’t want to derail this thread
b) That these are somewhat ‘off-the-rack’ concerns and might be totally off the mark.

I would be critical of any struggle around a work-place that is ‘parachuted’ in from outside as it would not be a direct expression of the workers’ self-activity themselves, also I would be worried about the absence of any open and autonomous form of self-organising the struggle – like a picket committee composed of workers and supporters.
I am not saying that this is what is happening in this case.
I should also disclose that I am involved in the as yet 'embryonic' Brisbane Workers Assembly
cheers
Dave

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Lugius
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Jun 26 2012 20:07

Greetings Mr. Grumpy Cat!

You may confusing the ASF with the asn. There is a clear methodological difference. I'm not a member of ASF Brisbane, I'm a member of ASF-M. But my understanding is that it was a delivery driver working for Domino's and a member of ASF-B that first brought to the attention of the assembly of ASF-B the notice by management to the drivers informing them of the arbitrary wage-cut. The decision was taken there to fight it. I'm told that ASF-B contacted the BSN directly and the IWW-ROC by email seeking support.

I do know that ASF-B contacted ASF-M and informed us about the situation and by the terms of the Aims, Principles and Statutes we were compelled to act. (See the website). It was always understood that ASF-B was 'running the show' and that we would take our direction from and in consultation with ASF-B. This is entirely consistent ASF practise in the past insofar as a member of an affiliated union is entitled to the support that particular affiliated union, in this case, ASF-B. The ASF itself is made up of its affiliated member unions who will support their sister unions when required. I would suggest that this is entirely consistent with the theory and practise of anarchist organisation in general and the methods of anarcho-syndicalism in particular.

Here in Melbourne, we sought the support of the Melbourne Anarchist Club, who have been fantastic, and the Workers Solidarity Network who have been good too.

This has so far enabled the ASF to operate weekly pickets in two cities targetting a multinational fast food company to demand the restoration of their wages. Add to this the many messages of support and encouragement from across Australia and overseas and you have a demonstration of what can be achieved.

Personally, I think it would have been better had the ASF had more affiliates particularly in places other than the east coast but you have to work with what you have got.

I've read here on this thread that the IWW-ROC was unable to respond on account of their Committee elections which must be pretty complex and involved as we are into the second month of the campaign. The ASF does not have any such executive committee as it organises as a federation based on anarchist principles where each affiliate is autonomous and may initiate action in its own name. In my view, this not only guarantees that power remains at the base but is also a more effective use of resources.

But clearly the apparent inertia of the ROC has not stifled the initiative of at least some IWW members in Wollongong which is fantastic!

I look to all anarchist groups in Australia to get onboard as I think there is a halfway decent chance of winning if there is sustained campaign.

I'd recommend downloading the DPE annual report from Domino's website as it makes fascinating reading.

By the way, what exactly is the Brisbane Workers Assembly?

Aunty Jack
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Jun 27 2012 06:16

Hi Grumpy Cat,

As far as I'm aware, the actions are being taken in support of Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation members in Brisbane who are delivery drivers, at least according to this article on New Matilda in any case - http://newmatilda.com/2012/06/15/anarchists-deliver-fair-pizza I doubt our picket would have been organised if it wasn't in support of other Domino's workers themselves who are taking action.

That said, picketing a shop in Wollongong (where drivers have also had their pay cut but aren't organising against it) did seem as if we were descending from on high to save the workers. One staff member, freaked out by the presence of our picket, police and the shop's owner, came outside and told us we should "go back to Brisbane!" Organising in Wollongong to support Domino's workers in Brisbane - when the ones in Wollongong aren't organising themselves - has felt quite problematic. One of our comrades is producing a leaflet aimed specifically at staff explaining what we're doing, but I feel like a letter from drivers in Brisbane to other Domino's staff would be best.

Any chance of getting a letter from ASF Brisbane drivers to other staff? From our experience, this would be really handy.

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Chilli Sauce
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Jun 27 2012 06:08
Quote:
Any chance of getting a letter from ASF Brisbane drivers to other staff? From our experience, this would be really handy.

Sounds like a good move.

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axxs
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Jun 27 2012 06:51

Lugius is correct.

ASF-B would not be able to be involved in FWA/Dominos negotiations without such. The SDA itself I would be surprised if it had many drivers as members, most drivers of the thousands over Australia affected are not a member of a union. I think this is pretty common amongst casual workers.

Quote:
Any chance of getting a letter from ASF Brisbane drivers to other staff? From our experience, this would be really handy.

Great idea comrade, I will take this to our meeting later today!

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Jun 27 2012 07:30

Thanks for the responses they do give a clearer picture of what is going on. So there are no drivers involved in the Melbourne pickets then (I understand that under current IR laws this might be practically unwise)? And what is the reactions and relations between the ASF-B drivers and the rest of their workmates?
cheers
Dave

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happychaos
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Jun 27 2012 13:59

Hi,

I probably should split this reply, but will leave it here unless someone else wants it to be split.

I also apologise if this post isn't too coherent, it's 1am in the morning.

This is mostly a response to Skaeling and hope others might find it interesting.

As some of you may know, I've worked as a voluntneer and paid organisers in retail for the past eight years. I've work at Unite (where I organised the SupersizeMyPay.com campaign) and at First Union (where I've organised a company with a yellow-union and at an incredibly anti-union supermarket chain.) Each of these campaigns have been succesful on many levels (they've got their problems) and they show its not only possible to unionised deunionised and difficult retail sites, but also based on a militant direct action and grassroots model.

I have some experience of the SDA, including a conversation with Joe de Briun, the previously leader of SDA, not asia-region head of the international retail union (UniGlobal).

Unite has no relationship with SDA and First Union's relationship is pretty non-existant. I've talked to SDA organisers in Australia, been to some of their presentations at union organising conferences, and sat in on a youth organising meeting. I've also done some background work.

Retail unions internationally

Retail is one of the worst unionised industries in the world. Food retail (supermarkets) are generally better organised because they tend to be chains and are larger workforces. Most retail companies are small, often franchised. The pay is low (except comparitively in OZ) and is casualised. The workplace itself is organised in a way that isn't conjusive to unionisation: workers are isolated spatially (think checkout operators) and temporally (they have staggered breaks) - which reduces natural solidarity - and in franchises (privately own branches of chains) have the boss working on the floor - which increases the influence of a boss as opposed to a factory floor where the boss is often "over there" - , and they employ few staff (reduces confidence).

Retail unions in NZ.

The history of retail unionism in Aotearoa New Zealand is quite unique in that we have compulsory unionism and an award system (industry-wide collective agreements) . Despite this, we weren't that well organised in retail, especially in small retail stores.

The traditional retail union's in NZ were:

(1) National Distribution Union (now First Union): which was originally
(a) the Butchers Union - mainly supermarkets, some butchers stores - and the
(b) Shop Assistants Union - mainly spuermarkets, with some strong retail sites like DECA etc

(2) the Service and Food Workers Union - mainly in fast-food, but with low organisation in restaurants and cafes (hard to organise small workplaces).

(3) Finsec - covering bank workers (who never considered themselves retail and weren't for a long time, but that's what they are in effect now.) They amalgamated with NDU to create First Union late last year.

(4) the Warehouse Peoples Union - an inhouse union at The Warehouse created to keep the NDU out, and one of NZ only genuine yellow trade unions.

During the 1990's when the Employment Contracts Act came in, fast-food and the small retail chains with a union presence (largely because of compulsory unionism, but also because they are hard to organise under enterprise bargaining) were de-unionised.

In 2002-4:

(5) Unite - re-unionised fast-food as it was looking for union membership in a large non-unionise sector not covered by another union to establish itself. (SFWU did have some members, but they were never going to re-organise fast-food. Unite also re-unionised other areas traditionally covered by SFWU, including cinemas and some other areas SFWU did want to keep organising in etc.)

As of about three months ago, I can say, happily, that the Warehouse People's Union is now defunct and many of the members are in First Union.

I wouldn't consider the SFWU a retail union anymore, although they do have cleaners and security guards at Malls.

First Union

First Union is a "struggle based" union and is opposed to partnership. This is an ideology brought by the Northern Drivers Union and Stationary Engine Drivers which made up the National Distribution Union, which is now First Union. Later secretaries kept up this tradition, although its not quite the same as the Bill Anderson led SUP tradition, although it remains one of the only non-Labour Party affiliated unions. It was previously led by Laila Harre, an ex-Alliance MP, and is now headed by Robert Reid and Maxine Gaye (partners) as the retail secretary, both "soft" Maoists and very independent of the Labour Party.

Other interesting facts:
* the Countdown collective agreement covers 6,000 workers and is probably the largest private sector, single-site collective agreement.
* First Union is one of the only unions in New Zealand to be growing. But it also has the greatest area to grow - there are 300,000 retail workers, one of the largest industries in the country. I would call the retail sector of the union a recruitment based union, rather than an organising union.
* First Union is unique in the world in that it is also the main distribution/logistics/truck union, giving it potential control over the bottleneck in the retail industry. (SDA does cover some distribution sites, but shares coverage with NUW and TWU). FU also covers many food manufacturing workers, but is not the main food manufacturing union.
* First Union won "neutrality" (a company that isn't opposed to union membership) with Woolworths (Progressive in NZ) because it beat the company when it tried to smash the union in 2006. (SDA also has neutrality with Woolworths, but not in the same way.)

Finsec

* Finsec was a campaigning union, but had a declining membership (now mainly in bank call centers, like the ozzy equivalent) and was quite top heavy with union officials (which NDU required to be resolved before amalgamation.)

Unite

Unite, as we all know, is a "psuedo-political" union ( I dont mean that in a bad way) that wants to fight and is vehemently opposed to partnership.

SFWU

SFWU (not a retail union anymore, but i've put it here for interest sake) is a labour-affiliated union (and is very active in the labour party). It is an "organising union" and beleives in members controlling the union rather than the union simply being a service.

One final point:

* Retail workers were some of the worst off under the ECA (which removed the awards, compulsory unions and many basic union rights such as a monopoly on negotiting collective agreements). They are still between 11% and 40% worse off than in 1980 - largely due to removal of penal rates etc. Wages in Australia are between 44% and 60% higher, often in the exact same company. And that doesn't include penal rates, which they still have in OZ! (although i think some retail companies are trying to remove these now... big court case i think??)

SDA: The retail union in Australia

Australia is unique in that there a lot of retail workers in the union and it is the largest union in the country.

The reasons SDA have lots of members:

* The award system (industry-wide collective agreements) still in place in OZ (but its not compulsory unionism, so its not the only reasons)

* The SDA is a slick and smart union with a well-oiled recruiting machine. From what I know, they are the highest recruiters in Australia. They can recruit 80,000 workers in a year, which doesn't necessarily mean growth, because retail is such a high turn-over industry. They even recuit new members

* They have "neutrality" with some company's (the company's are not opposed to the SDA) with some companies (but not all) encouraging workers to join the union

* They get neutrality in places by selling or swapping bits of the award. (Fair Work Australia, which is pretty shit, took the SDA and McDonalds to court for signing a deal that undermined collective bargaining and conditions!! One way they got rid of youth rates for 19 year olds was making youth rates worse for 16 year olds...!)

* They heavily push a membership-benefits book (discounts from many of the company's they cover)

I would call the SDA a militant-servicing union. wink

Other interesting facts:

* During the SupersizeMyPay.com campaign i called Jo De Bruin to see what he thought of our campaign. He told me not to fight the companys, not to strike and to do a deal with them just to get a collective agreement. (Jo de Bruin is now the head of UniGlobal, the international union for retail workers, in the asia pacific region.)

* You've seen elsewhere that the SDA is the most important member of the right-wing faction in the Labour Party. As the largest affiliate in the Austrlian Council of Trade Unions (a compulsory national body, which we don't have in NZ, ours is voluntary), they have significant voting power. I get the impression other unions in OZ don't like them, but have to keep them on side because of their voting power.

* Some SDA organisers wear badges of a fetus. They are the largest anti-abortion organisation in the Southern Hemisphere. They are part of a long international tradition of catholic unions and are morally conservative. They oppose gay marriage (some members organised a protest against this) and I beleive contraception.

They won't collapse under neoliberal conditions so long as they kept doing some work (they do recruit heavily) and have things to sell (largely because of the award system and dodgy dealings like at Dominos, changing coverage to reduce conditions which probably isn't possible within an award itself.)

Organising opportunities in OZ/restrictions for minority unions

If I was in OZ and I was going to organise workers, I would focus on cinema workers before fastfood workers. Not because fastfood workers aren't important, but because cinema workers are easier to organise (well under a non-award systems) and because they are generally ununionised in OZ. MEAA has the coverage and from what i understand they don't know what to do with them. It's different from their other worksites. This might have change now, I'm not sure.

There are considerably problems for grassroots unions in OZ because that most people won't be aware of. There is "legal industrial coverage" for recognised unions in OZ, which we don't have in NZ. Unions here, including grassroots ones, can cover who they like. You can't do that in OZ and you can't create new unions to legally cover these areas. Unite's strategy wouldn't have worked in OZ. You can still have bargaining power, but its obviously more risky because you don't have legally protecting industrial action.

"targetting" non-union or union stores when we won't be organising them[/i][/i]

Just one final thing on one of the other posts. I'm not sure if this will be useful or not. I have quite a bit of experience targetting union and non-union retail stores "from the outside". Take from this what you wish, feel free to critise what you find suspicious!! smile

In retail, and places that are hard to unionise, its really important to be careful about how you approach non-union stores, or even union-stores from the outside. Because of the nature of the job, it is very easy for a company to turn workers against activists. About five unionised McDonalds were de-unionised when we protested outside them during the CMP meat workers lockout, despite approaching workers first and their union (Unite) sending a letter around. The suggestion of having a letter from another worker is a good one. Even better if you have another worker there. But don't automatically expect solidarity, even between the same chain. This is a tough one. The NDU tried to be militant for 16 months outside of a non-union store, and failed miserably. Unite tried the same at a McDonalds with low union members and also failed, and caused further deunionisation. I think they could have done it differently in both cases, but probably would have had similar outcomes. One thing you never do is put people in the situation where they have to choose between you and their boss, because they'll have to choose their boss. When organising from the outside, and without long-term commitment to orgnaising that site, we can't provide the support for the inevitable backlash. So my general rule is don't put them in that situation, especially if there is no ongoing plan to unionise, which means we have to think of clever ways of targetting a store/their brand. etc

We are talking about actions we can do in support of your struggle in OZ. Looking forward to taking action in solidarity with our comrades from across the ditch!

Anyway those are some ideas for now... hope made sense or was useful.

Simon

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Lugius
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Jun 28 2012 01:50

Thank you Simon, it is very interesting and most informative.

I worked in kitchens for about 15 years. I was involved in 'Dishpigs' magazine and the ASF Combined Kitchen Workers Association from the late nineties to early 00's.

Organising was very, very difficult. It was directed primarily at kitchenhands who for the most part are very transient and consequently have little incentive to join a union let alone take any action.

The great majority of kitchenhands are either international students particularly from China, India and Malaysia or 'backpackers' from countries of the West. Less so are recent immigrants who work in kitchens as second jobs and much less so 'Australians' living in caravan parks and boarding houses overwhelmingly older single men.

International students see their jobs in kitchens as a necessity on their way to careers in the professions whereas backpackers want a bit of extra cash whilst on holiday. The second job migrants are desperate for money usually because they're trying to pay off a house. Of all these types I met there was zero interest in organising on the job. And in all cases, they were at restaurants and cafes.

The only event of any note took place at a restaurant in Hawthorn in 2002. I was working there with another member of ASF-M. The restaurant was quite large and incorporated a reception/convention centre. It was part owned by now famous Gary Mehigan of Masterchef TV show (George Colombaris was an apprentice at the time) The headchef, Raymond Capaldi was unhappy with the work of my comrade and told him at the end of the night that he no longer had a job and would not be paid for the work he had done. Gary Mehigan was approached and told that he had to pay the wages due as the work had been done, the quality of the work being a separate issue - workers are paid for their time. This sort of practice is not uncommon at cash-in-hand workplaces as technically it doesn't exist. There were only two us working there - a strike wasn't a possibility. The ASF Melbourne and their supporters rang the restaurant (called the Fenix) and booked it out entirely on a Friday night (one comrade booked a table of 20 for a hens night). Extra staff was put on and more supplies were ordered for a massive no-show. On the following Monday, Gary Mehigan was approached again and, after a brief discussion about how the previous Friday night went, he agreed to pay the wages owed to our comrade. It was a minor victory in a single workplace but it did show that a non-registered revolutionary union can gain justice for its members. More recently, George Colombaris made the news after complaining that apprentices and kitchenhands award rates are sending restaurants broke!

In the case of Domino's Pizza, it's different as it is a multinational company although the delivery drivers might be similar in terms of the transient nature of some of the employees.

But the principle of fighting to maintain upward pressure on wages and conditions in Australia must continue as it has a bearing on wages and conditions overseas as it give more room for manouever.

Also, let's not forget the principle of long-term low-level stress for the boss in the absence of anything else as the case may be.

The affiliated member unions of the ASF will always act in the interests of its members and people will join unions who can demonstrate this and that feel they have some control over it and in most cases won't care if the union is revolutionary or reformist.

The anarcho-syndicalist union has a bi-fold purpose; get everything you can for the workers here and now regardless of their workplace or circumstance and create the necessary organisational infrastructure to take control of the means of production. In my view, the IWA is best-placed to acheive this aim.

syndicalist
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Jun 28 2012 02:59
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
On that note, are you planning on asking IWA sections to do solidarity actions at any point? Good luck with everything!

Not for nothing.... even ex-IWA Sections (like the WSA) would prolly try and lend whatever solidarity hand we can as well.

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Lugius
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Jun 28 2012 05:55

Thank you, Syndicalist! It is being borne in mind!

And thank you Tommy Ascaso for your question; The ASF does not generally ask the IWA for help very often. The last time was in 1988 when the ASF initiated the International Day of Solidarity with the Aboriginal People of Australia. Actions took place all over the world but the most memorable would have been when the (now defunct) Danish section managed to get a number inside the Australian Embassy, pull down the Blue Ensign and hoist the Red, Black and Gold Koori Flag in its place!

However, as Domino's Pizza is a multinational company, asking the IWA for help is a possibility. Not to mention our friends and comrades in Aeoateara/NZ and America!

When fighting global bosses, it sure makes sense to be internationally organised!

Black Cat
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Jul 2 2012 08:38

I don't necessarily think it is coming from on high trying to 'liberate the workers' by helping to organise at a workplace or in an industry you don't work in, it depends on your approach. It makes sense to organise in your own workplace but there is nothing inherently flawed with lending a hand to people who are organising in some other sector. Ultimately we're all wage slaves and we ought to be organising together across the class and around the world. As Simon O pointed out there are many pitfalls with this sort of work but the point is that we should all share our experiences and try to learn from each other and work out what works and what doesn't work in a particular situation and try to do things better.

Last week in Wollongong a bunch of us picketed a Domino's store inspired by pickets in Brisbane and Melbourne but it was hard going because the cops hassled us and it stressed out everybody; us, the workers, the bosses, the customers, the cops. We resisted the cops pretty solidly and we maintained the picket for a couple of hours, it was worthwhile but it freaked out some of the workers. In hindsight in was too full on but we didn't expect it to be like that, it seems to have gone pretty smoothly in other places. Actually we got a very good response from customers, Wollongong is a working class town with strong working class values but the gong has always been over policed, no doubt to keep a lid on militancy.

The following Friday night (29 June) we wrote a leaflet specifically for the drivers and hit up three Domino's in Wollongong and got to speak to about 15 drivers. We tried to avoid being seen by workers inside the stores. One thing we noticed is that the store staff didn't seem to care about the driver's pay cut, they are being paid above the minimum wage; the enterprise agreement hives off the drivers from the other staff and they're paid higher rates. The girl that told us to go back to Brisbane at our initial picket also insisted that she was the highest paid worker in Wollongong in the industry (possibly true) and got over $20 p/hr. I guess she thinks that is a present from her boss rather than because of a union negotiated agreement.

Anyway we tried to go under the radar the following occasion and only talk to the drivers and just do some basic organising work, no picketing or boycotting. It felt much better and we got a good response from the drivers. There's around seven Domino's outlets across the Illawarra so we're thinking of doing more next week.

Below is the text of the leaflet we handed out to drivers. I'm not sure if it is 100% correct. Can anyone spot any errors or make any suggested changes? I'm aware that there may not have been any pickets in Sydney so far. Hopefully we'll see some soon.

cheers,
Lindsay

Domino’s Cuts Drivers’ Pay

Many Domino’s drivers recently found their pay cut to $15.51 per hour, even thought the current minimum wage for casual employees (over 21) is $18.92 p/hr. How is this possible?!

Domino’s lawyers found a legal loophole that allows it to avoid paying the 22% casual loading. This is due to an outdated pay agreement dating back to 2001 between Domino’s and the union, the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA).

All that is required for drivers to regain their 22% loading is for the SDA to apply to have the agreement cancelled but so far SDA officials have been slow to act. As a result some self-organised Domino’s drivers in Brisbane lodged their own court application to have the agreement cancelled. That hearing is due to take place on 16 July. Drivers’ pay should be restored after this date. Domino’s have given no reason as to why they have cut delivery drivers’ pay.

In the meantime, pickets outside Domino’s stores in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Albury and Wollongong have been held by delivery drivers and their supporters to maintain pressure on the industrial court to do the right thing and restore the pay of drivers.

All we are asking for is that drivers’ pay be restored to the legal minimum. For more info contact dominosboycott@gmail.com

Please note the full adult minimum wage goes up to $15.96 p/hr from 1 July. Also note that any Domino’s employee who receives more that the legal minimum has the union to thank, not Domino’s bosses

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Lugius
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Jul 1 2012 15:17

Hello Black Cat!

Keep up the excellent work!

The FWA hearing on the 16th July to have the current SDA negotiated EBA cancelled will not necessarily result in the restoration of the wages and conditions of the delivery drivers. It simply means that a new EBA can be negotiated, in the meantime, the status quo will remain.

There will be three parties in attendance at the hearing; a representative of DPE Management, two representatives from the SDA (including the Federal Secretary) and the ASF Brisbane.

The current EBA lapsed as a result of carelessness on the part of the SDA. The current action by the ASF and its supporters has resulted in the hearing but in no way represents a victory.

In my view, we are in for a long campaign that will put the ASF in direct conflict with the largest union in Australia (230,000 members with a right-wing catholic leadership).

This affects all drivers working for DPE in Australia. The ASF in currently campaigning to organise drivers but we lack affiliates particularly in NSW. We need help with this. Please contact ASF Secretariat via the contact page on our website.

Black Cat
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Jul 2 2012 09:30

Hey,

Cheers for that. I should say that none of us have the time to get too heavily involved in the campaign but we'll do what we can, leafleting weekly and getting info out there to workers and the public.

Taking on the SDA officials is a big challenge but well worth it. I take it you know about the rank and file group "Reform SDA". They're leafleting three Woolworths (Safeway) stores in Melbs this Sat in opposition to a proposed new agreement which they say sells conditions for a pay cut. Wonder if they're willing to be involved in the Domino's campaign, if they're not already?

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axxs
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Jul 4 2012 06:05

A Domino's driver from ASF Brisbane has contributed the below for a flyer being worked on atm that drivers will hand around to other drivers including a call to organise together more strongly within the ASF. Solidarity between drivers will be needed within the discussions at Fair Work Australia and beyond.

A request to Commissioner Gay to be involved in discussions was made with Fair Work Australia by the due date (2nd July) and accepted, along with a written submission including us entering a driver signed statement as to the ASF being an agreed bargaining representative in the dispute as required to be involved in the discussions.

Quote:
To all fellow Domino's drivers, those I know already & those across Brisbane I don't - it's great to hear you standing up for yourselves, making yourselves heard.

I've seen you working & I know when April came along you didn't slacken off by 19%. You don't deserve this. Your labour isn't cheap but the bosses move was. Do you remember in training those flashy videos & an excited rep telling you how your wages were industry leading? Wages they were paying while making massive profits.

I bet they didn't tell you even then they were fighting to cut it. No flashy video for your loss huh, just a photocopied memo left out for you on short notice. And for the worst of reasons - they thought you'd lie down & just take it.

Because you're teenagers, because you're foreign students, because for those reasons or others just as good you knew you'd need to keep the job. Because you weren't organized and others were speaking in your place, hanging you out to dry.

I see their game, sucking all the dough to the top & letting the rest of us fight for the crumbs. Stuff that. We're rough enough to deal with all kinds of attitude good & bad from customers, we're rough enough to give it back to the boss.

I say if anything we deserve a damn raise. How many years have gone by without one? Still think you could get fuel for 70c/L like when we last had one? Think everything else you pay for hasn't gone up in that time?

Together we're undefeatable, together we'll find the bosses pushovers. Next time you go out on a run have a chat with another driver in the carpark, see if they'll tell you it ain't so.

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happychaos
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Jul 4 2012 23:17

That's a really good leaflet. Love it.

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Jul 8 2012 02:08

I don't know why the ROC elections are taking up whole branches' time.. As far as i've paid attention, we're trying to get everyone who signed up to IWW in the last year, to actually pay their dues, and get back on board, do the election, and hit the ground running.

AFAIK, there's nothing to stop Wob branches from participating in this campaign if they desire, sounds more like a delegate saying 'I cbf getting on board because i'm busy with x.' which happens.

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Lugius
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Jul 9 2012 01:25

I think this is a significant difference between IWW and the ASF with regard to methods of organisation. I'm told every IWW member votes for candidates running for the ROC with the most popular winning a seat on the committee as it were. (Is this right?) The ASF has a Secretariat that is the responsibility of the member affiliate chosen to fulfil that administrative task. If there's a problem, that affiliate would be recalled and another affiliate would be selected, it would take no more than a day. The key difference is that where the ASF is a federation of member affiliates, the IWW has a general membership of individuals. I think the IWW ROC model risks being a popularity contest and consequently concentrating power in the hands of particular individuals.

I'm told that the IWW has over a hundred members. With those kind of numbers, I was hoping that there would have been a response from IWW far greater than it has been. I know that some individual members have been supportive here and there but I would have expected more from the larger branches in Sydney and Melbourne (30 odd members I'm told).

The total individual members of ASF affiliates is nowhere near that but at least there seems to be greater activity. I guess the question of absolute numbers is a relative one.

I find it hard to fathom that an ROC election would prevent even the basics of organisational abilities such as the answering of emails for so long. I must confess some disappointment so for now, I'll be lowering my expectations.

I'm a greater believer in one big union - but which one? I guess this is a question that is only relevant in places where the IWW and IWA affiliated unions are active (UK, Australia).

In my view, the IWW is a historical response to a primarily American situation and I think it presumptuous to imagine that the IWW template will export easily to other countries/cultures as evidenced by its near non-existence outside the Anglosphere.

The IWA sections were created and developed in their countries/cultures of origin which makes far more sense to me.

With Sober Senses's picture
With Sober Senses
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Jul 9 2012 11:00

Okay before the IWW vs ASF shit fight happens can I ask what the response to the letter has been like? And what are the drivers themselves doing?
cheers
Dave

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Jul 10 2012 06:02

I see nothing to shit-fight about, the criticisms of IWW structure are perfectly valid. I'd like to see how it plays out in practice, could be a popularity contest, but hopefully not.

I think the important thing is action, we're all more or less on the same page about shit. I'll bring up the Domino's campaign at meeting here, is there any particular support you'd like us to give? Talking to/leafletting drivers?

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Jul 10 2012 10:16

Greetings, Grumpy Cat and Rats.....

I would have thought the word 'debate' would have been adequate. I see no harm in having a free and frank exchange of views that relate directly to questions about how to organise effectively in the context of revolutionary unions with a global perspective. It'd be good, I reckon. Perhaps it's a gentle hint to take it to another thread. Fair point.

I can't speak for ASF-B, hopefully someone can help us out there.

In my view, this campaign has been initiated by ASF Brisbane in support of their own members demand that the wages and conditions of all Domino's drivers be restored. Certainly ASF Melbourne acknowledges and supports ASF-B on that basis.

It seems to make sense, any union campaign enhances its chances of success if it supported by the (however defined) community. It seems natural to appeal directly to what you would regard as your community.

So far there have been 14 protest actions in four cities in the East between 14th May and 7th July (55 Days). The aims being; raise awareness of the issue amongst the general public with a flyer; draw attention to labour relations practices of DPE; demonstrate to the drivers that support can be organised broadly; apply pressure to DPE to restore the wages and conditions of the drivers.

Too early to make any judgement about the success or otherwise.

axxs's picture
axxs
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Jul 14 2012 01:40
grumpy cat wrote:
Okay before the IWW vs ASF shit fight happens can I ask what the response to the letter has been like? And what are the drivers themselves doing?
cheers
Dave

The response to the letter has only just started, the drivers themselves from the ASF have decided to move ahead with creating their own local within the ASF, the 'General Transport Workers Association'. This is just in process and was only decided Wednesday, the ASF-M contributing the idea, a great one.

Work will have to be done in regard getting more drivers and more members to this new group so that future dealings with FWA have more strength, this will be a long campaign. ASF-B will act in solidarity with the GTWA just as ASF-M has with us to date, taking direction in the campaign directly from the workers.

As to the critiques of IWW, I think they are very valid and should be raised for discussion. The IWW at least in Australia, uses anarcho-syndicalist imagery massively, it recruits from the anarchists and presents what is considered by many as anarchist organising, anarchists included.

When the practice fails the workers a clear reasoning in regard the differences is required. I see this as not an attack on the IWW as much as a reinforcement and clarity that anarchist practice avoids certain pitfalls experienced in the here and now. Especially when that involves a failure in representing the workers requests (eg: promoting of the campaign as a boycott, against the wishes of those in the struggle with no contact at all to a number of requests which explicitly asked for the IWW to let the workers direct their own campaign. totally ignored.)

syndicalist
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Jul 14 2012 03:29
Quote:
the ASF have decided to move ahead with creating....the 'General Transport Workers Association'. This is just in process and was only decided Wednesday...

Right interesting. Be interested to see any statutes or the like....More importantly, best of luck with the effort.

happyanarchy
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Jul 15 2012 00:48

Ok, I think there has been plenty of misrepresentation of IWW organisational structure on this thread.

And for no good reason I can see, as this campaign is supposed to be an ASF campaign not an IWW one. So why the guilt trips and cheap shots at the IWW?

1] ROLE OF THE IWW REGIONAL ORGANISING COMMITTEE (ROC)

Firstly the Regional Organising Committee (ROC) is not an "Executive Committee". It is just what it says it is. It's functions are entirely administrative for organising branches in a Region. It currently has three different positions to fulfil different tasks.

It doesn't have the power to accept or reject industrial campaigns on behalf of members, Branches or Industrial Unions. Branchs and Industrial Unions are autonomous to intiate or support any action they see fit.

This includes the right to reject actions. Which I see is a fundamental organising difference with the ASF and IWW, as ASF branches are "compelled to act" according to ASF statutes.

And it's a strucutral point I disagree with. Because you can't coerce solidarity, and it removes the autonomy of individuals, Branchs and Unions to decide for themselves.

If an IWW Branch initiates or supports action, they would then contact other Branches through their delegate, or use the organising email list to ask others to participate.

This request would be taken on at other Branch meetings to give individual members a chance to discuss and decide - yes, no, or more clarification please.

And this is what we are seeing play out right now, with IWW members from Brisbane and Wollongong participating in pickets, Melbourne Branch now supporting the campaign, and now a write-up in Direct Action.

These are tangible displays of solidarity and support for the pizza delivery drivers and this campaign, from the IWW.

It is quite possible that there are now more IWW members involved in participating in the pickets, then ASF members. But who's counting, and really who cares.

Anyway, if you want local support contact the local IWW branch, which for the record ASF-Brisbane never did.

2] ON IWW ELECTIONS AND DIRECT DEMOCRACY

The IWW is a direct democratic organisation, with clear organisational structures, roles and processes. These processes take time to be done properly.

On this issue, people should reread "The Tyranny of Structurelessness". Which is why the ROC elections take the time they do, and members put in the effort and time to do it properly. It is so everyone has an equal opportunity to participate, should they choose to.

Diminishing this process by throwing around lines like "It's just a popularity contest that leads to concentrations of power" is just immature and inaccurate.

It also makes me wonder how the ASF decides who is going to be the 'Secretariet' if you don't also vote. If you do vote, then aren't 'ASF Secretariet' elections also "just a popularity contest"?

And if an 'ASF Secretariet' can be removed within a day, I wonder how is that possible using proper concensus methods, in a Federation spread accross a continent as large as Australia?

This sounds more like a potential informal power hierarchy then anything in the IWW structure.

Just a further note, during the present IWW elections, there are a number of referendum items.

One includes changing the ROC Bylaws to prevent ROC delegates rotating around different roles. This is to prevent any potential concentration of power. Sounds like direct democracy to me.

ON ASF PICKETS STRATEGY
Personally I think the comments made about these pickets being 'an external other' comming in on the pizza workers have some validity.

Unless the pizza delivery drivers are driving this campaign themselves, it doesn't increase any form of workplace organising, radical self-activity or working class resistance.

Which is just another alienating experiance for unorganised workers, especially if there isn't any other tangible external support provided.

But on the upside, these pickets have been good at raising awareness of this issue, which is something important in itself.

And it would be awesome to see this evolve into something where workers themselves become organised and radicalised.