Recently the NZCTU organized solidarity rallies in New Zealand in support of the ACTUs national day of community protest against Howard’s' union busting legislation.
CWG supported the rallies but distributed a leaflet critical of the ACTUs electoral strategy to defeat Howard, and calling for a General Strike.
So the CTU wants unionists to turn out to their 'protests' on Tuesday in support of the ACTU national day of 'community' action. We should certainly get along there and raise our voices. But what should we say? Only trust the CTU heads or the ACTU heads as far as we can kick them!
The problem in 1991 and the campaign against the Employment Contracts Bill was that apart from a few small strikes, we were limited by the CTU leadership to 'protests'. We didn’t force a general strike. The mass memberships of the unions were overwhelmingly in favour of at least a 'national strike'. It was the CTU and union bureaucracy that stood in the road of a general strike. Even a strike that took the whole country out for 1, 2 or 3 days would have been better than nothing. If we had gone down in defeat it would have made the job of screwing the unions more difficult than it was in the 1990s.
The problem was that the rank and file of the unions did not exist independently of the bureaucracy and the ground swell of members’ anger was sold out by a small minority of officials. The CTU today is no different to the CTU that sold out the fight against the ECA in 1991. It is a labour bureaucracy committed to a partnership with the bosses on the bosses’ terms - sufficient profits.
It's 'protest' is part of the Aussie wide national day of action organised by the ACTU. So as we would expect instead of the rallying cry being 'workers unite to kill this union smashing Bill" we have the ACTU taking the line that 'Aussies' should unite because the Bill is 'un-Australian'. What this means is that the ACTU is expecting to negotiate a better Bill without coordinated strike action – that appealing to public opinion will make Howard very unpopular and he will withdraw the most offending parts of the Bill.
Where have we heard this one before? Remember Ken Douglas getting up on the stage of the Auckland Town Hall telling the packed hall that 'he' would negotiate with the National government to improve the Bill? No strikes because that might make the government unwilling to negotiate. In fact we now know that Bill Birch was prepared to back off parts of the Bill if he had meet solid industrial action.
'Un-Australian'? NO! Appealing to national sentiment to back negotiations is a sellout to the bosses. Australia is a capitalist, imperialist country, and until workers rise up and take power, Australia belongs to the bosses. If this Bill goes through workers will belong to the bosses too on individual nose-ring contracts. Right now it's workers who have to be 'un-Australian' by chucking this patriotic bullshit of class unity behind the Aussie flag back in Howard's face.
The 15th and thereafter should be devoted to preparing the Australian unions for a general strike to bring down Howard. We should be raising the red flag and the flag of the Eureka stockade not the Aussie flag with its symbolism of British imperialism and colonialism in the South Pacific.
NZ unions can play a vital role in this by refusing to handle trans-tasman sea or air cargo that breaks Aussie picket lines, like the seafarers voted to do during the big MUA blue in 1998. Meanwhile those of us who are committed to rebuilding the unions on the basis of democratic rank and file control should get along to these 'protests' as militant members of our unions and argue that appeals to nationalism are defeatist and that what is needed is a general strike to dump Howard.
Postscript: Predictable Results
There was a lot of self-congratulation following the massive turnouts on November 15. But as CWG predicted, these massive street rallies went nowhere. They were designed to create the impression that mass pressure could bring about electoral change. Howard ignored and insulted the turnout. Result?
True to form the ACTU has subordinated militant rank and file opposition to Howard’s Bill to an electoralist strategy of defeating Howard at the polls ‘next time’ and taking up Labor’s ‘offer’ to scrap the legislation. Pathetic!
What does Green Left have to say about this? It covers for the ACTU by refusing to call for a general strike, instead playing up the radical rhetoric of certain unions to stage industrial action at some future point. Pathetic!
Deputy Sheriff Howard No 2 Terrorist
Howard's anti-terror squads stake out and raid a number of homes, arrest scores, shoot to kill, all to protect 'us' from terrorists.
But he is the No 2 terrorist. Aussie bosses backed Uncle Sam in Vietnam, terrorising and killing millions. They backed overthrowing Sukhano and the killing of half a million in an anti-communist purge in 1965. Aussie bosses backed Suhato's invasion of East Timor in 1975 and the killing of another half million. Now Aussie bosses back Bush in Iraq and the US ruling class WOT.
How to fight back? Its no accident that Howard is copying Bush in the class war. His attacks on democratic rights come hand in hand with the attacks on labor rights. Aussie capitalism needs to smash the unions to boost the profits of monopoly capital. Any attempt to align politically with the 'enemy' of Howard's ruling class will make you a terrorist suspect. The anti-terror laws are class laws designed to smash workers resistance.
The unions have to stand up and strike back against both attacks.
On the 15 November the ACTU has to be bombarded with demands to build a general strike to bring the Howard Government down!
From Class Struggle 64 Nov 05/Jan 06