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Issue #1839      September 12, 2018

Editorial

The rights of all are threatened

The government believes that the working class is not as united as it once was and the Australian Labor Party, in which so many workers have traditionally placed their trust, is torn by factional strife and the promotion of anti-worker policies. On many important issues, the right-wing ALP leadership agrees with the policies of the Liberal Coalition.

Employers have never let up in their attempts to weaken and destroy militant, class conscious trade unions.

The aim now is to destroy all unions.

The big corporate bosses are the driving force behind the coup-like push to entrench the fascist-minded right into the Liberal-National Coalition leadership.

This includes top-of-the-list priority to introduce total deregulation of the conditions covering the employment of workers.

The government plans include:

  • A further savage attack on awards and the complete removal of penalty rates for weekends and overtime
  • Reduce workers rights under enterprise agreements
  • Smash laws covering unfair dismissals
  • Wipe union right of entry provisions
  • Further curtail any ability to take strike action
  • Reduce annual and sick leave
  • Cut the minimum wage
  • Aggressive pushing of individual employment arrangements
  • Continue the attacks on unions, foremost shipping and construction
  • Undermine the existing State systems reducing workers’ rights, pay and conditions.

It is going to require the full might of a highly organised and united trade union movement along with support from the broader community and left and progressive organisations to defeat the employer offensive.

The Australian people have a great track record of standing up to attacks on democratic rights. Workers have rallied in huge numbers to defend democratic rights and to defeat attacks on them by the conservative forces.

These struggles include the Eureka Stockade, the struggles against conscription, the defeat of the cold war ban of the Communist Party, the 1967 “yes” vote in the referendum for Indigenous Australians to have the right to vote and to be counted in the census, the defeat of the infamous penal clauses imposed on the trade union movement which culminated in mass industrial action in 1969, the defeat of the attempt to destroy the Maritime Union in 1998.

The time has come to launch new struggles to defeat the attacks that are again being made against the trade union movement and the democratic rights of the people generally.

At the centre of this struggle must be the working class and its organisations. The trade unions must mobilise like never before without concern for craft or industry divisions or for individual gain. The rights of all are under severe attack.

The CPA is of the view that the building of a powerful united front of all trade unions and working class political parties and their supporters is needed to overcome these attacks on the trade union movement and the rights of workers. The union movement will be pivotal in building this united force.

A great educational campaign needs to be launched to explain what the government and employer policies of “individualism”, “competition policy”, “choice” and “privatisation” really mean and that on the other hand the trade union movement and workers’ organisations are built on “collectivism”, “cooperation” and “mutual solidarity”.

Industrial actions taken by workers need to be strongly supported by helping workers and unions establishing pickets, printing and distributing literature to other workers and the community, establishing support groups and fighting funds for striking workers and their families, and lobbying for the widest support from political parties and community organisations.

The formation of groups of activists to act in solidarity with workers who are under attack could help to reinforce pickets established by workers and their trade unions. A magnificent example was given by the huge community support for the MUA during its 1998 dispute with Patrick

Above all, it is necessary to bring about a united front of workers, trade unions and labour movement activists irrespective of political affiliation, all directed to defeat the government’s dangerous offensive and implement policies that are in the interests of the working people.

The CPA strongly advocates these measures and declares its willingness to assist with its resources in every possible way.

The assault can be stopped if the initiative and creativity of workers is unleashed with the organised labour movement playing a central role.

Next article – Early childhood education – Biggest ever walk off

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