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Trade unions

Trade union independence

Workers and trade unions are under attack around the world. The Abbott government, Murdoch and Fairfax media and big business have launched an all out war on the trade union movement in Australia. The media are running an ugly ideological war and doing their best to discredit any union that dares to defend its members. The government offensive includes the Heydon Royal Commission, Productivity Commission inquiry, anti-union legislation, increasing the powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), as well as a massive smear campaign aimed at criminalising and demonising legitimate trade union activity and militant unionists.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) have been singled out for particular attention but the offensive is not just coming from the Big End of town or government. Forces within the union movement, mostly, but not exclusively, from the Right factions of the Labor Party have jumped ship to support the destruction of the CFMEU and MUA.

Many of the attacks from within and outside the labour movement are calling for the ALP to distance itself from the trade union movement. This misrepresents the situation. It is the trade unions that are in the grip of Labor, to become an official in many unions, it is necessary to first join the Labor Party.

Union policy largely, but not always (eg the good ACTU policy on asylum seekers) is dictated by ALP policy. Right-wing Labor has a tight grip on a number of trade unions.

The constant and pervasive barrage of anti-union propaganda, the repeated description of militant unionists as thugs, criminals, corrupt, etc, is having an impact. It does not help when repeated by leaders and former leaders of the labour movement.

If the union movement is to survive the current offensive then it will require maximum unity of all trade unions and strong relations with and support from the community. The independence of trade unions is an important part of this struggle – by those who are on the side of the working class.

The CPA supports this struggle for unity and the rights of workers to form unions. We campaign for:

  • Independent Trade unions
  • Legalisation of the right to strike
  • Rights for workplace union representatives
  • Union representatives on company boards elected by the workers
  • Union run labour hiring halls and an end to labour hire companies
  • Allow and protect rights to collective bargaining
  • Full inspection rights to workplaces for union officials.

Go to What's On Go to Shop at CPA Go to Australian Marxist Review Go to Join the CPA Go to Subscribe to the Guardian Go to the CPA Maritime Branch website Go to the Resources section of our web site Go to the PDF of the Hot Earth booklet go to the World Federation of Trade Unions web site go to the Solidnet  web site Go to Find out more about the CPA