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Issue #1913      May 4, 2020

COMPULSION WON’T BUILD TRADE UNIONS

The Communist Party has always fought for 100 per cent unionism – but compulsion on workers to join a union must be imposed by the worked themselves, and not by order of the State machine.

This is the form of “compulsory unionism,” for example, that operates on the waterfront.

Through their own militant and industrial strength the wharfies brought every waterside worker to the union. They were then able to win government recognition of this in legal statutes.

In a similar way, miners, seamen and metal industry workers achieved 100 per cent unionism.

They continue to guard this safeguard by vigilance and working class action.

The proposals now being discussed for legislation by the State Labor government, however, have many dangers.

Queensland is an example of how this operates.

State imposed compulsory unionism there has strengthened bureaucracy in the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU). It has swollen the membership of that organisation, which now controls the ALP and the government, and has made the AWU leadership an obstacle to the working class.

BOSS GETS DUES

Dues are usually collected by arrangement with the boss, and little opportunity is provided for the membership to express democratically their views on union policy.

By relying on the State to impose unionism; workers would endanger seriously their own independent control of their organisations.

The State is not impartial. It is an instrument of the capitalists, by which they control the country and ensure the exploitation of the workers.

Direct monopoly control in the State machine becomes more evident every day. Recent decision by the Coal Industry Tribunal, interference by the Court in union ballots, outlawing of strikes in the same legislation – these are just some examples of how the State is used by employers to attack the working class.

To rely on the State to force members into unions, would obviously make easier the bosses’ attempts to extend such Government interference.

Government legislation for compulsory unionism is eagerly sought by union leaders who rely entirely on the Arbitration Court.

But workers cannot rely on the Arbitration Court. Particularly today, when monopolies are striving to impose their war policy and when economic crisis is looming, they must fight for every wage gain or improved condition.

Part of that struggle must be directed to winning all workers taw their respective unions. Every worker who shares in the benefits won by trades unionists should himself be a unionist.

To ensure this is a job for the workers themselves, and should never be entrusted to a capitalist State machine.

This article appeared in Tribune July, 1953.

Next article – AUSTRALIA PLAYED BIG PART IN DEFEAT OF NAZISM

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