- by CPA – Logistics and Manufacturing Branch
- The Guardian
- Issue #1997
The Communist Party of Australia Logistics and Manufacturing Branch is proud to announce its formation. We are an industry-based branch of the Communist Party of Australia working to raise class consciousness and support class struggle through the organisation of workers in the logistics and manufacturing industries. The logistics and manufacturing industries are some of Australia’s last remaining critical industries, in which workers can wield immense power over their employers and capitalist society.
The workplace is a key arena of class conflict, and it’s important that Communists organise themselves in the workplace by industry. In doing so, workplace campaigns to improve pay and conditions can be effectively carried out and won. The Communist Party is the most successful organisational vehicle invented for advancing the fundamental interests of the working class and for leading the struggle for socialism. The purpose of this Industry Bulletin is to regularly raise awareness of current events and problems in the industry, and to promote ways in which these can be overcome.
THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF AUSTRALIA LOGISTICS AND MANUFACTURING BRANCH DEMANDS:
- Employers provide PPE including rapid antigen COVID tests and N95 masks free of charge to all employees.
- Effective COVID safe plans put in place at work to keep workers safe.
- Employers upgrade worksites to be COVID safe, such as improving ventilation.
- Increased pay and conditions for all workers in recognition of the key role the industry plays in society and the increased risks of COVID-19.
- Full pay for workers isolating due to COVID-19.
- Paid isolation leave for all workers exposed to COVID-19 at work.
- Health and safety representatives shut down unsafe workplaces.
CRISIS IN THE INDUSTRY
The recent Omicron crisis, the result of the incompetent Coalition government’s “let it rip” strategy, is reeking chaos in Australia’s logistics and manufacturing industries. High numbers of workers off sick with COVID, as well as close contacts in isolation, has caused severe staff shortages, shutting down worksites, and crippling supply chains.
The government has even weakened close contact rules making it impossible to be a designated close contact from work. Unfortunately, the virus is no less infectious at work than at home. In reality, workplaces pose a high risk for COVID transmission due to the physical nature of the job, as well as employers refusing to provide adequate PPE such as effective masks or rapid antigen tests.
The government knows full well the likelihood of COVID transmission in the workplace and the danger it poses to workers, they simply don’t care. The government expects workers to work until they drop. Some state governments have even passed laws that give employers the power to force COVID positive workers to work, where they risk making even more co-workers sick.
WORKERS PAY THE PRICE
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has attacked the changes as reckless, saying that they will increase workplace infections and cripple our supply chains. With up to half of all workers in NSW absent from work due to COVID, this has been made plain to see. Supply chains have halted, leaving supermarket shelves empty. The public is facing purchase limits and shortages of staples such as fresh food and vegetables, toilet paper, masks, hand sanitiser, and even medicine, all while food is being left to rot without enough drivers to transport them, as well as of threats to food production due to high numbers of sick and isolating workers. This is one of the worst public policy failures in Australia’s history.
WORKERS MUST FIGHT FOR RIGHTS
The ACTU has warned that employees will go on strike if employers do not provide protection from COVID, such as free rapid antigen tests and N95 masks, as well as upgraded safety protections. Yet, employers are fighting to slash workers’ pay and conditions across the board. Striking over health and safety grounds is an important tool in defending and advancing workers’ interests.
Workplace Health and Safety Representatives have the power to direct a workplace to cease work in situations where there is an immediate threat to the health or safety of any person. This is a powerful tool for workers, as it opens an avenue of potential industrial action to workers without meeting the restrictive criteria set out by the Fair Work Act or winning the approval of the Fair Work Commission and its pro-business Liberal appointees.
Workers are risking their health and safety, and should be protected and rewarded, not punished. This policy of “work ‘til you drop” has had disastrous effects on workers’ health, safety, and the economy. Not only are workers lives and safety more important than the economy, but there is no economy without workers. The government must be held to account for its failures. They have cost Australians their health, safety, and, in far too many cases, their lives.