- The Guardian
- Issue #2036
After nearly a year of preparation and political activity, local workers have re-established what was formerly known as the Newcastle branch of the CPA. Instead of calling it the Newcastle Branch, the new members elected the more inclusive name of Hunter Branch to recognise and include workers of the Greater Hunter Region. Areas including, but not limited to Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Cessnock, Port Macquarie, and parts of the central coast.
Anyone who is familiar with Newcastle knows it as the “Steel City” because of its former largest employer BHP steelworks, until its closure in 1999. Newcastle traditionally has been an industrial, manufacturing, and mining city with a strong tradition of militant workers willing to fight for their rights. With the new Hunter Branch, the broader scope and geographical area which includes more regional areas like Maitland and Cessnock encompasses other industries such as agriculture and tourism.
One of the key focuses of the branch so far has been supporting teacher, nurse, and early childhood learning worker’s strikes as well as activities to inform the populace that the CPA is back in the Hunter. In 2023 the focus will be on the peace budget, education, and formation for members and growing the size of the branch, while continuing to support worker and union activity.
The new branch will provide opportunities for the rising left-wing shift in the political leanings of the people of the Hunter, especially the youth. Communism and socialism are not the dirty words they once were, and the Hunter Branch aims to reclaim these words and bring them to the people. The political avenues for leftists do not need to be constrained to inadequate Labor or Greens parties, nor do they need to be constrained to student groups.
The CPA has a rich history in the Hunter Region, and it is up to the new branch to remind Novocastrians and the people of the surrounding areas of that history.
Newcastle and the wider Hunter is a workers region, and presents ample opportunity for expansion and activity. The Hunter Region has also been an area of massive exploitation by business and the state and local governments, which also provides many opportunities for the cause.
Newcastle in particular has changed from an industrial, mining and manufacturing city, to a miniature version of Sydney with a mostly services-based economy due to the outsourcing and closure of many of its blue collar industries. The nature of the kind of work has changed but the need for workers to continue their militancy has not. Steel workers are replaced by retail workers yet their struggle is the same.
The newly formed Hunter branch aims to support every worker in the region regardless of the industry.