The Guardian • Issue #2087

Community picket outside Heat Treat Australia in Victoria

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2087
Protest at HTA building.

Protest at HTA building. Photo: via "X" WACA @akaWACA Whistleblowers, Activists and Communities Alliance.

On Friday 9 February 150-200 protesters picketed Heat Treat Australia’s (HTA) factory in Campbellfield, Victoria. This factory processes parts for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II combat aircraft. The community picket objected to the use of these planes to bomb Palestine. Therefore, a picket was erected to disrupt business as usual. This is a weekly picket organised by Renegade Activists, Hume4Palestine and Free Palestine Melbourne.

The gate to the facility was closed – no deliveries came in or went out – and the large roller door was also closed. Work was continuing inside the factory. While the work went on speakers addressed the rally.

There were two main themes from the speakers with regard to the HTA facility. The first: this factory contributes to genocide, therefore it should be shut down. The second, a counterproposal: HTA should be retooled to produce useful items for social good, rather than social harm. The second stream of argument is the correct stream. Non-unionised workers inside the facility are not going to be encouraged to organise to abolish their own incomes. Advanced processes are important for the continuing development of Australia. A speaker pointed out that HTA began its life making lawnmower blades and contended that Australia-made lawnmower blades were no longer available anywhere. Workers should be confident that their labours contribute in a positive way to their communities.

Speakers called for an end to contracts “for Israel” from weapons contracts to general business contracts. This is in broad alignment with the wider Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign movement.

Workers in the area seemed mixed about the rally. Truck drivers tooted in solidarity as they passed the crowd, and one driver held his hand out for a flyer. Workers at another factory in the area were less than pleased as the density of the parked cars in the area meant that truck-trailers could not turn into the factory. Activists are encouraged to leave a wider than usual space between their cars and driveways when attending protests in industrial areas. It is better to walk another 200 metres than disrupt a workplace which is not being targeting by action.

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