The Guardian 7 September, 2005
CPA 10th Congress: On the side of workers
Over the last 30 years profits as a proportion of GDP have grown from 14.5 per cent to 23.4 per cent. Over the past few months there has been no shortage of business magazine articles welcoming a steady flow of record profits. And this week, Business Review Weekly (BRW) (September 1-7, 2005) features reports on some of the top performing corporations based on average returns on shareholders’ investments over the past five years.
Jubilee mines has a five-year average growth rate in profits of an amazing 56.48 per cent. That means that every two years shareholders are getting back the value of their investment. The value of their investment has also been rising. Most of the top 200 companies made double digit returns over the same period.
On the profit front many of the big corporations are still turning in stellar performances. Rio Tinto, whose six-monthly profit has just doubled, and the other mining giants are wallowing in a resources boom. The smaller mining companies are "also having a picnic", reports BRW.
Take another look at that rise in profit share of the GDP — an increase from 14.5 per cent to 23.4. Over the same period there was also a change in the wages share of GDP — a decrease from 56 per cent to 46.6 per cent in 2004. The share of national income paid in wages fell by an amount of 10 per cent and the share of profits rose by around 10 per cent.
This is no coincidence. The two figures are connected. Wages and profits are slices of the same cake, the wealth that is created by the labour of workers. If one slice is larger the other is correspondingly smaller. Under capitalism there is a constant struggle over how that cake is cut. The aim of the Howard government’s IR "reforms" is to give employers — the capitalists — an even bigger share by cutting the workers’ share.
This economic struggle between workers and their employers is part of the ongoing class struggle which also takes political and ideological forms. There are two sides to this struggle. The BRW, The Australian Financial Review, the Murdoch, Packer and other mass media outlets, the various employer bodies and the Liberal Party are on the side of capital. They never let up in protecting the interests of big business and the private profit-machine. The Labor Party has historically, when it comes to action, sided with employers and seeks to work within the capitalist system.
The working class has its trade unions which are extremely important in defending the interests of workers but it also needs a political party of its own. And that’s why there’s a Communist Party which, without any apology, declares itself to be a working class party. That’s the difference. The Communist Party and its paper The Guardian are on the side of the claims of the workers and wants to change the system to one that protects workers’ interests — socialism.
The Party’s Constitution says that it is "a working class Party based on the concept that the working class is the only force capable of ... achieving the revolutionary changes necessary to build a socialist society". The Party combines "defence of the best interests of the working people and the independence and sovereignty of the nation with international working class solidarity".
The Party is very democratic. When the Party’s Congress is being prepared, a political resolution is drafted six months in advance and a copy circulated to every single member of the Party with an invitation to read and discuss it with other members of their branch and to submit amendments.
Every single amendment is written down and submitted to conferences of State and District Committees or directly to the Central Committee for consideration.
At its meeting last weekend the Central Committee incorporated in full or in part a large majority of these amendments to produce a further draft. This final draft is now being distributed to all Congress delegates.
If any delegate wishes to pursue an amendment that was not accepted, it may be taken up during the course of the Congress itself and will then be voted on by the delegates from all over Australia. It is hard to imagine a more thorough or more democratic procedure than this. When the Political Resolution is finalised it can be truly said that it is a product of the collective thinking of the Party membership.
The members of the CPA are workers (employed and unemployed), pensioners, scientists, technicians, students, writers, farmers and other people from different walks of life. They are women and men, young and old, and have different national origins. Some are religious. All are united by a commitment to work for the interests and needs of the working people of Australia.
Communist Party members have both rights and responsibilities. They can express views on Party policy and activity, contribute to the Party’s newspaper, The Guardian or other publications, and stand for elected positions on Party committees. There are opportunities for critical discussion and analysis at all levels of Party activity.
At the same time, members are expected to be activists and to carry out decisions once they have been collectively discussed and decided by a majority vote. All members pay fixed membership dues and are asked to make additional voluntary financial contributions according to their means.
Members carry out their activities in various ways. They may be activists as workers in a trade union and become a union delegate at their place of work. They may belong to a peace or an environmental organisation. They may be activists in one or another of the solidarity organisations, which have the aim of developing friendship between the Australian people and the people of other countries, and extend support to their struggles.
Or they may be active in the many other community organisations, struggling for the rights of women, Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, refugees, and migrants; in defence of public education, Medicare and a fairer tax system; or in campaigns against racism, the WTO and IMF.
In addition, there are the campaigns and activities undertaken by the Party itself.
For example, the Party held stalls and collected petitions in support of Medicare and is giving its all to see the defeat of the Howard government’s anti-union, anti-worker IR legislation. The Party strongly opposes the phoney "war on terror" and anti-democratic ASIO laws and the inhumane and illegal treatment of refugees.
We are against racism and have always supported multiculturalism. The Party has put forward comprehensive policies to bring full recognition and land rights to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are the original inhabitants and owners of Australia.
Independence for East Timor, Bougainville and West Papua are other issues that Party members have actively supported.
The Guardian presents party policies and views on many issues, carries news of national and international events and promotes campaigns on economic and political questions.
Here are a few front page headlines from recent issues of The Guardian that tell their own story: "Enough is enough: Children out of detention!"; "Organise against Howard’s anti-union laws"; "Callous welfare cuts" (2005-06 federal budget); "Nuclear weapons and humans cannot coexist"; "Tipping point looms for earth’s climate"; "Banks make record profits while millions in debt"; "Resist attack on right to choose" (in reference to abortion); "Govt has no solution for jobless youth"; "End the occupation of Iraq", "When Howard speaks tax cuts read social security cuts"; "Denying land rights ‘the real injustice’"; "The New Century Belongs to Socialism".
They show which side The Guardian is on. Perhaps you have also come to the conclusion that the New Century belongs to socialism and want to do something about it.
You can do no better than join the Communist Party. It is a simple process. Contact the Party organisation (details), have a discussion, get a copy of our program and constitution and other information on the CPA. If you agree with our aims, then come along to a few branch meetings, join in our activities and that way find out more about being a party member.
Even if you are not considering joining, you might like to take out a subscription to The Guardian or send a contribution to the Special Appeal for Congress or The Guardian Press Fund. We rely on our members and supporters — we have no corporate sponsors or government handouts. You are welcome to attend the opening of the Party’s Congress which will take place on Friday, September 30, from 7-9pm at the CFMEU, 12 Railway St, Lidcombe. Refreshments will be provided.
Feel free to approach any Party member or official there for a longer talk.