May Day 2013

1. From Darwin Northern Territory Australia
May Day Dinner

• 7pm Saturday 4 May at Darwin Railway Sports and Social Club Parap. Guest Speaker Dr Chris Burns, 200 tickets at $50 per head are available from Darwin Railway Sports and Social Club Parap
phone 08 8981 4171. Support APHEDA buy raffle tickets
• Union Awards for 2012/13 at May Day Dinner

Earlier photo Adelaide May Day March: me as Secretary May Day Committee

SA May day

SA May day

May Day March
Date: Monday May 6th public holiday in Darwin
Time: Assemble at 3:30pm. March Commences at 4pm sharp.
Venue: 38 Woods Street.
Route: Start Cnr Knuckey and Woods St; Turn Right
Knuckey and Mitchell Sts, turn left at Mitchell
and Peel Sts; Proceed to Bicentennial Park The Esplanade

Entertainment: 5pm Monday 6 May Picnic/Concert from 5pm at Bicentennial Park. Music from Skarlett, Bloody Marys and Horse Trank, food, refreshments and facilities.

Guest Speakers: Alan Paton Unions NT, Ged Kearney
ACTU President, Michael Ravbar CFMEU

Update:Ged Kearney calls for may day as national public holiday

May Day Magazine 2013 Unions NT available from me.

The NT is now the only Australian jurisdiction which celebrates a May Day public holiday now that Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has removed the day as a celebration of workers rights and
achievement of the 8 hour day in that State.

Ged Kearney ACTU President in Darwin 2012, at Railway Club

ACTU President Ged Kearney Darwin on secure Jobs

2. Now a repost
Unionists organising for the right to strike, for the effective strike and for workers’ control.
Speech by Chris White at ACTU Congress 2012 fringe.

1. Unions’ right to strike campaign is to repeal all Fair Work Act penal powers and for a ‘firewall’ protection for workers in their unions taking industrial action.

ILO principles can prevail:

‘The right to strike is one of the essential means available to workers and their organisations for the promotion and protection of their economic and social interests. These interests not only have to do with obtaining better working conditions and pursuing collective demands of an occupational nature but also with seeking solutions to economic and social policy questions and to labour problems of any kind which are of direct concern to the workers.’

The ACTU argued these ILO principles with the 1993 Keating reforms for the first enterprise bargaining protected action regime, but we did not achieve all our aims.

Reith’s 1996 WRAct weakened this protected action limited right to strike.

‘Repressive tolerance’ of strikes came under corporate legal attack and moved to repression of strikes under WorkChoices – the most severely regulated anti-strike regime in the OECD world.

But as we know WorkChoices was not abolished as the Fair Work Act retained the repression of strikes.

Howard’s WC spin said ‘we are not taking away the right to strike’ but in practice unionists are not free to strike and the Rudd and Gillard government flouts such a right to strike.

Still no one argues against the principles. ALP MPs and Rudd in 2005 criticised WC and supported the ILO right to strike.

In ACTU policies there remains scope for the endorsement of these ILO principles based on the right to strike as a civil, political, and socio-economic entitlement.

In 2012-3 right to strike amendments can go through this Parliament (update: does not now seem likely). Minister Bill Shorten can first delete all of the FWA/WC anti-strike provisions. Then insert the above ILO principles.

Then a section to ensure no one can take a legal case against any industrial action, full stop. Employer legal sanctions to stop strikes and fine striking workers and union officials are not to be available.

Corporate law firms are removed from the industrial relations practice of stopping strikes with
penal powers.

The right to withdraw our labour-power is ‘firewalled’ legally paramount over corporate law.

What does this ‘firewall’ protection for the strike mean?

What follows illustrates the strike that is ‘unlawful’ but ought to be ‘lawfull.’ Such a new FWA right guarantees freedom for workers in unions to collectively bargain with strikes.

Unionists are free to determine the strike processes, the timing, the negotiations, the notices, the tactics and free to determine how we take industrial action democratically decided in paid workers’ meetings.

Workers are free to pursue any demands – not in anyway legally constrained, not restricted by old legal restrictions of ‘matters pertaining to employment’ or so-called ‘not permitted’

Free to bargain with industrial pressure for claims not only for collective agreements but management prerogative decisions, over industry development strategies, for job protection provisions, environmental demands etc.

Free to respond with strike action to the worst of the boss’s workplace rule.

The right to strike on occupational health and safety is absolute.

The employer right to lockout is repealed, with Qantas tactics unlawful.

The Workplace Relations Minister does not have the discretion to stop industrial action.

Competition law outlawing solidarity strikes and secondary boycotts is removed.

The individual on strike is protected: no return to work orders, no threat of dismissal, no victimization, no fines.

Industry and pattern bargaining industrial action is lawful as the industrial parties are free to determine at what level to bargain. The Building and Construction regime and the anti-strike powers now in FWA is abolished. Restrictions in trade-related industries, such as the waterfront are repealed.

The lawful strike extends internationally – essential for unions to organise globally against multi-national corporate interests.

This right to strike politically is a last resort response to bad government policy affecting workers’ interests. Workers, as citizens in a democracy, have legal protection for political protest assemblies e.g. against WorkChoices; no penalties against workers taking time to attend ‘No War’ rallies or on foreign affairs protesting against dictatorships e.g. in Fiji and fascist acts such as Indonesian TNI genocide against the East Timorese. The lawful strike supports human rights struggles.

Provisions in the Crimes Act and anti-terror
laws are repealed. No exceptions such as ‘for damage to persons or property’.

Union officials organising the strike have legal protection against ancient British master and servant common law actions in tort, contract and in equity – no possibility of crippling damages.

Industrial disputes are settled by the parties or in the FWA system and not in the courts.

Picketing is protected industrial action not subject
to injunctions.

Employers cannot employ ‘replacement’ labour to break a strike, as this is a violation of our freedom of association.

Then workers can freely bargain.

2. The question is then reviving the strike so working people can regain power and transform Australia.

Unions know the strike is the essential means for the power to win our demands, e.g. secure jobs.

How workers organise a winning strike is a priority.

Historically in this era strikes are essential to respond
to the capitalist and environment crisis and in response to the political attacks on workers’ rights. Democratic control by workers in their unions of their industrial action is central to defeat the employers’ decisions, defeat the corporate attack and defeat right-wing ‘austerity’ cuts.

The effective strike now is very difficult because of our repressive regime and corporate/government
lawyers taking legal actions against unions.

Employees in their unions in enterprise bargaining have to win ‘protected’ strikes as best we can and there have been stirring struggles with workers winning.

Recruitment succeeds when integrated into successful strike action.

Unions cannot resolve our crisis simply
by adding new members – without a powerful strike in place. Planned lengthy strikes are necessary to organise.

Australian unions are good at the one-day protest publicity strike.

But this gives the illusion of struggle, distracting from our real problem, which is the lack of an effective traditional lengthy strike.

Secondary bans, boycotts and solidarity strikes are a powerful means of union strength.

Mass general strikes in many countries are being organised as the global capitalist order is in another chronic crisis period with corporate and state austerity attacks on workers.

Activists call for a general strike on May Day. But look back through history about how general strikes happened. They are organized in the workplace only by union delegates and organisers organizing step by step all their co-workers across all unions.

Our Your Rights at Work campaign proves our capacity strategically to win in civil society. Unions defeated Howard, but we failed with the Rudd/Gillard government to secure the right to strike.

We organise outstanding social unionism struggles with community support.

But to win requires the power of collective strike action.

Social unionism is not a replacement for direct struggle against employers.

Social unionism where the strike is abandoned loses the central role of workers at the point of production.

Co-ordinated strikes against the repressive anti-strike regime requires union members organising across industries, a mass strategy to defeat the penal powers, learning from the 1960’s anti-penal powers organising model resulting in mass national ‘Clarrie O’Shea’ strikes.

Working class principles justify the refusal to follow unjust and illegitimate restrictions and for the
principled defiance of judicial orders to win the right to strike.

“Labour is not a commodity”,
“our labour power creates wealth”,
“the right to strike is a basic freedom that distinguishes us from the slave or bonded labour or from fascism”,
“ freedom from corporate and HR rule” etc.

3. But the strike is only a means.

We return to work. Then workers’ struggles need to develop more
collective power at work. Workers’ control over our work to counter employers’ control is the challenge.

We can develop democratic self-management agendas. Tactics historically are sit-ins and occupations when workers facing redundancies took over factories and ran them cooperatively. We can learn about workers self-management cooperatives.

We study workers control developments.

As unionists we listen to the history of militant workers who acted believing we can control our work and the economy without capitalist rulers.

Marx on profit

Marx on profit

Egypt: “We want to work … we want decent wages … we want free unions”
Preparations for May Day from Egyptfrom Mena Solidarity Network

Translation of joint statement calling for protests to mark May Day 2013.

Workers have been coming out every day for years to demand their rights from the businessmen who were protected by Mubarak’s government in the past and now by Morsi.

We have the right to dream, like the rest of the Egyptian people, that our demands, which are an integral part of the revolution, will be met despite general indifference.

The constitution was drafted without workers, and it fails to express our demands, or those of the poor in general. Instead of seeing our demands met, we face imprisonment, dismissal from our jobs, and the failure to legalise the unions which we have built of our own free will.

Instead of the implementation of a maximum and minimum wage we find prices rising on a daily basis while our real wages shrink. Instead of offering work for our children, we find factories are closing, throwing their workforce onto the dole.

We, workers of Egypt, call on all the political and youth organisations, and centres concerned with workers and the case of the poor in general, to join the protest on 1 May at 1pm from Sayyid Zainab to the Shura Council in order to raise our voices and the following demands:

Implementation of a minimum and maximum wage, with the maximum to be no more than 15 times the minimum. Wages to be linked to prices and the minimum to rise in line with the real rate of inflation

Implementation of an urgent plan to tackle unemployment and offer permanent contracts to all temporary workers.

The government must offer work to young people, and pay unemployment benefit equal to the rate of the minimum wage or find work for the unemployed. Workers to be allowed to re-open factories where the owners have closed them down and sacked the workforce.

Promulgation of a law on trade union freedoms which guarantees workers’ trade union freedoms, ends intervention in trade union affairs, stops the victimisation of workers for trade union activities, cancels all prison sentences against workers for exercising their right to strike and abolishes all laws which criminalise strikes.

Enforcement of court decisions returning corruptly-privatised companies to the public sector, re-nationalisation of companies which have abused workers’ rights since privatisation, injection of investment into these companies in order to get them working again. Rejection of all loans which will lead to the impoverishment of the Egyptian people, an end to the policies of increasing debt and increasing the burdens on the Egyptian people, and especially the workers. Cancellation of the QIZ agreement with the USA and Israel.

The Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions – The Egyptian Democratic Labour Congress – The Co-ordinating Committee for Trade Union Rights and Freedoms – The Permanent Congress of Alexandrian Workers – Train drivers – Justice and Freedom Movement – “Our Country is our Right” Movement – The Popular Campaign to Cancel Egypt’s Debt – No to Military Trials – The Revolutionary Socialist Movement (January) – The Egyptian Centre for Social and Economic Rights – New Woman Foundation – The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights – Centre for Trade Union and Workers’ Services – Revolutionary Socialists Movement – Egyptian Popular Socialist Alliance Party – Egyptian Social Democratic Party – Constitution Party – Strong Egypt Party – Dignity Party – Egyptian Communist Party – Al-Tagammu’ Party – Socialist Youth Union – Workers’ and Peasants’ Party (under construction) – Egyptian Socialist Party (under construction)
What you can do
Send a message of solidarity to striking workers in Egypt via the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU), copies to
Send a message of protest to Ideal Standard via demanding the immediate reinstatement of the victimised union committee in the Tenth of Ramadan factory. Read more here about the Ideal Standard workers’ struggle for justice.
Send a letter of protest to the Egyptian authorities calling on them to respect workers’ rights to organise and strike, and condemning the Egyptian army’s recent intervention in the rail and port workers’ strikes.
Invite a speaker from MENA Solidarity Network to your union branch meeting. MENA Solidarity has organised three delegations of UK and Irish trade unionists to Egypt since the revolution, most recently at the beginning of November 2012 (
Download a leaflet for your May Day events and union meetings: mayday_leaflet_egy2013

Update: photos of Ged Kearney ACTU President on the day 2013-05-07-09-22-40


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