define('DISABLE_WP_CRON', true); Chris White Online Blogging from a life-long unionist Tue, 16 Jan 2018 19:33:12 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 Support ICAN Thu, 21 Dec 2017 20:24:28 +0000 ICAN deservedly wins Nobel Peace Prize.
Please join ICAN and campaign to pressure Turnbull to sign up to abolish all nuclear weapons.

Winning the Nobel peace prize confirms my life’s mission to help end nuclear weapons
Tilman Ruff
It seems that the superpowers of the world have not taken their history lessons as seriously as many of us had hoped they would. Which is why it is heartening that the majority of the world, 122 states, have stepped up and shown leadership.

“People say nuclear disarmament is unrealistic, but what is truly unrealistic is to pretend our luck will continue to hold, and that these appalling weapons will never be used. The humanitarian impacts are too great, and the risks too high. read here

Picasso Peace dove

Picasso Peace dove

Peace Boat in Australia

Will our Nobel peace prize convince Australia to give up nuclear weapons?
Tim Wright
Read more
On Sunday in Oslo, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) was awarded the 2017 Nobel peace prize for
“its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons”.

The prize references the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, which was adopted by a vote of 122 to 1 at the United Nations in New York on 7 July 2017. It provides a historic watershed; a moment of truth regarding the only weapons which pose an existential threat to the entirety of humanity and our living planet.

Ican was a driving force behind the treaty, working closely with governments and other bodies such as the Red Cross to get it over the line, and it could not have come at a better or more urgent time.

For far too long these weapons have loomed over humanity, threatening to obliterate us any day. For far too long the voices who told us that these global suicide bombs were crucial to our security held sway.

Take action

Australian Conservation Foundation leverages peace prize against peaceful technology
peace trust

A Christmas message from ‘Nuclear Free’ campaigner Dave Sweeny of the Australian Conservation Foundation leveraged the awarding of a Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons, into a broadside against the peaceful expression of any nuclear technology. The Australian Conservation Foundation deserves condemnation for co-opting disarmament, an issue in which every human holds an equal stake, toward their ideological campaigns against peaceful science and technology.

How Melbourne activists launched a campaign for nuclear disarmament and won a Nobel prize

IPAN Peace conference

IPAN Peace conference

Mindfields Sat, 25 Nov 2017 20:09:47 +0000 Wonderful opening of Mindfields – my Exhibition of my ‘political paintings’.
Thank you all who came and to the Gallery One at Mitcham South Australia and to Wende Dahl who encouraged me to exhibit and who organised this Exhibition, and Russell Starke, an old family friend actor and Art Gallery owner and Curator who chose these particular paintings. And thank you to Kathryn Moyle, professional organiser who did all the leg work.

My paintings (click on the website and scroll down) are for sale and the proceeds donated to a Peace group. They range from $500 to $1500. Please contact Sanya on (08) 8272 4504 about pricing.

For the printed Catalogue please contact the Gallery $10.

I add that apart from these paintings, I have many others you may like to see and purchase.

From the Introduction
Chris White – ‘Mindfields’ is the first exhibition by a life-long left union and political activist; and a long-time artist. The title of this exhibition is a play on the words ‘mind’ and ‘minefields’. It is a retrospective of paintings over a 25 year period with the focus falling squarely on some of Chris’ more political works.

The retrospective was curated by Russell Starke and includes paintings from the past quarter of a century, covering different political times. Chris brings a raw and primitive energy to his work by employing a wide range of styles, brush strokes and colours: this is his mind at work. Chris ‘paintings are practices in using colour. Chris has also adapted well-known paintings and reinterpreted them in contemporary society

Some of the works selected for this showing are not easily approached. Primary colours dominate, dance and happily clash and wheel to create tension, emotion and message. They challenge to make their public take a hard look and to ask you to have a long think about their messages. You will be thinking about them long after you have left them behind.

Wende Dahl

Mindfields is showing live at Gallery One from November 24th to December 15th 2017.

Gallery One is proud to present these works as our inaugural online exhibition.

Strike force Wed, 22 Nov 2017 07:12:20 +0000 I post Strike Force by Humphrey McQueen

Our ‘right’ to strike has never been handed down from on high. Never will it be. Our right to strike is a precious gift which we win and hold for each other by putting it into practice.
The following 41 points have been created at the suggestion of Arthur Rorris, Secretary of the South Coast Labour Council, in response to the call by ACTU Secretary Sally McManus to assert our right to withdraw our labour and our duty to break bad laws. The responses below are the responsibility of all workers whose words and deeds have taught me that there is an unbridgeable gulf between capital and labour. Or as my father put it: ‘The worker has no friend but himself.’

strike as a last resort

strike as a last resort

Two vital issues are back into the contest of ideas. In some sense, McManus has opened a local window onto the anti-capitalism of Bernie Sanders,Jeremy Corbyn and the Pope. None of them can win our battles for us.

The emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves. We cannot therefore co-operate with people who openly state that the workers are too uneducated to emancipate themselves and must be freed from above.
Marx and Engels, 1879.
Our duty is to make the most of the interest that is being aroused. We must not let the Short-ons of the world put a lid on it. The only way to do that is by putting the calls to action into effect.

The 41 points here take up many of the questions that activists deal with every day. They can serve as talking points and as starting places for leaflets. The paper is for general use, in whole or in part, by working people, without permission or acknowledgement.

The attack on penalty rates is the thin edge of a very thick wedge that the agents of capital must drive into our living conditions so that they can weather the next bouts of turbulence in the global economy. Locally, the winding down of mineral export and the real-estate boom are taking their toll of our real incomes.

The right to strike will depend upon our reviving ideas and ideals which used to be the bleeding obvious. To prevent further reverses we have to reclaim the understanding of exploitation that has been lost since the 1970s. Only by doing so, will we ever realise Marx’s picture of ‘… a society in which the full and free development of every individual forms the ruling principle.’
Our immediate tasks are clear enough: > rebuild around the jobs;
> regain a class analysis of what we are up against;
> reclaim the vision of socialism as a sustainable, socially equally and peaceful world.
Maximum harm to the boss. Minimum harm to the workers.

1. ‘Fair day’s pay?’ No way!
For a start, we must expose the fantasy that there can be a fair day’s pay under capitalism. Yes, activism can get us our full Award rates. Collective action can keep those rates equal to the costs of reproducing our labour-power. Yet winning those minimums does not put an end to our exploitation. Every wage-slave is exploited. If we were not, the bosses would not employ us.
To be a productive worker is therefore not a piece of luck, but a misfortune.
Marx, Capital, I, p. 644.

‘Exploitation’ is not confined to 7- Eleven workers. Even if those wage-slaves had got their full entitlements they still would have been exploited.
Bangladeshi garment workers are exploited but not just because they are paid only a dollar or two a day. Even when their wages equal the costs of reproducing their labour-power, they are exploited because their bosses take the value they add over and above that needed to cover their wages.
It is quite possible that Australian electricians on $400 a day are being exploited at a higher rate than third-world ones on $20. The rate depends on how much value each adds beyond what is paid to match their needs.
Understanding that there could be no such thing as a fair day’s pay was once widespread. Now pleading for a fair day’s pay is as progressive as the ALP (Anti-labour Party) is game to go. Protests against ‘exploitation’ are confined to extreme cases such as the 7-Eleven workers.
Under the rule of capital, exploitation has to be universal for capital to exist.

2. ‘Getting the balance right’
The bosses claim that un-Fair Work Australia tipped the balance too far in our favour. Too far from what? Their answer is ‘too far from Worst Choices’. They lack the guts to say so. The hollowed-out ‘right’ to protected action under un-Fair Work Australia is light years away from the powerful rights that our class had won from struggle in the previous 200 years. Protected action protects profits.

3. A virtuous circle
Working and stopping work share a vital aspect. Each expresses our humanity. Indeed, their combination made us human. They remain the basis for deepening and broadening what it means to be human.

strike weapon as a last resort

strike weapon as a last resort

Stopping work, like work, takes several forms. Stopping work can be going out on strike. Far more often, stopping work will be knock-off time for the day; or it might be going on annual leave or taking long-service leave; and it can be retirement for reasons of age or injury.

Those ways of stopping work have one thing in common. A shorter working-day, paid leave and tax-funded retirement were all won and defended by going on strike.

Australian labour led the world. In 1855, metal-workers in Sydney downed tools for an eight-hour day. Next, year, stonemasons in Melbourne struck for shorter hours.

Achieving that working period became known as winning ‘the boon’. That term had originally meant being jolly, or to receive a blessing. Eight-hours was a source of joy and a great benefit. But it was not won by prayer or by going cap in hand.
The right to stop work after eight hours was won by stopping work in collective action.
anti-union laws
Working people won ‘the boon’ by breaking the law. They had no ‘right’ to strike. The Masters and Servants Acts made it an offence for workers to leave their Masters before a contracted time was up.

4. The state is not our friend
Our forebears earned their ‘right’ to strike in the same way as they won the eight-hours. Both ‘rights’ came from action around the jobs and throughout the community. Parliament rewrote laws only after workers had done so in practice.
Securing our right to strike involves more than steering amendments to the un-Fair Work Act through the Senate cross-benches. Marginal-seat campaigning will deliver workers back into the clutches of the labor lieutenants of capital – the Anti-Labour Party (aka the ALP) – who delivered us into the chains of un-Fair Work Australia as Worst Choices Lite.
Although the state is an instrument for class rule its actions are constrained by the relative strength of the classes. No ruling class can get everything it needs all of the time. That is true around the jobs. The state is thus one more site for conflict.

5. ‘Great ideals’
Going on strike for a shorter day is always a step towards taking more control over all aspects of our lives. Those extra hours of free time leave us with more energy to engage in all manner of activities. The shorter day from the late 1850s gave time for play, and for education – technical and political. Each of those activities enriches us as social individuals. Games and study are work in the sense that all labour is an expression of our capacities.
Touch One Touch All
The shorter day provided some of the means for strengthening the campaigns to tame capital across the board. Striking to stop earlier each day and to work for fewer weeks and years opened the way towards broader and deeper challenges.

In 1916, a Melbourne union secretary, Dan Mulvogue, put it this way: ‘Every new demand for better physical protection of the workers ensures a great ideal development for a future generation.’ Those ideals flow from stopping work and from working alongside others of our class.

The ‘boon’ was only a start. Stone- masons still put in a six-day week of forty- eight hours. A forty-hour week was not won until 1948. Shop-assistants and domestic servants put in 84-hour weeks.

6. Never done
Unpaid work around the home, almost entirely by women, did not change much until the 1950s. After more married women were forced into the paid workforce, those hours came on top of their housework. They could just about manage to do both by using some of their wages to pay off washing machines on hire-purchase and by buying more pre- prepared foodstuffs. In these ways, they delivered a double ‘boon’ to capital. Their unequal rates of pay allowed capital to extract more surplus-value. Because households had to buy in more commodities, working mothers perform a further service for capital by turning the surplus-value that is present in those goods into profit for accumulation to fund the next bout of expansion.

7. Bosses strike back
From the start, the bosses were hard at work devising ways to reclaim what they had lost. What had they lost? They had lost the surplus- value that their wage-slaves used to add in the hours above eight out of twenty-four.
To reclaim that sum of surplus-value, the bosses imposed speed-ups and piece-rates. Workers enjoying the ‘boon’ on piece-rates had to work harder during their eight-hours to earn as much as they had done on a set amount of money per day.
Within thirty years, Master Builders had displaced most of the expensive craft of stone-masonry by brickwork. In the process, these contractors attacked the costs of bricklaying by replacing complicated patterns of headers and stretchers with the ‘colonial’ bond of nothing but stretchers up to two storeys. The brickies too were put on piece- rates of so much cash for laying a thousand. Their off-siders fought to limit the number of bricks they had to carry up ladders.
The fate that befell the stone-masons shows that there are no permanent victories. The degree of exploitation is limited by resistance collectively in unions. In the current 24/7 market for our labour-power, a forty- hour week seems like a fantasy.
WSN  Right To Strike flyler - front page - FINAL
8. Capital strikes
No statute punishes bosses if they ‘stop work’. Instead, they are punished by the key to capitalism, that is, exploitation. If bosses stop their work of oppressing us, they can’t pocket any of the wealth we provide.
Yet capital does go on strike. Its agents refuse to re-invest. Indeed, they can get what they need even if they only threaten to do so. Without the pressure of mass movements, governments come to heel. Most of these sell- outs are kept secret under ‘commercial-in- confidence’ clauses. One from 1985 is on record.
Michael O'Connor CFMEU

The Hawke-Keating removal of exchange controls threw open the doors and windows to speculators of every shape, size and shadiness. The Treasurer of the Year soon found that he could never be supine enough to suit those gougers. He got no end of a lesson on how financiers take care of the interests of capital. Late in July 1985, the New York bank Salomon Brothers phoned a senior Treasury official to regret that it was having difficulty in supporting Australia in the money markets. Foreign investors were angry at a new 15 per cent tax on their interest and dividends payments. Within hours, Keating withdrew the tax along with a limit on foreign holdings in real estate.
Arthur Rorris
In public, the corporates blame ‘market forces’ for their inability to re-invest: ‘We can’t make average rates of profits,’ they bleat and close down.
The bosses don’t welcome that explanation when we wage-slaves say that ‘market forces’ of price hikes are obliging us to stop work to maintain our real incomes.

Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate … We seldom, indeed, hear of this combination, because it is the usual, and one may say the natural state of things which nobody ever hears of.
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776)
Thomas Mayor
9. The value of work
Despite the terrible conditions under which most wage-slaves are still forced to sell our labour-power, going to paid work delivers essential benefits. Everything we humans do, and think, is some kind of work. Those activities are otherwise called labour, or the exercise of our capacities as human beings. Reading these pages is thus one kind of work, though it is far from the paid work of a wage- slave under the rule of capital.

Within the galaxy of sensuous human activities, labour makes the immensity of its effects felt though specifics. One example is a father showing his daughter how to form her letters; another was Milton composing Paradise Lost for five pounds; a third is a Filipina scanning in a first edition of that poem for Google Books. Labour is a galley-slave pulling on an oar, a serf spreading muck, or a wage-slave inserting transistors into a smart phone.

Only the third example in each set is work for wages. Paid work is part of the totality of action and thinking that has made us human. How we work and for what ends decides whether our labour will add or detract from our humanness, as individuals and as a species. In today’s Australia, that outcome is still decided within the iron cage of our being compelled to work to enrich others.
That fact brings us back to why ‘stopping work’ and ‘working’ can be understood only when brought together.

For wage-slaves, stopping work by going on strike is one means to secure more of the values that we add when working for wages. Striking also controls the conditions of health and safety under which we work and live.

10. Then and Now
Bust the Budget Melbourne  2014
In 1970, the Queensland Trades and Labour Council blue-banned oil exploration on the Great Barrier Reef. That refusal is why we still have a Reef to defend.

What would happen today under the ALP’s un-Fair Work Australia? If unions placed bans on the Adami coal mine in order to protect the Reef, each union could be hit with fines of up to a million dollars and every worker up to $7,000.

Preserving the Reef is but one example of workers defending our communities. Just before the ban on the Reef, unions and community groups united around the South Coast Organisation Opposing Pollution (SCOOP) to protect water catchments from Clutha mining.
Our duties towards our class includes putting a stop to capital’s plundering the wealth of nature. Socialism is the road to sustainable survival.
Capitalist production, therefore, only develops … by simultaneously undermining the original sources of all wealth – the soil and the worker.
Marx, Capital, page 638.

11. The air we breathe
From the 1970s, unionists refused to work with asbestos. They prevented its going into schools. In 2017, companies are importing asbestos products. If workers take action on the job to protect themselves and the public from the deadly substance, they face prosecution and massive penalties because the stoppage was not ‘a protected action’.

By contrast, the dodgy and deadly directors of Hardie Brothers suffered no more than a ban from their holding company directorships. One of the widows voiced her outrage at such unequal treatment: ‘There is no appeal from the grave.’
Not so long ago, the on-site death of a worker meant no more work there that day, with no loss of pay. Those stoppages were marks of respect. And they hit irresponsible employers in the hip-pocket nerve. Those costs were felt years before the guilty firm got a slap on the wrist from the courts.
Under the Building and Construction Commission (A.B.C.C.) – Gillard’s ‘tough cop on the block’ – those expressions of decency and self-defence incur fines larger than any imposed on lethal employers. Indeed, the C.F.M.E.U, and individual members were charged with holding a meeting off-site to take up a collection for the family of a workmate murdered for profit.

12. Whose ‘Good Old Days’?

Time was, only 300 years ago, that freeborn Britishers who failed to sell their labour- power could be whipped or have an ear cut off. Only 200 years ago, the poor were being strung up or transported to Australia for petty thefts.

Convicts went ‘on strike’. Since it was harder for them to stop outright or to walk-off, they ran away. On the job, they found plenty of ways to resist super-exploitation. One means of self-defence was to pretend not to understand orders. The inventiveness of the oppressed is limitless.

SA May day

SA May day

During the next more enlightened phase of liberal justice, the jobless were locked up in industrial prisons known as Workhouses.

Once workers did sign on, they came under Masters and Servants Acts.
Those laws assumed the existence of an implied contract between employer and employee. Both parties could be punished for breaking their agreement. Sounds fair. Except that the law was enforced by the boss’s friends and fellow Masters.

Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC

Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC

The masters never cease to call aloud for the assistance of the civil magistrate, and the rigorous execution of those laws which have been enacted with so much severity against the combinations of servants, labourers, and journeymen.
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776)
Worse still, the inequality of these implied contracts meant that workers had no redress if injured or killed on the job. Until 1880, English law presumed that they had accepted the ‘risk’. The courts decided that the worker’s ‘risk’ was only ‘fair’. After all, the judges reasoned, capitalists had accepted the risk that they might not profit from the labourers they put in harm’s way.
The mentality of ‘master and servant’ persisted in the High Court which used those terms as late as 1986.

13. Illegal combinations
Taking any kind of united action to protect one’s wages and conditions was a criminal offence in Britain before 1825. Rewriting that scrap of paper did not stop repression. Laws blocked the self-organisation of the British working-class until the early 1900s.
In 1834, agricultural labourers in the Dorset hamlet of Tolpuddle banded together to resist a cut in their wages from nine to six shillings a week.

Although their combination was by then legal, the state got them under a law which forbade the taking of ‘unlawful oaths’. The farm labourers had sworn to stand truly by each other. They were sentenced to seven-years transportation to Australia.

joe hill

joe hill

A mass campaign won their release two years later. That fight did far more to secure our freedom to combine than had the repeal of the Anti-Combination Act ten years earlier.

No matter what is written in a Statute book, our rights depend on our preparedness to put them into effect. On paper, we might have rights to do all manner of things. The ruling class and of its agents in the state are forever on the lookout for ways to stymie our exercise of those ‘rights’. From our side of the class divide, our right to strike is decided by our capacity to do so. That ‘right’ exists whether or not there is a clause in some law or other saying it’s okay. We’ll never get from the courts what we can’t hold at the gate.

14. Old provinces of law and order
Until the early 1900s, relations between capital and labour fell under commercial law and criminal law. To contain the growing strength of the working class, the local agents of the capital devised ‘a New Province for Law and Order’, to be known as Industrial Law. Its pains and penalties were never enough to give capital the upper hand in every case. Hence, Industrial Law had to be reinforced by other repressive measures.

From 1914, the War Precautions Act heralded a drive towards industrial conscription. According to the Solicitor- General:
The regulations were mostly expressed widely to make sure that nothing necessary was omitted, and the result soon was that John Citizen was hardly able to lift a finger without coming under the penumbra of some technical offence against the War Precautions Regulations.

In 1929, the secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall, Ted Holloway, was convicted under the War Precautions Repeal Act (1920) for encouraging something like a strike. That was 10 years after the war and 9 years after the Act had been ‘repealed’. The 1926 Crimes Act made striking a criminal offence in sections of the work force not under the Commonwealth Arbitration Act. In addition, the state used the Immigration Act to deport or refuse entry to militants even if British subjects.

To break strikes, the state recruited special constables. The 500 signed up in 1925 became the germ cell for the fascist New Guard in New South Wales from 1930. In 1949, the Chifley government sent regular troops into the coal fields; the Labor cabinet also made it a criminal offence to collect or accept strike funds for the miners’ families. Menzies did the same on the wharves a couple of years later. The 1950-51 attempt to ban the Communist Party aimed to cut the head off militant unions by putting 1,000 union leaders behind barbed wire.
Laws and government in every case are a combination of the rich to oppress the poor, and preserve to themselves the inequality of goods.
Adam Smith, Lectures on Jurisprudence (1769)

15. Organising capital
The state organises capital and disorganises workers. Politicians, bureaucrats and judges attempt to achieve for the expansion of capital what its managers cannot deliver through their corporations.
One way to disorganise workers is to organise us into tame-cat or company unions such as the AWU and SDA. A second route was to lock us into Conciliation and Arbitration.

That system regimented the workforce through penal powers. Their impact lasted until the wages breakout late in the 1960s. The number of days lost through industrial action shot from one million in 1968 to three million in 1971.

Breaking point came when the Communist Secretary of the Melbourne Tramways Union, Clarrie O’Shea, refused to hand over his members’ money to pay yet another of these fines.
Dyson dump
In May 1969, the upsurge erupted after the gaoling of Victorian Tramways official Clarrie O’Shea by none other than CIA agent Sir John Kerr as a judge of the Industrial Court. Hundreds of thousands walked off. These huge nation-wide stoppages were the result of careful preparations around hundreds of job sites with walk-offs elsewhere.

The Melbourne Age feared that wild-cat strikes and street protests might turn into a local version of Paris ’68. To short-circuit that threat, ASIO put up the $10,000 for a front man to ‘pay’ the fines.

Since 1969, every legal and industrial move by the bosses and their agents has sought to restore the clout they lost in May 1969.

16. The labour lieutenants of capital
The bosses and their state had to find fresh ways to preserve the ‘inequality of goods’. They moved to put their friends into high places in the labour movement and to find new ways of using old laws.

The U.S. Labour Attaché, Emil Lindahl, flew to Melbourne in March 1969 to meet Hawke in the Downtowner Motel. Lindahl came out of their negotiations to inform Santamaria’s Groupers that the Embassy would be backing Hawke for A.C.T.U. President. The C.I.A. feared that A.C.T.U. secretary Souter lacked the street cred to divert the militant tide into safe channels. Hawke, Souter and the Groupers were all labour lieutenants of capital. They were not all equally useful in every circumstance.
Nation-wide strikes erupted after the C.I.A-sponsored coup against the Whitlam government in November 1975 but were headed off at the pass by that U.S. agent of influence, R.J. Hawke as President of the A.C.T.U. ‘Stay at work and donate a day’s pay to Labor’, he bleated. The worst he could do next year was to confine protests against Fraser’s shredding of Medibank to a one-day stoppage.

17. Torts
No sooner had the O’Shea strike made the penal powers pretty much a dead letter than lawyers reverted to the powers offered to capital under Commercial Law.

One of its strands is known as ‘torts’, which is legalese for ‘wrongs’, or harms. Torts allow bosses to bring actions for damages out of any workplace stoppage. Under tort law, a strike could be interpreted as harming a business in the same way as if it had suffered from price- fixing by a cartel. Employers could sue to reclaim any loss of income. Unions faced worse than fines of just a few thousand dollars. Bosses had the right to seize all their assets by way of compensation.

Britain unions won protection from tort actions in 1906. At that time, Australian unions assumed that they were safe because of the Conciliation and Arbitration Acts. Their mistake was revealed sixty-four years later with the first of the new tort actions in South Australia in 1970. The labour movement was strong enough to make sure that the State Labor government legislated to provide the immunity that existed in Britain. That protection did not extend to the rest of the country or to Federal awards.

18. Strategy and tactics
The tussles that score every workplace every hour of the day are essential to ward off attacks on the conditions that we struggled to win. But holding the line is poor strategy even for a tactical defence. To hold what we have won, we must advance. That is what our class enemies do at every opportunity.

19. The inventiveness of capital
The il-logic of capitalism delivers powerful blows against the right to strike when job losses make workers wary about joining dole queues. With the unemployment rate around 10 percent in the early 1980s, bosses struck out. Legal guns for hire led by Peter Costello at Mallesons came up with fresh lines of attack.
MUA Portland

Robe River, Mugginburra, Dollar Sweets and S.E.Q.E.B. each opened a novel front in the battle for workers to retain any level of collective representation. CRA put its entire workforce in the Pilbara onto ‘staff contracts’. Hawke-Keating government went further by introducing Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (E.B.A.s). Phoney sub-contracting ballooned. Since the GST, ABNs have been waved about to con workers into believing that they are their own Masters.
Not that the old weapons had been thrown aside.

In 1985, the Industrial Commission whacked the Plumbers with a half-million dollar fine, which was at least ten times more than for similar offences in the past. The enormity of that punishment was to teach the rest of the unions a lesson. When Commissioner Jim Staples refused to act as a stand-over merchant, the Hawke-Keating crew locked him out from hearing further cases.

In 1998, Patricks were hand-in-glove with Industrial Relations minister Reith to clear the M.U.A. off the docks. They did not get away with their conspiracy because of the upsurge of union and community opposition along the picket lines.
The lesson from these various lines of attack is that here is nothing they won’t try. As nasty as the attack dogs are, the bosses’ offensives do not flow from personality failings. Rather, the viciousness of a Gillard or a Rhinehart, of Howard, Reith and Abbott, comes to the fore in order to deliver the rate of profit that corporations need to survive.

20. Time is money
The bribe of a short-term boost to take-home pay comes at the cost of surrendering any say over the length and intensity of the working day. Even tame-cat unions can retard that.
Exploitation is not just a race to the bottom with wages. More important to capital is its right to set the pace of work. Capital extracts at least as much value by speeding up the application of labour as it can by holding down real wages.

21. Mal-Practice
The authors of the Australian Constitution included Corporations in the list of matters over which the Commonwealth Parliament could make laws. They included that sub-section in line with the efforts of U.S. reformers to curb the monopolising Trusts. An attempt along those lines here in 1906 flopped. Nothing more was attempted until the 1960s with a pretty weak effort. The big change came when Section 45D of the Trade Practices Act was turned away from breaking price-fixing cartels and towards outlawing secondary boycotts by their working-class victims. That deform blocked class solidarity such as transport workers demonstrated in refusing to carry the produce of scab labour.

Instead of using the Corporations power to go after crooked companies, the law treats unions as if they are profit-gouging multi-nationals.
In brief, Industrial Law has been knocked off by updated enforcements of the commercial and criminal law.

22. Royal Commissions
The one-sidedness of the law is obvious. Since 1971, six Royal Commissions have attacked trade unions. No Royal Commission has gone after the swindlers holed up in the Big Four Banks.

Heldon dumps on workers

Heldon dumps on workers

All six Commissions have targeted construction workers. They are singled out for two reasons. First, the hazards of their work and the uncertainty of their employment keep them militant. Secondly, construction work is not as amenable to mass production as are process lines. Therefore, the companies need the state to intervene around the jobs as a second-line of foremen. One example is the A.B.C.C.’s fining a worker who gets back more than five minutes late from lunch.

The founder of Transfield, Franco Belgiorno-Nettis, told his company’s official historian that he and other businessmen cover up their crimes ‘with a veneer of civilisation’. Transfield hides its crimes by patronising the visual arts. Along with the criminal Dick Pratt, his kind of philanthropists are never subject to the endless grilling of Ark Tribe who refused to dob in his workmates.

23. Relative strengths
Our living and working conditions are decided by the relative strengths of the contending classes. Those strengths flow from the confidence each class gathers from its cultural confidence, workplace militancy and political nous. For capital, those attributes are buttressed by the state. For workers, our strengths are bent whenever as the state imposes compulsory arbitration, compulsory schooling and military conscription.

Class confidence grows with moral authority. Fundamental to our sense of our worth as workers is our recognition that all extra wealth comes only from the application of our labour to the wealth of nature. The bosses add nothing. The agents of capital certainly work hard. They work hard at screwing as much value out of us as they can. They lengthen the working-day – especially unpaid overtime. They intensify the application of labour with speed-ups and time- and-motion studies. They install machines to assist them in both those ways of extracting the maximum surplus-value from our capacities.

24. Hegemony
How the past, the present and our future are represented in schools and on the mass media shapes our willingness to act collectively. Classrooms and screens, large and small, project generals, monarchs and high-flyers as the makers of history. Those depictions also affect how a wider public interpret our actions, whether at work or on strike.

It has been thus from the time millions of straining naked slaves built that magnificence which was Babylon, and those monuments which are known as the Pyramids. … They will remain unhonoured till workers write the histories that are taught in our schools.
Charlie Sullivan, founder of the Shearers Union (1927).

When does our class lead the evening news? Only when we strike. How often does the media remind viewers that not a single wheel would turn without our labour? Never! This bias in reporting is buttressed by the picture of life in television serials. They are dominated by trained killers in the armed forces, and by law enforcers, whether police or lawyers or judges. The likes of us are there to serve the drinks. Even when a TV series centers on workers, the scripts are not built on the application of our labour– still less on its exploitation. Meal-time squabbles pad out the canned laughter.
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How often do you see a series about the super-exploitation by the likes of 7-Eleven? Never shall we see a single episode revealing the appropriation of surplus-value from every one of us, throughout our working hours.

Should a TV show expose corporate executives as crooks it is for their robbing each other or the government rather than all of their employees every second of the day. When did you see a crime or medical series built around the minute-by-minute struggle for health and safety? The rash of programs like C.S.I. never focuses on solving the crime of workplace killings for profit.

Given the weight of this propaganda – for that is what the ‘true’ news and entertainment are – it is amazing that so many workers join unions. It is even more remarkable that so many uphold our rights, both in and outside our workplaces.

25. Free labourers are wage-slaves
Chattel slaves are owned body and soul from the day they are born until the day they die. On paper, we wage-slaves are owned only for the hours which we have sold our labour-power to capital. The judge of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, H.B. Higgins, laid down this rule out in 1913: ‘working time is time purchased by the employer, who has exclusive right to it.’
Viewed in light of property relations, however, capitalists ‘own’ the right to control our capacities whether they employ them or not. That class power is one more reason for seeing ‘free’ labour as wage-slavery.

We are ‘free’ to sell our capacities to add value – or starve, beg or steal. We wage- slaves are ‘free’ because our class was violently ‘freed’ from the resources to sustain itself. Our forebears had that freedom imposed on them when they were ‘freed’ from ownership of the resources to keep themselves. In short, that freedom compels us to become wage-slaves. We are conscripted into the marketplace for labour.

26. A moment or two of truth
The big lie behind Worst Choices was that equality is possible between an individual cleaner and a global corporate with its hired guns from Freehills.

The politician-lawyer who drafted the Australian Constitution, ‘Slippery Sam’ Griffith, spelt out the truth about exploitation after reading Marx’s Capital.
In 1888, Griffith introduced a bill into the Queensland Legislature to redistribute wealth to the workers. Workers are its only true producers, he argued. Infringement of that ‘law of natural right’ threatened social chaos.
Griffith expounded his reading of Marx in a long essay, ‘The Distribution of Wealth’. He agreed with those who recognise that there is something radically wrong in the present system, under which capital is constantly accumulating in greater masses than ever in single hands.
Like Marx, Griffith could see the coming of monopolising capitals, which Lenin called Imperialism.

Moreover, Griffith asserted that justice in labor contracts depended on the existence of unions. He thought it ‘notorious that there is not ordinarily, any such equal freedom of contract between the employer and the employed.’ He concluded that a measure of freedom of contract has been obtained by combination on the part of the labourers. This very combination is an effort of strength put forth against the other part to the bargain, who, but for the combination, (and sometimes in spite of it), would be the stronger. The weaker party has, in order to procure the means of livelihood, to accept the terms which the stronger party chooses to give.

Two years later, Griffith reverted to serving his class when he sent troops against the shearers’ camp at Barcaldine.

The industrialist takes into account the fact that people exist who are hungry, and that those other people in the spiked helmets will prevent them using physical force simply to take the means where they find them which could serve to allay their hunger …
Max Weber, 190.

Griffith demonstrated that it one thing to glimpse the truth about class exploitation and an entirely different thing to live by that truth on the side of the oppressed.

Today, ‘Oily Sam’ is the patron saint of the constitutional monarchists in a Society named after him. Its membership overlaps with that of the union-bashing H.R. Nicholls Society.

Would any member of any Australian parliament repeat Griffith’s analysis of the economic and political inequalities? Still less likely is that the ALP or the Greens would legislate his prescriptions for redressing income and workplace imbalances?

27. On your own time
Columnists for Mass Murdoch tell us: ‘Pensioners are worse off and you don’t see them going on strike.’ Why not? For a start, they don’t have the ‘power’ to deny capital the chance to profit from the value that workers must sell to exist.

Mass Murdoch might acknowledge ‘a right to strike’ – in theory. His hacks are stern in insisting that we withdraw our labour only at times when we can’t inconvenience anybody. By that reckoning, the right time to strike is during one’s own time – after work, or during one’s holidays.

One problem with that bad joke is that fewer and fewer of us have as much ‘free’ time. Those in work are time poor. Many of us chase between two and three part-time jobs. Part- time temporaries are not entitled to statutory holidays, to four weeks annual leave, or long- service leave. The retirement age is being pushed up to 70. At this rate, we’ll have to postpone striking until we are in our graves.

28. Crippling
Stopping work by going out on strike is only an extension of all the ways by which working people protect ourselves from the harms of the workplace. We go-slow to make sure that the only commodity we have to sell in order to survive will see us through the day, the year – a lifetime. Burnt-out workers swelled the ranks of disability pensioners – until Gillard tightened the eligibility criteria.

Bullying and harassments are forms of workplace discipline. No surprise then that they are almost universal. Office blocks are Towers of Misery and have taken the place of the Dark Satanic Mills in the early 1800s. Those in work are crippled psychologically even when not materially. Immiserisation reigns even where impoverishment is kept at bay.

A life which is fractured by scurrying between jobs each day is stripped of the social well-being that comes with making friends at work.

29. Flexible breaking-points
In recent decades, we have been caught in a vicious circle. The weakening of our capacities to strike has resulted in a loss of control over the hours during which we are made to work. The more ‘flexible’ those hours have become to suit the exploiters, the harder it becomes for us to organise and strike.

Only by acting collectively can we secure any of our goals. The co-operation that is essential around the job one basis for the solidarity that underpins collective action to control how we carry out our work.

30. War is also paid work
Working people are conscripted into the armed forces on behalf of the corporate warfare state, that is, the capitalist class as a whole.
Well before Gallipoli disaster of April 1915 had begun, Australian workers were refusing to be conscripted for a sordid trade war. By defeating the plebiscites to compel overseas service in October 1916 and again in December 1917, our forebears held back a more overt dictatorship. Industrial conscription threatened a wider loss of their capacity to struggle around the jobs and in the community.

Dole-queue patriots in 1938 refused to load the Wolfram with pig-iron for the Japanese militarists to slaughter more Chinese. After the war, seamen and wharfies refused to load and crew ships carrying weapons for the Dutch colonists to suppress Indonesian independence. Twenty years later, seamen voted not crew cargo ships carrying supplies to wage war against the peoples of Indo-China. That leadership spread until ‘Stop Work to Stop the War’ strengthened the Moratorium of the early 1970s. Peace is union business.

In the late 1960s, Draft Resisters who stood against the lottery of death were on strike against ecocide in Indo-China.
None of these ‘strikes’ was legal. None was to gain what the capitalist media blackguard as ‘selfish’ ends. All expressed the ideals of a movement which understands why ‘The Unity of Labour is the Hope of the World’.

Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC

Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC

31. Social into socialism
Taking industrial action goes beyond demands for higher wages and shorter hours. Workplace and community campaigns unite to secure advances in the five pillars of everyday life: housing, employment, health, transport and education.

In the depression of the 1890s and again in the 1930s, unionists formed squads to defend the unemployed against eviction and prevent the repossession of their furniture.

Comparable efforts are now stopping expressways and extending rail links, to protect farmland and water from coal seam gas.
32. An agenda of our own
As well as strikes over hours, wages and safety, we need to combine struggles within workplaces with community action for a new social order in which our needs are assured. To be chained down to demands for more dollars in the pocket fails to challenge the nature and delivery of those social goods. Our movement thereby loses sight of socialism.

33. Worker control
Pivotal to such a society will be democratic workplaces. We shall never attain democratic workplaces without democratically run unions and political organisations. Rank-and-file participation at every level prepares our class for taking charge of our entire society.

Taking control of our work involves the most practical of demands:
> control over health and safety, both physical and mental, for instance, by choosing our own health and safety reps;
> take control of the length of the working day; > make ‘flexibility’ serve our needs and not maximise value-snatching by corporates;
> control the intensity of the application of our labour . That is what railway workers did during the great strike in 1917 by refusing to be subject to time-and-motion regimes.

The mechanical appliances consist of a chronometer and a motion picture camera. This invention is the most powerful tool ever for the measurement of efficiency, suggesting the whip of taskmasters and owners in earlier times.
Editorial, Australasian Engineering and Machinery, 1913.

34. Who needs them?
Self-managed workplaces build on the fact that it is our work alone which builds this and every other country. We can produce the goods and services our society needs without being stood over to produce more surplus- value for parasites. They need us. Let them go on strike and we’ll see who starves.
All the while, the Business Council knows that its global corporate members are on the nose. Their chairperson claims that it is capital which provides jobs. The reverse is true. We wage-slaves are the only ones who can add value to the wealth of nature. Out of that added value can flow the profit for accumulation and the next rounds of profit- taking. Hence, it is we workers who keep putting up the money-capital to re-employ ourselves and each other.

35. Four freedoms
To reinforce our rights at work we had to win rights to protest, to march in the streets and to hold meetings in public places. No surprise then that the Victorian Government made such activities illegal to protect corporations from public outrage.

It is our struggles which won and sustain such political freedoms as we retain. Here is an update on the truth uttered by Hobart union organiser Samuel Champ 100 years ago:

Our liberties have not been won by mining magnates (Gina Rinehart) or merchant bankers (Malcolm Turnbull) or media barons (Mass Murdoch). Such liberties as we enjoy result from the struggles of men and women of the working-class who died on the gallows, languished in dungeons, and are buried in nameless graves. It is to them that we owe the liberties we enjoy today.

Our right to vote came from breaking bad laws – think suffragettes. Our forebears had to break bad laws to gain freedom of speech, of assembly and of the press. Activists spoke on street corners without permits and marched down roadways without by-your-leave from the walloppers.

At Eureka in 1854, Italians, Germans, Irish, Yankees and Anglos combined to break a bad law. The men and women who built and defended the stockade had committed treason. No doubt about it. No jury could be found to uphold bad laws by convicting the rebels.
Ex-convict editors who had offended the Governors kept their newspapers running
from their prison cells at Hobart and Sydney. London printers in the 1820s lined up to serve prison terms so they could publish without a licence.
Mass Murdoch deserves to die in gaol. If he does, it won’t be because he has broken bad laws that limit expression on every continent. Rather, he is as great an enemy of a free press as is any of the authoritarian regimes to which he kowtows in order to profit.

36. Walk-offs
The Gurindji walked off Wave Hill Station in 1966-67 to assert unbroken ties to their ancestral lands. They were acting in the tradition of the Port Headland mob in the Black Eureka in 1946. Seven years earlier, 170 residents had walked off Cummeragunja reserve; their protest helped to secure amendments to the misnamed N.S.W. Protection Act.

In each case, the labour movement supported those ‘strikes’. The founding chair of the Aborigines Progressive Association in 1963 explained why:
‘Aborigines are a working class people and it is only natural that we appeal to our fellow workers in the unions to support us in our struggle for justice and equality.’

The 1975 documentary Protected tells the story of the 1957 strike on Palm Island which the Queensland government broke by transferring seven of the leaders to other Reserves, that is, prisons. Fifty years on, Palm saw another ‘strike’ captured by the film The Tall Man.

37. Making ourselves human
The application of our capacities – our labour – has made us human, both as a species and as individuals. Stopping work, like work itself, is a positive, not a negative. Striking and controlling the hours and intensity of our paid work reaffirm our humanity at many levels. Controlling when, how and why we perform paid work expresses and enriches our humanness.

38. Fewer is not better
In considering the prospects for regaining our right to strike by putting it into practice, we have to begin from four facts about union membership today. It is down to fewer than one wage-slave in six; density has not been so low since the 1930s depression. Moreover, the bulk of members are in the government sector. Most are women. Most males are in older age groups.
In many workplaces, the task will be to rebuild from zero membership, and then to advance one by one.

39. Sub-sub-subbies
A dynamic is in play against our reversing these downward trends. That obstacle is how capital now recruits and directs its wage- how capital recruits and directs its wage-slaves.

Need to replace your fence? To have your carpets cleaned? Your children minded after school? The person who turns up will be ‘self-employed’. That con job starts when sixteen-year olds are told to register for GST and get themselves an Australian Business Number. They labour under the pretense that they are not workers but start-up capitalists.
The victims of this fraud soon learn what it means to be without protection and entitlements. They also learn what it means not to get paid at all. Their own unpaid bills then drive them towards suicide.

Yet the structure of today’s workforce is such that unless you subject yourself to a labour-hire parasite you don’t get work. And if you complain you don’t get shifts. Grumbling is useless unless we organise as Uber drivers are doing. (See Clifford Odets’ 1935 play about a cabbies strike in New York, Waiting for Lefty.)

40. One big union ticket?
Recruiting therefore faces the problem of how to offer cover to casuals who undertake two or more kinds of low-paying jobs across the year, often every week. If it’s hard enough to get younger workers to join one union let alone stay financial in two, or even three. One way through this problem is for ACTU affiliates to accept a single ticket to keep membership affordable for working students. Given the fractured nature of ever more working lives, this joint-membership might need to be extended.

41. To stand by each other
Fewer workers have any experience of engaging in any kind of industrial stoppage.

Most of our unelected officials clearly don’t know how to organise even a couple of hours of protected action. How many unionists are prepared to take unprotected action today? Fairfax journalists did so after the latest round of dismissals. Those sackings spotlight the bosses’ right to take unprotected action. Cricketers could stay out for months because the Players Association is not registered under Gillard’s Un-Fair Work Australia.

Much of the sense of what we can achieve together has been lost. That strength will never be regained just by selling tickets. Being corralled by the chain-stores into the SDA is enough to turn any teen off unionism for life.

Solidarity will be renewed only from taking action to ‘stand truly by each other’, to quote the 1854 Eureka Oath.

Our ‘right’ to strike has never been handed down from on high. Never will it be. Our right to strike is a precious gift which we win and hold for each other by putting it into practice.

One way to rebuild a labour movement with the determination to take unprotected action suggest getting friends and fellow workers around to watch and discuss.

To discuss means ‘discuss’ and neither to hector nor to lecture. To rebuild is first of all to listen.

The aim of all agitation is to encourage the sense of ‘I could do that.’

See my earlier posts on the right to strike.

Update: Stop the corporate LNP war on workers Tue, 21 Nov 2017 06:00:34 +0000 I post more on the relentless corporate and LNP attack on workers and their unions and our response.

New anti-union laws: Stop the war on workers
Employment minister Michaelia Cash and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull discuss how they plan to destroy the unions.
by SUE BULL November 11, 2017
Four years on — after the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption and the re-introduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) — several unions have begun campaigning against another set of laws.

These laws have tame, even innocuous names like the Proper Use of Workers Benefits Bill, the Corrupting Benefits legislation and the Ensuring Integrity Bill. They also target secondary issues like superannuation, entitlement funds or the abilities of unions to merge.

“Everyone should be worried that this is an attack on democracy by interfering with the running of unions,” McManus said on September 12. “Whenever the job of unions is made harder, it hurts all working people, that is time and money we won’t be able to spend raising wages and making jobs more secure.”

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union national construction secretary Dave Noonan has outlined exactly what the Proper Use of Worker Benefits Bill has been designed to do.

He notes on the union’s website that this legislation could lead to the loss of apprentice jobs and the union movement’s ability to deliver health and safety courses.

Noonan wrote: “[The] bill seeks to control worker entitlement funds, which support workers who are made redundant. Interest from these funds supports health, safety and welfare programs, training and education in one of the most dangerous industries with high rates of suicide”.

Noonan told a Senate Committee hearing on October 30 that what the government is proposing is an unprecedented and unwarranted level of control and interference over union funds, for which there is no equivalent in the corporate world.

If passed, the bill would prohibit donations to welfare or charitable organisations, meaning support for programs such as Mates in Construction, a mental health/self-harm and suicide prevention program, would be made illegal.

The ACTU has also been at pains to point out the shortcomings of legislation undermining superannuation funds.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said on November 1: “We are deeply troubled that the government would make changes to super which will not address the massive theft of workers’ super, but in fact make it worse.

“Instead, the government has decided to attack working people, open up their financial security to the scandal plagued big banks, and make it harder for unions to do their job standing up for working people.”

The ACTU’s Change the Rules campaign is aimed at uniting workers to defend their interests and oppose the raft of anti-union legislation being put forward by the federal government.

The Change the Rules Campaign Kit issues a call to action, asking workers to join their union and get involved. “Once we build our movement, we will need to fight for the solutions,” it reads.

Strong stuff if it leads to unions coming out onto the streets to confront the entitled bluster and bankrupt rhetoric of the likes of Cash and Turnbull.
Read here

Statement from ACTU President Ged Kearney:
Ged ACTU Congress 2015
The Australian Council of Trade Unions is calling for all controversial IR legislation to be put on hold until we can know for certain who is, and who isn’t, eligible to sit in the Federal Parliament.

There are currently five pieces of controversial industrial relations and superannuation legislation before the parliament. Three bills give more power to the big banks over working people’s financial security, and the other two give more power to the ROC, which is currently embroiled in the controversy over the police raid on union offices.
Read here
Change the Rules Campaign Kit

Heldon dumps on workers

Heldon dumps on workers

Union campaigning training for union delegates
Background to Hedyon’s attack on unions
Sydney rally November
Thousands of Workers in their unions rally in Sydney to protest Turnbull/Cash attack on our rights to organise. Campaign to change the rules.
See FB Sydney rally November

On Minister Cash
Stop the War on Workers
Rally against Ugly Esso

The system is broken. Esso’s corporate greed is out of control.
Together with contractor UGL, Esso is slashing the wages & conditions of hundreds of Gippsland workers.
Esso is ripping off consumers with outrageously high gas prices.
And Esso is even avoiding paying its fair share of tax. In fact in 2014-15 they paid NO tax on $8.4 billion revenue.
We need to return power to the hands of working people.
We need to change the rules.
Make sure you get down to this rally to support the Esso workers who have been out on the picket line for over 145 days.
We need to show greedy corporations like Esso that working people are standing up and fighting back!
Melbourne Rally Midday VTHC Wednesday 22nd November 2017
Listen to the union delegate FB
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The Government Is Targeting Unions When They Should Really Be Worried About Your Pay Packet
In this lopsided contest between workers and employers, workers need all the help they can get.
…The more aggressive its attacks on the union movement become, the further the government sinks in the polls. And the failure of its scapegoating strategy does not solely reflect errors in political judgment.
…Data on labour compensation per hour of work (from the GDP accounts) suggest nominal wages actually fell 0.5 percent over the past year — the worst showing since World War II.

Many other indicators confirm workers need more power, not less, and hence that the government’s anti-union crusade is fundamentally misplaced. The share of GDP paid to workers fell to its lowest point since the ABS began collecting the data.

Minimum wages are one-quarter lower than 30 years ago, relative to overall wages. Union membership is down to 13 percent of total employment, in large part because of decades of unremitting legislative hostility. Enterprise agreement coverage is collapsing in the private sector, down 25 percent since 2013. The transformation of work from permanent jobs to insecure “gigs” further undermines the ability of workers to demand, and receive, higher pay.

In this lopsided contest between workers and employers, workers need all the help they can get. The power of collective representation is one of the most important tools in their toolbox. It’s no accident that unions and collective bargaining have been the primary target of business-friendly labour law changes over the last generation. But the legacy of that crusade is the stagnation and growing inequality of wages. Most Australians are suffering because of it. And that’s why they’re turning a blind eye to the Coalition’s effort to rouse yet another anti-union witch-hunt.
Read here

Federal Court cracks down on ‘sham’ enterprise agreements
In the first judicial ruling against so-called “sham” enterprise agreements, the Federal Court has overturned a major labour hire deal voted on by just three workers but which later covered more than a thousand in the mining industry.

The precedent ruling against One Key Resources, which is one of the biggest labour providers in the black coal industry, could mean the end of a common practice for labour hire firms that unions argue undercuts wages and conditions.

Justice Geoffrey Flick found One Key Resources’ 2015 enterprise agreement was invalid because three workers with limited job experience could not genuinely agree to a deal that covered 11 job classifications extending well beyond mining and construction and into road transport, clerks and hospitality.


Read more:

How they saved Dave: Worker sacked over undies protest wins back his job
So Dave and his workmates won an EBA with their employer that included a laundry allowance so their dirty work clothes could be cleaned. Despite it being a legal entitlement, the employer refused to pay it. Because our workplace laws are so broken, it is not quick and easy for working people to enforce our rights – even if they are in black and white in an agreement. Employers who refuse get away with it because the independent umpire does not have to power to enforce rights, workers have to go to the expensive and very slow Federal Court. So the workers had a 10 minute protest in their undies to try and convince the boss to abide by the agreement they had made. They sacked the delegate for it.
anti-union laws
It should have never got to this point! We need to change the rules so the independent umpire has teeth again, so it is quick and easy to enforce our rights.
Touch One Touch All
ETU workers win against Crown
Meat pies, kangaroos, class struggle and Holden cars

The reasons for Holden’s closure are primarily the neoliberal economic policies of the Australian government and the economic rationalist decisions of the US giant, General Motors. GM calculates that there are greater profits to be made by centralising production in much larger factories with cheaper labour and greater automation. In the end, it showed no loyalty to its workforce.

Tax evasion, Glencoe and the corporate rich Tue, 07 Nov 2017 22:10:30 +0000 Glencoe1
I post numerous articles on the Paradise Papers, tax evasion e.g. by Glencoe and the rich and powerful.
Workers at Glencore’s Oaky North mine have been locked out for over 100 days. Whilst these workers are fighting for a fair go, their bosses have been dodging tax in Bermuda. So close tax evasion and repeal the right of companies to lock-out their workforce.

“The inside story of Glencore’s hidden dealings in DRC

Leaked files reveal for the first time how the secretive firm enlisted a controversial diamond tycoon – ignoring ‘red flags.’

Revealed: Glencore’s secret loan to secure valuable DRC mining rights.A secretive multinational company worth billions, whose founder turned fugitive was pardoned by a president.

An Israeli diamond tycoon, rumoured to be the inspiration for a Hollywood blockbuster.

And a struggling African nation, blessed and burdened by natural resources, riven by war and corruption.

Behind the black letters of the Paradise Papers lies a world of extraordinary colour.

Obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the Guardian and more than 90 media partners across the globe, the Paradise Papers reveal the reality of the arcane world of offshore tax havens and global finance.
Analysis Everything you need to know about Glencore, Dan Gertler and their interest in DRC
It has been revealed the firm lent millions to the Israeli billionaire to secure a mining deal. Here we answer the key questions
Read more

And they raise serious questions about the conduct of the commodities multinational Glencore and the Israeli mining billionaire Dan Gertler in Africa.

They show that in 2009, Glencore, the world’s biggest mining company, gave a secret $45m loan to Gertler’s company after it enlisted him to secure a controversial mining agreement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Over hundreds of pages, the papers expose in forensic detail how Gertler, whose previous diamond monopoly in DRC was described by the UN as a “disaster” for for the country, held Glencore’s imprimatur as key negotiator with Congolese authorities.
Read more here

The tax trick big miners use to avoid paying millions
By Four Corners and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Glencoe ruthlessly attacks its workforce

Paradise Papers: Glencore hid link to ghost shipping fleet during Iran scandal
Swiss commodities trader Glencore was struggling to contain a looming sanctions busting scandal when it secured Australian government approval to take over mining giant Xstrata in 2013.

The $US90 billion merger with Xstrata in May 2013 transformed Glencore into the third largest mining company in Australia and one of the largest coal producers in the world.

But behind the scenes Glencore was fighting allegations that linked one of its partners to secret deals with Iran, money laundering and bank fraud – claims which if unchecked could have had impacts on the newly merged group.

Read more:



Paradise Papers, Says Sanders, Expose ‘Rapid Movement Toward International Oligarchy’

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says the trove of documents “shows how these billionaires and multinational corporations get richer by hiding their wealth and profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes”
Jessica Corbett, staff writer
Decrying a world “in which a handful of billionaires own and control a significant part of the global economy,” Sanders said the trove of more than 13 million leaked documents detailing offshore dealings “shows how these billionaires and multinational corporations get richer by hiding their wealth and profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes.”

Sanders said the documents expose a “major problem not just for the U.S. but for governments throughout the world.” According to the Guardian, he also
pointed the finger of blame for the flourishing of offshore holdings on both Congress and the Trump administration.
He told the Guardian that Republicans in Congress were responsible for providing “even more tax breaks to profitable corporations like Apple and Nike.”
The same tax breaks, he said, were being seized upon by super-wealthy members of Trump’s cabinet “who avoid billions in U.S. taxes by shifting American jobs and profits to offshore tax havens. We need to close these loopholes and demand a fair and progressive tax system.” read more
More from Sanders:

How big business evades tax while the ATO does bugger all by John Passant,10911

But can we expect government action on this tax evasion
ATO to act

Our Queen is avoiding tax

ALP commits to crack-down

But Turnbull has cut ATO positions

2017 Post elections: Timor Leste governing Sat, 28 Oct 2017 06:28:49 +0000 Timor Leste
I post updates on our nearest democratic neighbour Timor Leste after the 2017 Presidential and Parliamentary elections and the challenges of governing.

A return to belligerent democracy?
The political stalemate in Timor-Leste has three possible outcomes
Read here from Inside Story
From Lowy Institute

Political turbulence in East Timor could delay Greater Sunrise oil and gas treaty by Lindsay Murdoch

Update:TL Agreement in hot water

On Minister Cash Sat, 28 Oct 2017 03:14:07 +0000 Here I post articles exposing PM Turnbull and Minister Cash using the AFP to try to smear the AWU and Shorten by again undermining workers’ basic rights to associate and combine together in unions and to engage in political campaigns against the LNP/corporate bosses.
ACTU Change the Rules campaign
Waleed Aly “The AWU raid was clearly a political act” October 27 2017
…”That the initial complaint came from the government itself, and was directed at the leader of its main political rival makes this an instantly political act.
Then add the fact that the ROC, on whose behalf the AFP was acting, is a creature of the trade unions royal commission – a process whose entire being had clear political overtones. But it’s also the fact that the suspected wrongdoing here was already examined in the royal commission, and seems so relatively banal.
(ACTU explains the ROC
At issue is a $100,000 donation to a like-minded political activist group. When you consider that unions are political beasts that frequently donate to fellow travellers – not least political candidates – the donation seems utterly unremarkable. Sure, it would be illegitimate if not properly authorised by the union’s executive. And perhaps one day we’ll learn that it wasn’t.

But the problem for the government from the beginning is that it seems an entirely plausible thing for the executive to have decided, leaving it to fire up over missing paperwork and the like.

That’s not to say such decisions should be above the law. But it is to say that if there’s wrongdoing here, it doesn’t quite seem to match the muscular imagery of the raid – imagery at least one Liberal Party staffer was keen to ensure would be broadcast to the world. And imagery that allows Malcolm Turnbull to intone gravely: “Bill Shorten has questions to answer.”

Questions to answer. What a phrase that has turned out to be in Australian politics. You might remember the last time it was invoked: when Tony Abbott was hounding Julia Gillard over her dealings with the AWU back in the 1990s.and more…

It is one thing looking for political advantages where you can, seeking to frame your opponents in damaging ways and prosecuting a sustained line of attack. But it’s quite another to weaponise important institutions for the task.”
Read whole article here

From Doug Cameron, ALP Senator: “Turnbull and Cash must explain why 32 Federal Police raid the offices of the AWU over what – at best – could be a civil breach. Nigel Hadgkiss, former ABCC Commissioner is allowed to resign and receives two weeks pay when he egregiously breached the Act that he was supposed to uphold. Yet a possible administrative breach attracts 32 Federal Police and the media to the AWU offices. Working people in this country have internationally guaranteed rights to belong to free, independent unions. This right is being trashed by this desperate Turnbull government.” See Doug here

“Anthony Albanese had been out early yesterday saying “we know that Senator Cash’s office was ringing around media organisations yesterday afternoon, telling them that this was going to occur”. Who alerted the media to the raid was always going to be an issue of concern to Labor. The government even understood this — Cash met with Turnbull yesterday before Question Time to assure him she had not personally alerted the media (which no one had ever suggested, and which would be absurd — ministers have staff to do that sort of thing). Cash had also asked her office if anyone had told the media and, she says, been told they had not. The Cash staff member who did alert the media, David De Garis, was present at the meeting with the PM, but apparently said nothing to his minister or the Prime Minister to alert them to his actions or the fact that he had misled his minister.”

Update: October 30 –Unions demand answers over new twist in Michaelia Cash police raids scandal by Adam Gartrell

Don Sutherland on radio

Update November:
The AWU raids reveal the strange nexus between the Turnbull government, the federal police, The Australian newspaper and the new unions commission.
By Mike Seccombe.
AWU raid something is deeply wrong with how unions are treated in australia

Coalition’s night terrors play out in public as kill Bill missive backfires
Katharine Murphy
anti-union laws

Cold, Hard (Michaelia) Cash Lies To Parliament And The People
By Ben Eltham on November 2, 2017
Alex White Secretary Unions ACT: “The Liberal party hates everything unions stand for. They hate the very concept of working people joining together to improve work and society for everyone. That’s why they are attacking us so fiercely, that’s why they are abusing the power of the State and directing the AFP to raid union offices.

But no matter what, we’ll always be here. No matter how many cops they send, we will never back down.

The scale of attack against workers’ unions by this government is unprecedented in Australian history, while the Federal Liberal are colluding with big banks and multinational corporations to enable company tax avoidance and wage-theft.”

Sally McManus ACTU writes “What the AWU raids tell us about the Turnbull government”

The politically motivated raids of a workers’ union this week, put on for camera crews tipped off in time to catch the farce, are symptomatic of a bigger problem facing working people in Australia today. The Turnbull government has one set of harsh rules for working people and their unions and another, far more flexible set, for the big end of town.

Unions are now the most highly regulated organisations in the country. And we are regulated by a politicised organisation, working closely with a union-hating government that constantly leaks to the media.

Imagine if such a body existed for the banks, for big business or for political parties. It’s unthinkable under this government, which is shamefully shielding the banks from a royal commission and handing out tax cuts to big businesses that already find creative ways to pay hardly any tax.

On the other hand, the government has passed laws that make basic union activities to help working people illegal. The Registered Organisations Commission and the ABCC have been given extraordinary and undemocratic powers to attack working people and their unions, which we’ve seen on display this week.”

“The government has more anti-worker laws before the Parliament, which will give the Registered Organisations Commission more power. One will make it illegal for unions to manage insurance funds for redundant workers. The other will give big business or the minister the power to deregister unions and block union mergers.

These bills are anti-democratic and designed to drive down wages and put more workers in casual work. They will make the work of unions harder.”
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Sally McManus FB on TV the 7.30 report
For background on the TURC Dyson Heydon attack on unions see

Minister Cash is introducing extreme provisions against unions that have to be defeated. These are a number of Bills into the Senate during the week commencing Monday 13 November 2017 which aim to weaken trade unions and undermine industry superannuation funds. It is important that the Senate reject these Bills which in attempting to weaken the political power of government’s opponents will actually harm working men and women.

The Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill 2017 and the Fair Work Laws Amendment (Proper Use of Worker Benefits) Bill 2017 will give Minister Cash and the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) greater power to harass unions and undermine workers’ rights and protections.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Improving Accountability and Member Outcomes in Superannuation Measures No. 1) Bill 2017, Superannuation Laws Amendment (Strengthening Trustee Arrangement) Bill 2017, and Treasury Laws Amendment (Improving Accountability and Member Outcomes in Superannuation seek to give banks greater access to workers superannuation and in doing so would threaten the benefits that worker derive from investing their retirement saving into low cost high performing industry superannuation funds. These Bills should be rejected on their merits regardless of the circumstances. It is also doubly important for the Senate to send a strong signal to the government that it is not prepared to deal with highly controversial and contestable legislation without knowing whether all members of Parliament have been legitimately elected! from NTEU

Michaelia Cash and the rogue staffer: when political theatre goes off-script
Katharine Murphy

Stop the union witch hunts
That the Coalition is trying to clamp down on the unions, and campaigning organisations such as GetUp!, by pushing tighter restrictions on their ability to campaign goes to the heart of the battle over freedom of political expression.

Between a ROC and a desperate government
06 NOVEMBER 2017
Malcolm Farr “PM Turnbull can’t completely distance himself from the swoop on AWU offices.
AFP acted independently but the government has left fingerprints in the sudden revival of interest in the GetUp donation.

Malcolm Turnbull’s overreach in raids on Bill Shorten’s former union
by Royce Millar and Ben Schneiders

Secretary AWU Walton responds

Pressure on Cash to resign
Talking Point: Another attack on champions of the battlers
October 18, 2017
“IT seems that whenever the Federal Government is in political trouble it reverts to attacking and demonising unions. Its latest attempt to make life difficult for unions comes in the form of the disingenuously titled legislation, the Registered Organisations (Ensuring Integrity) Bill 2017.

This Bill is about anything but integrity. It’s a politically motivated attack on unions which will ultimately hurt all workers if it passes the Parliament.

This legislation will mean members are less likely to volunteer with their unions, allows employers and even ministers to interfere with the running of unions and would impose higher standards and tougher penalties on unions and their officials than the Corporations Act does to big business. This is what we now expect from the Turnbull Government. It’s one rule for the big end of town and another for working people.

Unions are not-for-profit organisations. The average union has 18,000 members and $5.75 million in income. They are run by a mostly unpaid and volunteer committee or board. Comparatively, the executives of the Commonwealth Bank are safe_image.phppaid collectively $50 million in a year, they have over 16 million customers and a total income of over $23 billion.

How is it that the laws are harsher for unions than for one of the Big Four banks? Why should it be easier to sack a union leader than a CEO?

The Turnbull Government would never propose these laws for big business.” read more

Heldon dumps on workers

Heldon dumps on workers

Similarly, the ABCC attack on building unions
ABCC legal counsel Anthony Southall quits as Hadgkiss’ actions make role ‘untenable’

Read more:
And corporations use police to smash unions read here of one Australian example
Glencore ordered to stop ‘quasi-militaristic’ surveillance of CFMEU members

The use of private police forces to squash workers combination and union activity is not new. It started with the creation of unionism back in the late 18th century. On this occasion, it’s gone too far even under our broken Fair Work Act.

Australian citizens alarmed,10862#.WfF2_tQ9rYY.facebook

As well, ASIO is a threat to democracy

At the same time…
Pay rises in enterprise agreements slump to ‘worst ever’ recorded

Read more:
Touch One Touch All

And LNP cuts to penalty rates creates new poor

And privatisation fails

Chris White Reminiscences Sat, 21 Oct 2017 03:35:13 +0000 ChrisKathryn2017
Chris White Reminiscences
Many photos of a memorable event by Ridley and Ric. Thank you to all the speakers, MC Michael White and Director Kathryn Moyle and organisers. Great to see the hundreds of comrades.
Thank you to Star Theatre, Adelaide.The recording of these celebrations are at the SA Library, please contact Labour Historian Alison Murchie. On this library file is as well an audio recoding done at Radio 3CR with Chris and Mike on Chris’s early years at the AWU and Missos and a number of strikes.

Turnbull fails to fund dementia
Chris White blog on the Right to Strike
Please support ICAN
Timor Sea Justice campaign
JanMay dayRichard
Please support IPAN
DSC01175 (1)
Peace movement building by Chris White

Oppose nuclear war with North Korea


Marx’s Capital
IMG_3054 (1)
Liebowitz on Marx
CWInvitation Chris White Mindfields

Save the Great Barrier Reef
CWInvitation Chris White Mindfields
CWInvitation Chris White Mindfields
The right to strike by Chris White
The right to strike may2016 2
Stop the War on Workers

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Tue, 10 Oct 2017 21:29:06 +0000 1507366802109I am a supporter of ICAN and ask for mobilisation to pressure Turnbull to sign the Nuclear Disarmament Treaty. here are posts celebrating International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons”.

The prize comes after ICAN played a pivotal role in an historic UN treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. The treaty was adopted in July by an overwhelming vote of 122 to one. ICAN was the driving force behind it, working closely with governments to get it over the line.

Nobel peace prize awarded to Melbourne-born International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
ICAN urges Australia to sign banning nuclear weapons

Group’s Nobel Peace Prize win spotlights need to end ‘nuclear nightmare’ says UN chief

A Nobel Peace Prize born in Australia
Margaret Beavis

Australians can be very proud. The winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), started in Melbourne. It began when the Medical Association for the Prevention of War (MAPW) recognised that nuclear weapons, the very worst of the weapons of mass destruction, were still “legitimate”. This contrasted with chemical weapons, biological weapons, cluster munitions, land mines – even dumdum bullets, which all have been made illegal by UN treaty, with impressive results.
The late Dr Bill Williams, a key member of the founding group, wrote: “After the energetically anti-nuke eighties and the end of the Cold War, nuclear holocaust – always unthinkable – became almost unmentionable. A mass self-censorship, a mental no-fly zone, a cone of silence descended. Little wonder: no sane person wants to contaminate their dreams with this ultimate horror. But to finish this journey of survival – to abolition – we need to penetrate the fog of fear and denial, informing ourselves and our neighbours without inducing psychological paralysis.” read more

Open letter: Parliament, not ministers, must decide Australia’s response to a Korean war

The possibility of war between the United States and North Korea – particularly a war triggered by one too many provocative moves by an unpredictable leader, leading to miscalculation or misinterpretation – continues to threaten millions of people. The consequences of any such war, even a “conventional” one, would be dire.

About 76 million Koreans (51 million in the South, 25 million in the North) would be directly affected, with populations far beyond also likely to be targeted. A nuclear war would have consequences of global proportions, possibly terminal for the world as we know it, with environmental impacts adding to an unprecedented human catastrophe. …

Australia, instead of declaring a “joined at the hip” policy towards the US – a policy that takes on new and alarming meaning in the age of Donald Trump – must uphold the United Nations charter, which outlaws wars of aggression. Ministers who repeatedly refer to Australia’s regard for the rule of law must ensure that, unlike our approach to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, we apply it rigorously.

Simply expressing support for strict economic sanctions – which, unlike sanctions targeted at leaders, will primarily punish civilians, as they did in Iraq – will not hasten a resolution to this crisis.

Australia should make clear that we will take no part in US military moves that could be interpreted as aggressive, provocative or that violate the UN charter. The recent US decision to increase its strategic forces in the vicinity and fly B-1B bombers close to North Korea’s border, while rationalised in terms of “deterrence”, may well increase the possibility of war by accident or miscalculation, especially if North Korea believes a pre-emptive attack is imminent and seeks to strike first.

Regrettably, Australia’s overall approach to the problem of nuclear weapons appears selective. The Australian government steadfastly refuses to join most nations by supporting the newly adopted UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The treaty applies the same standards to all nations, including our allies, and is the most promising nuclear-disarmament initiative in decades.
read here

Will our Nobel peace prize convince Australia to give up nuclear weapons?
Tim Wright

peace trust