…from the quill of Antisthenes the Younger
Our fighters for workers rights are having their triennial talkfest at the Sydney Exhibition Centre. The Prime Minister addressing them said she was under no illusions about the massive task she faces to revive her government’s fortunes and urged Labor’s industrial wing not to allow the political pressure to lead to a “council of despair”. She has issued a call to arms to the union movement urging Labor supporters to “stiffen our spines” and prepare for a tough 500-days to the next federal election. Beside frightening us with further five hundred days of mismanagement, schoolmarmish exhort ions by a puppet for puppet-masters to behave are a cause for a smile.
Someone on the ACTU Congress website claims the congress is “the parliament of working people”. Considering the fact that less than twenty percent of Australian workers belong to an union, that most of those in the unions are public servants, not wealth creators; and that elite 4000 under paid (according to Paul Howes, Australian Workers Union apparatchik) apparatchiks represent them, the better description could be a “parliament of parasites”.
The Congress reluctantly had to deal with comrade Craig Thomson and his Health Services Union. It ought to be remembered that if not for the dispute over the spoils between those underpaid officials, neither HSU members nor the general public would be any wiser and the union movement could continue in its merry way.
PAUL HOWES: We have to be more diligent and more vigilant about ensuring that debacles like the HSU aren’t repeated again and we can only do that by holding ourselves to a higher level of accountability and a higher standard than people who do at the moment….All unions here at Congress are distressed and angry about what has occurred in the HSU. I’m livid about what has happened in that union and how a few people have brought into question the actions of you know- there is about 4,000 full-time union officials in this country who work hard for very little money on a daily basis representing working class people.And if it happens again, then yes, I think there is a real possibility that our entire existence could be brought in to question…
Pretending that HSU is an aberration is disingenuous. Precedents, financial and political, abound. Australian union movement has a long history acting against the interest of Australia and Australians:
“War or no war, unloading was slow and strikes not infrequent. The North Australia Workers Union, nearly moribund in the slack days of the mid-1930s, regained its power when military supplies began to pour into Darwin. Servicemen complained of ‘litiginous [sic] mongrel wharf labourers, who all earn from £20 to £30 weekly’ (a private soldier’s pay was £8 per month); unionists resented the occasional use of service labour to unload military supplies. In December 1941 E.J.Ward, the Minister for Labour and National Service in the Curtin Labor government, persuaded N.A.W.U. To allow more labour on the wharf. One hundred and sixty men were flown in from the south. The arrival did nothing toease the growing bitterness between unionists and servicemen. The former could see no reason why war should inhibit their campaign for better industrial conditions; the latter considered them little better than traitors. – – -
No amount of willing labour could have made the Darwin wharf efficient, and the nearness of the war, plus the long-standing radical reputation of Darwin unionists, tended to throw industrial relations there into a harsher light than they deserved, for strikes were no more frequent than in other parts of Australia. – – -
In November 1939 a local arbitrator broke a strong local convention by awarding a lesser wage increase to railwaymen than to other N.A.W.U. Workers. The Full Bench of the Arbitration Court confirmed the decision; the Railways Commissioner refused to make up the difference; and the railwaymen downed the tools for the first time in sixteen years. The army moved in to unload military stores; and the wharf labourers struck because non-union labour was used. The strike lasted a month.” / Alan Powell – Far Country, Charles Darwin University Press 2009/ (Until June 1941, when Hitler attacked Soviet Union, the communists and the unionists opposed the “imperialist” war)