Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

High Court decision a sign of new era

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Last week the High Court of Australia voted 6-1 to ban trade unions from any industrial action on issues outside immediate wages and conditions when negotiating an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement. This anti-democratic decision is an attempt to shakle the organised working class from any input on the political arena.
With the ALP now a bosses’ party, workers only have their unions to represent them – at least until a new mass workers’ party is formed as SP is calling for.
This decision would ban actions such as the strikes and rallies around East Timor in 1999, South Africa in the 1980s, workers’ compensation, support for the MUA and so on.
The response of the ACTU leaders – under strict orders from Latham to keep their mouth shut – has been pathetic. They have mildly criticised the decision but proposed no defying of the law or protest action.
One again the militant unions and rank and file will be forced to take up the battle. No piece of paper, even from the highest court in the land, will stop the democratic political expression of workers.
The decision represents an increasing trend in all capitalist countries away from the limited democratic rights workers won in the past. Neo-liberalism cannot afford decent wages, conditions and social services – and wants to try to repress any opposition to its programme.

In Australia, this is shown best by the ASIO bill (see elsewhere on this web site for details) and this High Court decision.

The struggle for democratic rights, and the struggle for a future for workers, is more than ever tied up with the struggle to end this capitalist system and build socialism here and internationally.


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