To commemorate 100 years of International Women’s Day the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) organised a cocktail party at the Victorian Trades Hall. As a guest of honour they invited Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin.
Far from being a champion of equal pay or women’s rights, Macklin oversees the Northern Territory Intervention. One component of this Intervention is a scheme which pays Aboriginal people as little as $4 an hour. Another consequence of this policy has been the closing down of women’s centres and other social services in the NT.
Despite the fact that Macklin is responsible for overseeing these discriminatory laws the ACTU thought it was a good idea for her to speak. For the pro-ALP bureaucrats inside the union movement principles are not a high priority. The reality is that both Macklin and the organisers of the cocktail party are all politically aligned through the “Socialist Left” faction of the ALP. Despite the name this faction is neither left nor socialist.
Socialist Party members and other activists protested against Macklin on the night highlighting the hypocrisy of her speaking on International Women’s Day. Clearly Macklin’s supporters were not happy about being exposed and subsequently decided to respond with a campaign of slander and lies against the Socialist Party and its National Organiser Anthony Main.
False allegations were made claiming that Anthony used sexist and derogatory language at the protest. Anthony has categorically denied using any such language. Nevertheless Trades Hall set up an ‘investigation’ into the protest and Anthony’s conduct. The Socialist Party participated in the process in order to clear Anthony’s name and defend the right to oppose the NT Intervention within the union movement.
Unfortunately the ‘investigation’ was nothing more than a kangaroo court. The allegations against Anthony were never clearly outlined, none of Anthony’s witnesses were interviewed, he was not shown any of the ‘evidence’ and the findings of the ‘investigation’ were never revealed. This however did not stop Trades Hall from ruling to ban Anthony from the building indefinitely!
The Socialist Party has informed Trades Hall that we can not accept this decision. Anthony can not accept punishment for something he did not do. Also the Socialist Party office is located within Trades Hall and this is Anthony’s workplace. Anthony has continued to attend his workplace and has requested an appeal. Trades Hall has so far refused to respond to this request.
Trades Hall is obviously reluctant to grant an appeal as this would only expose the stories fabricated by Macklin’s supporters. It would also be a defacto admission that the original ‘investigation’ was a farce.
It is hypocritical to claim to stand against attacks on civil liberties and unfair court processes while acting in a way that is even less democratic than the capitalist courts. These undemocratic methods can only repel people from the union movement and set bad precedents that can be used against workers in the future.
If nothing else this dispute has shown just how unprincipled the pro-ALP bureaucrats in the union movement are. Making false allegations about sexist and derogatory language only undermines the issue and makes it harder for women who are genuinely affected to speak up. It is clear that the days of the ALP representing the interests of ordinary people are long gone.
Late news: As the Federal Budget was released today, the ALP’s ‘champion of women’ rights’, Jenny Macklin, confirmed that over the course of the next year 31,000 families would cease to be eligible for Family Tax Benefit A and a further 9000 would be pushed off Family Tax Benefit B. These new budget measures will also see 700 families miss out on the baby bonus and hit working women hard.
By Socialist Party reporters