Striking Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) members have over the last couple of weeks staged protest demonstrations against Bob Hawke, the Labor government and the airline in various locations.
As is well known, the Hawke government brought in the RAAF, paid compensation to the airlines and allowed scab pilots to be hired and the ACTU did nothing to stop them.
The unions leadership made no protests until the airlines lodged a damages claim against the AFAP for $9.2 million, virtually making strike action illegal in Australia if it succeeds.
In the meantime, the airlines have been granted air fare increases of 5% from 24/1/90, they had asked for 7.5%, and had a rise of 7.5% in July.
The protest actions of the pilots while raising media interest, are not enough. They need action designed to get other unions to support them, if not at the official level, then at the rank and file level.
Actions such as campaigning in marginal seats will not benefit the pilots, favourable talk from the Democratic or Liberal Party was just that, talk, in government they would have acted more swiftly and viciously than Hawke.
The pilots, unpalatable as it may seem to them, need firstly to join the ACTU and secondly affiliate to the ALP and become actively involved in these organisations so that they once again represent and fight for workers rights and conditions. The present conditions of the ALP and ACTU is a direct result of the current leadership and their unwillingness to implement socialist policies.
By Militant reporters
Originally published in the February 1990 edition of Militant, predecessor of The Socialist