A brilliant show of unity on rallies in July against Howard?s Industrial Relations changes temporarily forced the Liberals onto the defensive.
The Liberals replied by spending thousands of our dollars on newspaper adverts that tried to tell us what a good thing their IR changes would be! Even Labor was forced to oppose the Liberal’s attacks.
The huge turnout at meetings, rallies and demonstrations across Australia showed the massive anger that workers feel about these attacks on their wages and conditions. Yet the fighting mood of the workers to defend their rights and conditions was sadly missing in the trade union leadership.
Faced with legislation that will give bosses the right to attack workers rights at will the ACTU leadership is hoping to appeal to the better nature of Liberal MPs (as if they have one). Failing this the ACTU is waiting for the next general election. This is despite the fact that Labour has not even committed itself to repealing the legislation!
Workers cannot afford for this IR legislation to be implemented. A determined and serious campaign to break this legislation is what is needed. The ACTU and the state trade union leaderships still have massive authority in the eyes of most workers.
The Socialist Party calls on the trade union leadership to name the day for a 24-hour general strike, and then organise in every workplace to ensure that it is a resounding success. Such a day would be a massive blow to the bosses’ attempts to intimidate the union movement. It would also be an inspiring show of strength to give workers across Australia the confidence to take on the government and their big business supporters who are trying to introduce this new legislation to attack wages and conditions.
This however would merely be the first step in what needs to be a well planned and co-ordinated campaign of ongoing national industrial action. A week of trade union rallies has been enough to put the Liberals on the back foot. A serious campaign based on mobilising the industrial strength of the trade union movement would have Howard and the Liberals running for cover.
By Samanatha Ashby