Magazine of the Socialist Party, Australian section of the CWI

WA: Strikers threatened with asset seizure

Back in October 2008, 117 construction workers at Woodside Petroleum’s LNG expansion project in the Pilbara took strike action. In September 2013 the Federal Court deemed the strike ‘illegal’ and fined the workers over $1,000,000. The court claimed the strike caused significant project delays and costs.

By Matt Myers, Socialist Party Perth

The legal basis of this case was predicated on the strikers defying a return-to-work order. The Abbott government has stepped up efforts to punish the workers for their actions with the so called ‘Fair Work Building Construction’ (FWBC) department (previously ABCC) now attempting to seize assets of workers who have refused to pay the fines.

Strikes are typically only effective when they have a significant impact on the employer’s profits. The workers were forced to engage in this action because redundancy payment clauses in their enterprise bargaining agreement were not being honoured by the employer.

The fines and seizure of assets are a direct attack on the right to strike. The Socialist Party demands that the fines be withdrawn and anti union bodies like the FWBC department be abolished. Action to resist the seizure of assets coupled with the mass defiance of the anti union laws is the best way to defend the right to strike.