2 thoughts on “WorkChoices Rally

  1. Ross,

    All your comments are true

    However it is never clear cut and the intensity of a particular struggle is difficult to predict or identify even at the time of the conflict.

    My experience is that you can underestimate the height of workers concern and lag behind them just as easily as you can place yourself way out in front.

    Also by the same token you cannot be that detached, by concern for correct idea or line, so as to separate yourself from your own circumstances and from the workers beside you.

    We are just workers like those around us, human, and as such should not always suppress our own feelings to extent that we let officials get away with bad behaviour.

    I agree distance does place particular problems in understanding.

    As an example I try to keep informed on the events in Lebanon, influenced by family links, but I would not have predicted that so quickly Israel would once again resume its aggression, collective punishment and seek to destroy the lives of Lebanese citizens

    Should the Arab countries’ leaders, like our union officials, have been subjected to a more strident criticism for the lack of preparation or the complicity in this sad turn of history.

    People can pay a price for quiet as well as strident criticism.

    How strident should we be in our current industrial relations circumstance, when many workers including some of us are going to pay a severe price, is a difficult judgment.

    In solidarity,
    Joseph

  2. Ian,

    I have a couple of comments on your “IF YOU DON’T FIGHT YOU LOSE” reply..

    I agree with your analysis of the legalities of striking versus work-to-rule – my understanding from the industrial staff in our union is that there is no “legal” difference nowdays. However I suggest the tactics chosen in any particular struggle will take account of at least three factors – the balance of the class forces generally, the particular contradictions in a specific struggle, and the strategic importance that the ruling class places on the particular struggle.

    That said, the decision of what tactics to use in a struggle have to come out of the experience of the workers involved. Many trade union leaders are bureaucratic, or are captive to ALP politics. Indeed a Marxist perspective points to the two contradictory aspects of trade unions – on the one hand as organisations aiming only towards economist concerns of wages and conditions (and thus towards social democracy) , and on the other hand as schools for revolutionary change (Lenin)
    I don’t see the point of trying to second guess what the union leadership have done or not done in the WA Mandurah struggle. For example it is quite possible that the leadership made a public statement directing the workers back to work (as a strategic move to safeguard union ie workers – assets ) whilst having an understanding with the workers that this directive will not be enforced by the union. I have certainly firsthand seen that sort of tactic used.

    Of course I may be quite wrong. It is – as you point out – useless to try and speculate what has actually happened.

    As to the cat and mouse game played by the union leadership with the ALP – we know that will happen. We expect it to happen. The surprise would be if it did not happen.

    Rather than berating them for it – our approach as socialists ought to be to provide collective support for the workers in that struggle, both directly to them, and also in any forums we are involved in ourselves – ie in our own unions, or community organisations. The struggle of those will expose the negative aspects

    Ross Gwyther.

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