Little Joy for Workers
“In democracies, sometimes the rulers have to change in order to ensure that things remain the same”
— adapted from The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa
Unions were told by the Labor Party that they had to work on a marginal seats campaign to get the ALP in government and thereby change the workplace laws. Unions generally accepted this view.
In the book After the Waterfront – the workers are quiet the leftpress collective argues that
this strategy (the electoral solution) demands that the ALP achieves the highly unlikely scenario of winning a majority in both houses, or, more likely, of winning a majority in the House of Representatives and getting compliance from smaller parties in the Senate. However, getting candidates elected is not guaranteed and even if a candidate gets into parliament there are many other issues in the parliamentary system competing for the attention of parliamentarians.
The provisional result in the senate is:
Family First 1
Nick Xenophon 1
As predicted in After the Waterfront – the workers are quiet the ALP will not control the senate and on many anti-worker, anti-union issues like WorkChoices.
The senate will remain hostile to any legislative changes favourable to workers and their unions. [See Liberal senators in bid to block repeal of IR law]
Some workers looked to the Greens as a possible means of easing the workplace laws because the Greens had better Industrial Relations policy than Labor.
However the Greens will not have the balance of power in the Senate. One scenario is that a vote to replace WorkChoices would leave Labor and Greens deadlocked with the coalition 37 votes to 36 votes with Family First and Nick Xenophon (no-poker machine lobby) with the casting votes.
The big gain for the Greens was in Tasmania (two seats in the senate) and South Australia (one senate seat) with some gains in Victoria (falling short winning a senate seat). See http://www.abc.net.au/elections/federal/2007/results/senate/vic.htm for the final tally after preferences.
In Queensland, the Greens, once again, did not do well in the Senate getting only half a quota (7%) before preferences.
However, in the house of Reps, the Greens did well in inner city Brisbane seats where there are now a lot of public servants and other white collar workers who vote Green.
The Greens seem unable to capture the blue collar working class vote, which in this election just went back to Labor.
The Socialist Alliance and the Socialist Equality Party did poorly again polling less than 2% of the vote in seats contested. Of the socialists contesting the senate, Sam Watson in Queensland got the best result for the Socialist Alliance in the senate (he got a meager 1,584 votes or 0.08% of the vote).
At the national level, this means the ALP will face a hostile senate when it tries to get its minor reforms to WorkChoices through the parliament.
Yet people worldwide are starting to turn away from privatisation by governments. They wish to return services like health, education, transport and telecommunications to public ownership.
That is, people are moving away from the neo-conservative experiment of the past 20 years. This seems lost on ALP governments throughout Australia, governments that are privatising public resources like electricity industry in NSW. [See Electricity sell-off a surge to the bottom line]
The last major privatisation in Australia was the sale of Telstra, yet what did people get from the sale of Telstra?
A failed company with a hopeless mob running it and taking away $20 million each per annum in salaries.
At the same time, call centre workers at Telstra have been committing suicide because of the bad conditions. See the article in BushTelegraph: No Action on Worker Suicides at Telstra
Meanwhile rising Labor star, Kevin Rudd (PPP*) once said:
“We (the Labor Party) are the genuine inheritors of the [Adam] Smithian tradition [of modern-day capitalism].
We accept price. We accept markets. We accept the legitimate pursuit of self-interest.”
From After the Waterfront – the workers are quiet. @ http://wpos.wordpress.com/
* Coined termed by veteran SMH journo Alan Ramsey. PPP = ‘prissy, precious, prick’