Union Report from Fremantle

Joe’s back in the spotlight

Joe McDonald storming building siteMeeting in Fremantle of unionists went well. Ten people there. I’ll be able to tell you more when I get a chance to look at my notes.

Essentially, the focus should be on the ABCC and explaining why this is a civil rights issue to the wider community i.e. it’s rather secret police powers.

I don’t see how Labor is going to be axing the ABCC until 2010 and in fact, they’ve increased its budget…see the recent budget statement.

Julia Gillard is responsible for appointing the head of the ABCC; but appointments are for five years and the last appointment was in 2005.

So, you’ve got a Howard cronie in there, policing workers with an increased budget.

We need to put public pressure on MPs, asking them how they stand on the abuses of power exercised by the ABCC, then publicise their answers or non answers vis a vis support for the ABCC.

FW from the ETU spoke of how much more difficult it is now dealing with employers.

Seems that they’re playing by the rules more than before…kind of ‘work to rule’ in reverse, causing union delegates lots of lost time.

The employing class has also been coming up with some sneaky ways of reformulating ‘work choices’ by having workers sign something called, “green…blah, blah” agreements.

Once signed, this keeps union organizers legally out of the work place.

More later… http://www.myspace.com/ballardoso


Joe’s back in the spotlight
Article from: AAP Billy Rule
May 17, 2008 05:00pm

THIS is the footage Joe McDonald wants people to see as proof he is still at large.

And to match the pictures of him illegally storming a Perth building site, the renegade unionist also verbals the Labor Government, accusing Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard of selling out the unions to win power.

He then baits the Prime Minister by saying:

“I don’t even think about him, but he must go to bed thinking about me sometimes.”

The defiant footage of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union assistant secretary will be screened tonight on 60 Minutes in an interview with former The Sunday Times columnist Liam Bartlett .

But The Sunday Times can reveal that Mr McDonald may be in more trouble, because the builder he berates, Gerry Hanssen, has lodged a complaint of trespass against Mr McDonald and his union colleagues to the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

Mr McDonald lost his state and federal permits several years ago for inappropriate behaviour, which included bullying and aggression. His actions gained further notoriety last year after video footage surfaced of him calling a builder a “thieving, parasite dog”.

The ABCC wants him banned for a further three years and tonight’s images on Channel 9 are sure to draw more anger from the powerful industry watchdog.

When asked about his tactics of storming building sites, Mr McDonald said

“bad laws should be broken”. “I’m definitely not going to hang my head in shame and if the biggest crime I commit is to walk through the gates of a building site to better the lot of the people I represent I’m going to continue to do it,” he said. But some of his most vitriolic comments are aimed at the Federal Government and his expulsion from the Labor Party by Mr Rudd.

When asked if he thinks Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard have sold him out, he replies:

“Absolutely, absolutely. “They would have done anything to get where they are and … I mean the magnitude of the treachery still stuns me.”

60 Minutes executive producer Hamish Thompson believes viewers will be split when it comes to judging Mr McDonald’s motives.

“The opinions of people in here who have seen the screenings so far have been split 50-50,” he said. “Some have said `he may be a ratbag, but good on him … at least he’s standing up for workers’.”

5 thoughts on “Union Report from Fremantle

  1. Hello all,

    The story [Joe’s back in the spotlight], is about people from the outside (in this case, Joe McDonald) going into the workplace.

    Where are the stories about decisions being taken by workers in the workplace to combat these laws (workers control, sic)?

    There is a lot of intent being shown about moving away from bureaucratic unionism, a la Union Solidarity, which is good, but where are workers inside the workplaces organised and ready to take on ABCC or Rudd’s IR legislation? Union officials find it hard to break with the IR club.

    We already know WorkChoices, the Trade Practices Act’s ban on Secondary Boycotts etc is not the Howard Government’s anymore, Howard & his government are already a relic of the past; such anti-union legislation belongs to the Labor government (and this is not the first time).

    See the link After the Waterfront – the workers are quiet for LeftPress, Workers Printing & Publishing’s historical view of what is currently happening in the unions.

    in solidarity,
    Ian Curr

  2. Hey Ian quick response – well the taxi drivers uprising is one example perhaps !
    Followed up by the Pensioners strip stunt last friday.
    Both communities of these workers are not the usual “union struggle” terrain but relying on public mass direct action protest sit down etc.
    These passionate but sporadic acts have their limits – so far they do not get wider support except by Corporate media and Politicians agendas (eg Family First Steven Fielding with Pensioners) compared to say MUA ten years ago, Union Solidarity network in last three years locally.

    There is a lot of dialogue about all this – joint action committees between tax-drivers, pensioners & resisters to ABCC are needed speak at each others events mobilise to support each others when struggle is on. The ALP and ACTU and Trades Hall must be considering how to best channel and brake such a class wide development of extra-Parliamentary mobilisation…

    Equally miserable casualised workplaces and work forces like fruit pickers, call centres, service industry eg fast food retail wage-slaves are alas very quiet ! After Spain Oz wage slaves are the most casualised in the OECD “developed” enconomies.
    What will it take to see an uprising amongst the sweated here ?
    $3 a litre petrol, food prices go ballistic, evictions of failed mortgages, an environmental/economic disaster and lack of Government response ? Speculation is not what & how but when really ?

    The anti-migrant worker violence in South African eg murder of Zimbabweans and anti-migrant electoral victory of Belusconi/Bossi Northern League and neo-fascists in Rome are echoes of the old maxim by Capitalist Jay Gould
    “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half”
    Early days but a bit of a worry and I expect the Right thugs here are strategising for a recruiting drive amongst the gullible like the anti-Mosque populist rate payers revolt in Sydney earlier in the year or Cronulla beach bashings before that.

    So many proles are just that tired from working several jobs and commuting chasing bills getting stressed out so not much time for left and union meetings, political stuff alas
    so the most confident at speaking and organising – born to Manage middle class – have dominated the social justice movements be they Feminist, Indigenous, Multicultural, Ecological and now via Unis becoming trade Union officers too.

    Where are the proles in all this ?
    Lost in sport and escapism after a week of drudgery…
    BUT the religions offering the salve of you suffer the long term goals of mortgage, your family, Jesus….and join their “business community” for the aspirational eg drink Gloria jeans coffee and support Hillsong Church, listen to Lite FM (Hillsong Radio).
    Besides the notorious Exclusive Bretheren….

    Inside the unionised workplaces there’s localised battles but they are not heard of outside as part of the Enterprise bargaining culture except for ETU pattern bargaining ie coordinated EBAs across many workplaces negotiated at same time to get back to Award style basics for all….

    The basic strategy seems to be to get more $ so you can consume more or if the biz is restructured etc to get best redundancies.
    Social justice work stoppages to protest the war in Afghanistan or Iraq like US wharfies did for May Day seem distant chance of happening here presently.

    Hope I am wrong!


  3. Viola,

    The examples you provide focus on protest action.

    I am not talking about protest action which, as your examples show, are so diverse they lack the focus to bring about meaningful and systemic change.

    I am talking about worker control.

    ‘There is a lot of intent being shown about moving away from bureaucratic unionism, a la Union Solidarity, which is good …’ but, as you know, union officials find it hard to break with the IR club and the bureaucratic unionism that brought about current union decline shown at http://wpos.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/image2.png.

    Ian Curr

    PS Thanks for the related article http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23711640-5006789,00.html

  4. The allegations and so called opposition against Joe MacDonald & Kevin Reynolds are a beat up and the response of Kevin Rudd shows that he has said Me To when it comes to bashing workers and workers organisations such as the CFMEU who are still prepared to mobilise their members to fight. How disgusting is it that the Labour party has retained a star chamber such as the ABCC that has powers that allow it to strip construction workers of basic human rights.

    As far as the IR club goes this consists of the ACTU and sellout unions who do not want to fight for workers rights by breaking bad laws that deny basic human rights. One thing the Federal election shows is that workers and unions cannot protect their hard won democratic rights via the ballot box because both sides of politics are intent on destroying the rights of workers and unions. The your right to elect Kevin Rudd campaign of the ACTU was a flop because at the end of the day the anti worker and anti union laws are still there.They aren’t going to be abolished and Rudd and his hacks have started to use them.

    Union Solidarity are being pursued by one of Rudd’s Industrial goon squads otherwise known as the Workplace Ombudsman office. Dave Kerin the coordinator of Union Solidarity faces a possible 6 months jail for not cooperating with the Workplace Ombudsmans offices attacks on Union solidarity. It will be interesting to find out who is involved in this ie just an overzealous official or the Federal Government right up to the level of the IR minister julia Gillard and her lackeys.

    As far as the media goes it is interesting to see how on one hand they are giving Kevin Reynolds opponents a free ride whilst on the other hand lame hack shows like 37 and a half minutes are beating up videos showing someone swearing a bit and drawing the extremely long bow that somehow this means that Joe MacDonald and Kevin Reynolds should be hounded out of the CFMEU. What about the employers who cut corners on OHS which results in death and injury to workers. Why isn’t 37 and a half minutes hounding these employers out of the industry instead.It is easy to see what the agenda of the mass media is. – it is to destroy militant unionism.

    Working people should be defending militant officials such as Joe MacDonald and Kevin Reynolds because at the end of the day they
    do more to empower workers to take action to defend and extend their conditions than union officials from the sellout sector of the Trade union movement . This is what counts – not some beaten up video tape taken out of context by a pro business anti union mass media intent on destroying militant unionism.
    Just a footnote to the recent Melbourne Taxi Driver action. Taxi drivers are not employees they are sub contractors which meant that the anti worker Workchoices and now Workchoices lite legislation of the Rudd government could not be used against them.
    The reason Taxi drivers are subcontractors is so the real employer of drivers ie the Taxi depots and owners of the taxis can avoid paying drivers entitlements such as sick pay, super, holiday pay etc that must be paid to employees. There was a court case about this that went all the way to the High Court which ruled that Taxi Drivers were subcontractors which is bollocks given that most drivers work for an owner however being a subcontractor at least has one unforseen advantage in the current brave new world of Rudd’s Workchoices Lite IR law.

    Subcontractors can choose when to withdraw their labour without breaking the law as they are self employed whilst employees under the legislation can’t. This demonstrates that the law as its stands is biased against the working class.(although taxi drivers are clearly workers). It is bad law and it needs to be broken – just as people like Ghandi and Nelson Mandela broke bad laws in order to win basic freedoms. People who nowadays advocate what mandela and Ghandi advocated would now be labelled as Terrorists.

  5. Alas people like K Reynolds are at least as much part of the problem as the solution in my opinion. (Can’t forget that he went into business with Capitalists and swims in the Brian Burke swamp)

    All depends who union officials are being attacked by really of course.
    And it is sad that they still set the pace for union militancy in the “golden west” but such is the case like it or not.

    If only he was being chalnged from the Left, the rank & file but this attack is by the Employers via Corporate media.

    Nor am I sure that long term encumbrance as union official is a very desirable thing.

    As for Joe McD as far as I can see he just gets attacked for doing his job properly and his politics are irrelevant.

    Here’s some news from France:
    Hi comrades,

    Those last days CNT members suffered two attacks :

    – In Lille (North of France) the CNT block, last thursday 15th, during the demonstration of the strike of the public sector, was attacked by fascist (Identitaries Youth, a nazi group more radical than the National Front). Later in the same demonstration activist of CNT were attacked by the Police because they protected Paperless/visa workers in danger of arrest.

    – In Paris, the Palestine Group of CNT organised, the same day thursday 15th of May, particpated in a public meeting of solidarity with the palestinians refugees. At 11.30 PM, at the end of the meeting, 5 members of CNT in the street, close to the place of the meeting, were attacked by 25 activivist of the LDJ (League of the jews defense, a radical sionist group)with arms, casquers, truncheon). One comrade of CNT was seriously injured and stay the night in a hospital (nose and rib broken).

    The struggle continue !!!
    In solidarity

    If organised workers like those in France (CNT) get out here and support the asylum seekers & Palestinians ? During the taxi-drivers (Indian and African international students) uprising the Transport Workers Union (Right wing ALP) and breakaway Taxi Drivers Association were the only “organised labour” force and very marginal to those gathered. There is another meeting today by taxidrivers to discuss what has happened since their direct action protest on April 30th. Have not heard any follow up by Pensioners so far.

    As for rank and file workers control – what about the SPARKS project by transport workers (dormant here in Victoria) but active in Sydney see rebel worker url for update.

    The SPARKS project makes connections between taxi-drivers, ferry workers, bus and train crews ie INDUSTRIAL union perpsective.

    The last time a wider class push was discussed was during 1960s/early 1970s by air, sea and land transport workers.
    The TWU/ATMOEA-ARU/WWF etc were divided and ruled by ALP, CPA & CPAm-l factions each against all competing for members and controlling members actions from above.

    The 1969 resistance to the Penal Powers when Clarrie O’Shea was jailed and 1 million went on strike came about after years of education and organisation initiated by the rank and file with a “class wide” vision that goes beyond craft/trade unionism. Nowadays this push is renamed “solidarity unionism”
    Whatever its termed its about time for the unorganised & disorganised to coordinate with other workers who are organised.
    This “unison” means you can get together what you cannot get on your own & is the basis of social struggle and progress which seesm to have been “forgotten” in the history wars of late.

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