May Forum: Collective Resistance, what will it mean?

All those interested in Union & Community Renewal are invited to participate in the …


May Forum:

Collective Resistance, what will it mean?


at 26 Horan Street, West End

6pm for 6:30pm start

Friday, 22 May 2009

Keynote Speaker: Humphrey McQueen (historian).

Entry by Gold Coin donation.

The Program for the night

  1. A short introduction of the forum & of Humphrey McQueen.
  2. Introduction to Humphrey McQueen.
  3. Humphrey to speak for about 30 minutes, he will make a tribute to Working Class poet, Jim Sharp.
  4. 7pm – A brief break, an advertisement for Humphrey’s book “Framework of Flesh – Builders Labourers’ Battle for Health & Safety” and any other books & CDs on display, then the forum discussion for an hour.
  5. Emma Tovell is the chairperson and will lead the forum discussion, Collective Resistance, what will it mean? Union & Community Renewal
  6. Two songs by Jumping Fences with Leanor Orellana followed by refreshments.


At a meeting of activists  there was discussion of the need for a collective response to the economic crisis.

Labor in power had two approaches on the economic front –
a) to allow wages to be driven down – the public service is seen as one target. This is an attempt to maintain profits & surplus while reducing the rise in unemployment during the crisis.

b) The other was to allow unemployment to increase in order to protect profit and surplus.Yet the G20 summit in London demonstrated that the crisis was in capitalism itself, but how to convince workers of this?

Raised was the need to come up with our own idea of what society should be like, rather than just opposing existing capitalist society.

Existing activist groups had little energy, so why form a co-coordinating group that may drain them even further? A co-ordinating committee is useful if it helps unions and community groups function better. For example, dissemination of information could be done at the co-ordinating group stage,  we need to set up a model for others to see working.

May Day was discussed. Participation in the march needs to be less May Day May Day WorkersForumregimented Keeping the back end of the march (non-union or rainbow contingent) together and the setting up of stalls has been made difficult since May Day has returned to the Exhibition grounds. There is little space on May Day for workers political organisation. Politics has gone from many unions like the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union (CFMEU), Builders labourers’ Federation (BLF) and Transport Workers Union (TWU).  All have to fall in line behind the ALP. Why are unions like the Community & Public Sector Union (CPSU) have to be affiliated to the ALP?  We were informed that there are few if any union delegates meetings or inter-union meetings organised by the Qld Council of Unions except those held under the umbrella of the Labor Party. Why has the Queensland Public Sector Union & the Teachers Unions allowed contract work into their industries? Some teachers are still casual after 7 years in primary & secondary schools. In the tertiary sector no one gets a permanent job anymore. Why is this tolerated?

Rise & Fall of union membership in Australia 1911-2009

Lack of democracy in unions was discussed and the need for a proper delegate structure where the delegates decide what the union needs to do rather than the imposed delegate structure from above which is currently part of the ‘organising model’. With rising unemployment, a question was asked about the need for an unemployed workers union and what likelihood, if any, that it would obtain backing from the Queensland Council of Unions.

There was a report given about efforts to keep AHIMSA house going. There was some mention of the difficulties faced by other community organisations like Paddington Community Centre, St Mary’s & political groups.

At the meeting we decided to have a forum and to welcome all groups interested in union & community renewal.

Contact: Ian on 07 3398 5215 or

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