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

4 thoughts on “May Forum: Collective Resistance, what will it mean?

  1. Viola Wilkins says:

    May Day in Fremantle, at the Esplande on Sunday, May 3rd at noon! There were Wobblies there carrying red and black flags; & a delegate there so wage slaves could line up with the IWW.

    “A shorter workday for all employed workers would put thousands of unemployed to work. If everybody worked, there would be no poverty.”
    from the “Little Red Songbook” of 1923.

    It’s remember why we celebrate this day.

    May Day marks the beginning of the class struggle of wage workers to limit their working day to 8 hours. It’s been over 100 years since workers began this important fight, yet today we work more than ever. As we all know, 10 and 12 hour shifts are commonplace today and unpaid overtime has become a fact of life.* At the same time, massive layoffs are occurring and the threat of increasing levels of unemployment is creating great anxiety amongst family members.

    Employers make massive profits by overworking one section of the working class, while using the unemployed section of the workers to force down wages and threaten effective collective bargaining by your unions. Did you know that you pay for your daily wage within the first 2 hours of work? That’s how productive you and your mates are as a class. The other 6 to 10 hours of your day’s productivity goes towards costs and profits for the employing classes.**

    So what can we do?

    Well, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in Australia are agitating for a shorter work day, just like workers did before the original May Day. This is not only better for workers lives, but it could create full employment overnight, which would kill the effects of the current financial crisis on workers.

    If all workers worked 4 hours per day they could still claim the same wage as they do now, because that money is made in producing goods and services which are worth that much on the market in the first 2 hours of their labour. The other two or more hours of wealth could go to their employers. The benefit of shorter working hours is that it would oblige employers to hire more of the unemployed and it would enhance the quality of life for working people in that they’d be able to spend more quality time with family, and/or in recreation and relaxation, while still enjoying a decent living wage. Our productivity has increased by leaps and bounds since the first May Day in 1886.

    After more than 120 years, we should take our cue from those workers who came before us and who demanded the eight hour day. On this May Day, we should begin to fight for the four hour day with no cut in pay.


    A survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that almost three million of the country’s eight million employees regularly work extra hours and
    most do not get paid for it.”

    **the productivity of the Australian working class increases on an average of 2.9%-3.2% per year.

    Check us out…Get wise. Organise!

  2. Proposed program says:

    Proposed program for Forum: Collective Resistance, what will it mean? Union & Community Renewal is as follows:

    6pm for a 6:30pm start.

    A short introduction of the forum & of Humphrey McQueen.

    Introduction to Humphrey McQueen.

    Humphrey to speak for about 30 minutes.

    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.

    Emma Tovell is the chairperson and will lead the forum discussion, Collective Resistance, what will it mean? Union & Community Renewal

    Songs by Jumping Fences followed by refreshments.

    All out by 9pm, with people asked by the chairperson to help clean up & stack the chairs.

  3. May Forum Stalls says:

    I am planning on setting up a May Forum stalls at the following locations this week from Monday 18th May to Friday 22nd May if anyone is interested in participating or helping out.

    Stall places and Times
    Monday:The Lizard in West End from 12noon till 2pm. The lizard is on the corner of Boundary & Russell Sts West End.

    Tuesday: At the Qld Teachers Union Strike @ Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Great Hall, Cnr Merivale & Glenelg Sts, South Brisbane from 9.30am till 10.30am.

    : Central railway station entrance, Corner of Edward & Adelaide Sts. 10am till 12 noon.

    Thursday: Brisbane Square in George St at the top end of the Mall 2 pm till 3:30pm.

    At the stall will be books including Humphrey McQueen’s Framework of Flesh, LeftPress’ After the Waterfront, Ernie Lane’s Dawn to Dusk, Ian Curr’s comic book “The Life & Times of a Middle Class Leftie” and others.

    If people wish to participate and have relevant materials on the stalls, come along or please let me know — Ian at 07 3398 5215 or

  4. Community Supports Sacked Shop Stewards says:

    From: Western Suburbs Community and Unions Coalition
    Date: Thu, 21 May 2009 08:31

    Dear friends,

    Please support these workers and their union

    Community rally in support of 2 sacked Shop Stewards

    Tomorrow Friday 22nd May, 3.45pm onwards

    Sutton Tools, 378 Settlement Road, Thomastown

    The company is trying to de-unionise the workplace.

    Defend workers’ and union rights.

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