I have included a video of the Brisbane rally in support of Ark Tribe with the article from Critical Times below as they offer commentary on the current predicament for building unions immediately prior to the 2010 federal election.
There were claims made at the Support Ark Tribe rally on 22 July 2010 by Shayne Neumann, the Federal Labor member for Blair, that the Labor Government tried to abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission [ABCC].
That is not the whole story.
The current Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a speech to the 2009 ACTU congress where she indicated that she would legislate the functions of the ABCC into an inspectorate in FairWork Australia.
You only have to read the legislation:
Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC)
An independent statutory body responsible for ensuring workplace relations laws are enforced in building and construction industry workplaces and to educate industry participants on their rights and obligations under relevant legislation. The ABCC will cease to exist on 1 February 2010; its functions will be amalgamated into a specialist division of the Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman. [see http://www.fwa.gov.au/index.cfm?pagename=assistglossary%5D
However this was not passed through the Senate so we still have the ABCC together with the coercive powers it has used against Ark Tribe and others in the building industry.
For example, Kane Pearson, an organiser with the BLF in Qld, who spoke at the Brisbane rally on 22 July 2010, faces similar charges to Ark Tribe under the same legislation.
The laws have not been changed under Labor, nor is it the policy of Labor to get rid of them, merely to incorporate them in the Fair Work Australia legislation.
The Prime Minister made that clear as long ago as 2009, to the assembled ACTU delegates in Brisbane Convention Centre.
Listen and watch to how Shayne Neumann, Federal ALP MP for Balir, tries to spin this in his speech to the rally shown in the video below.
I do not understand why the buidling unions let the ALP off the hook at this rally.
The most important power workers have is their combined strength in the union. Their strength is what they can do for themselves, it does not lie in going cap-in-hand to the parliament. That is a marginal aspect of the struggle.
At best, it is a high risk strategy that puts all into efforts to reform the laws through parliament.
The ALP delivered no change in its first term of government (2007-2010). The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is on record saying that even if she could, she would not abolish the functions of the ABCC, she would merely incorporate them into Fair Work Australia.
So I say these laws can be busted — not in the parliament — but in the workplace.
BLF – GILLARD’S STASI — Australia’s ‘Construction Stasi’ by — Humphrey McQueen
July 22nd, 2010 by mike
Adelaide construction worker Ark Tribe returned to the courts of the capitalist class on June 20.
He is being tried on charges that he refused to attend a compulsory and secret interrogation by the thugs of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, created to intimidate workers in the building industry.
In a tragic twist of fate Arks return to court came just three days after a fellow construction worker was killed at the Adelaide Desalination Plant site (below).
In South Australia, bosses who kill workers may be fined. Multinational giant BHP Billiton was recently fined $75,000 for causing the death of worker Scott Rigg. Its a paltry sum for a giant corporation.
There is no law on industrial manslaughter in SA.
Hence the international consortium building the bitterly opposed desalination plant wont see any of its executives sent to jail for the death at the plant.
But Ark, who refused to be interviewed by the scum of the earth after standing tall over a safety issue at his workplace, faces a mandatory 6 months jail!
To support Ark, rallies were held in major cities around Australia. Altogether tens of thousands of workers downed tools. For the sake of some minor disruption to the work at the Flinders University site where Ark was employed at the time he was charged, tens of thousands of work hours have been lost to some of the biggest construction comanies in Australia each time Ark has fronted the courts.
And if Ark is jailed, his union the CFMEU has pledged to stop work right around the country.
Photos of the rally follow:
(The oath of the 1854 Eureka rebels at the Ark Tribe Embassy opposite the courtroom).
(Ark Tribe, second right, listens to speeches of support).
(State President of the Australian Education Union Correna Haythorpe details how members proposing to place a moratorium on NAPLAN testing to oppose school league tables were threatened with individual $6000 fines under Gillards FairWork Act. Gillard, now Prime Minister, also threatened to send parents into schools as strikebreakers.)
(Jamie Newlyn, State Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia and President of SA Unions. His members stopped work for 24 hours nationally after a death of a member on the Melbourne wharves a week ago.)
(Ark Tribe here to stay!)
(CFMEU here to stay! with the support of comrades in the AEU, AMWU, ETU, CEPU, IEU, PSA, RBTU, MUA, LHMU present at the rally.)
(And as Ark went into court, we went off to confront the ABCC in its rats nest and vent our anger at its attacks on our class.)