The following comments were taken from a news item from Workplace Express, daily news updates for the Union/HR/IR mob.
Union protests not a secondary boycott, says ACCC
Protests by the MUA and Geelong Trades Hall outside Max Brenner chocolate shops as part of a campaign to boycott businesses with links to Israel were not secondary boycotts, according to the ACCC.
The Victorian Government referred the protests, carried out as part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, to the competition watchdog, asking that they be investigated under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, which prohibits secondary boycotts at s45D (see Related Article).
Protests took place in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and allegedly prevented potential customers from entering the chocolate outlets.
The ACCC said in a statement issued on Friday that it had given the application “careful assessment”, but had not found that the protests contravened section 45D, as they did not “have the effect or likely effect of causing substantial loss or damage to the Max Brenner shops in question”.
The ACCC said factors relevant to its decision included the “infrequent nature of the protests, their limited duration, and the difficulty in apportioning any revenue impact to this activity versus other factors”.
The ACCC said that existing police powers were in place to deal with breaches of relevant laws and that charges had been laid by the Victoria Police over trespass, besetting a premises and riotous behaviour after one of the Melbourne protests.
Despite its finding, the ACCC said it would monitor future protests to ensure they don’t breach the Act.
BDS campaigners should note that the comments from the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) about the Melbourne BDS protests outside Max Brenner imply that their actions were not secondary boycotts only because they did not stop Max Brenner from trading.
That is to say not sufficiently effective to have the substantial impact required for the legislation to be invoked.
In other words, if the boycotts were successful in causing a substantial impact on Max Brenner, then it may be construed as a secondary boycott and BDS campaigners could become liable to punitive damages in the same way unions have been in the past.
Nevertheless a more likely scenario is that the referral to the ACCC by the Victorian government under the pretext that there was a violation of prohibition on secondary boycotts was a merely a ruse by ‘Max Brenner & Co’ to frighten off the BDS campaigners from alerting people to the shady complicity of their dealings with Israel. The crucial difference for the ACCC is that symbolic protest groups are nothing like unions. They lack organised structure, finance and most significantly lack the organisational ability to bring a business to a halt. So ACCC lawyers faced with these facts had to tell the Victorian Minister he is barking up the wrong tree. The conservatives in Melbourne have more than enough capacity with the police to stop any effective boycott. However that does not prevent the BDS campaign from highlighting the social historic injustice of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land even with pickets that are largely symbolic.
The former treasurer, Peter Costello, was very keen to introduce laws that outlawed community pickets but left the parliament before get new legislation introduced.
Challenge facing BDS campaigners
The question is how will the BDS organisers response to the co-ordinated use of Max Brenner a a front to support Israel. A BDS demonstration is planned in Melbourne this week (9 Sept 2011) outside Max Brenner. Will people stay away because politicians like Wayne Swan and Kevin Rudd have chosen to endorse Max Brenner on the basis of the right of small business to trade freely (in line with the ACCC decision) — despite Max Brenner’s parent (the Israeli-owned Strauss Group) being so close to the zionist regime in Tel Aviv by endorsing the Israeli Defence Force.
In the face of criminal charges, threats by politicians and right wing groups, will the BDS pull back and chose a different target to Max Brenner? It seems that only the Left is supporting the protests outside Max Brenner, others have stayed away. Will the the international BDS movement try to direct the struggle to targets where larger numbers of people can be mobilised to participate in the actions? That is the broader front involving people not usually associated with left-wing revolutionary groups?
Meanwhile the campaign for UN recognition of a Palestinian state intensifies with non-violent marches and demonstrations planned like the world wide march on Jerusalem being organised for next year. And this being planned at a time when the tentacles of western countries reaching into the heart of the Arab Spring with troops and puppets deployed in Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and of course, as for the past 100 years in Palestine.
Recently pundits have claimed that the UN vote this month to recognise Palestine may be a backward step for the Palestinian cause — they do so on the basis that if successful, the initiative could further dis-empower and marginalize millions of Palestinian refugees. This could be overcome by granting passports to the Palestinian diaspora — thereby ensuring the right of return of all Palestinians to their homeland.
This surely is an age of imperialism and any effort to prevent the US and Israel from imposing their own agenda surely must be thwarted by any means possible?
(with thanks to CB)