Yes to Equal Marriage Rights….and a Workers Republic!

21-10-2017 – As partisans of the forward march of humanity, the Workers League fully supports the aims of the “Yes” campaign relating to the right of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI) people to be entitled to all benefits relating to the concept of marriage. Even though the postal survey does not actually bind the current legislators to act, the survey is seen by most as a referendum on equality and acceptance of all variants of human sexuality. While the winning of the right for all those identifying somewhere on the LGBTI spectrum to marry whomsoever they choose will not end the manifestations of oppression and discrimination, any concession wrested from the elite rulers of this unequal society represents a victory worth celebrating.

LGBTI discrimination under capitalism stunts the development of human and societal relationships, while relegating those on the LGBTI spectrum to second class status. While the winning of equal marriage rights will go some way towards alleviating the deprivations endured, in itself it cannot end LGBTI oppression. This oppression is bound up with the “sacred” right to private property, without which the rule of capital would fall. In 1884, Frederick Engels, one of the founders of scientific socialism, identified the three main pillars of class society – the family, private property and the state. LGBTI oppression flows from the institution of the family, particularly the monogamous and heterosexual template, which represents class society’s smallest repressive unit. It is reinforced by the strongest arms of capitalist rule – its state, via its parliaments, police, civil service bureaucracy and the law courts. Same-sex relationships challenge the form of the family, but legal recognition of them under capitalism does not do away with the material basis which sustains and maintains homophobia. This requires a workers movement strong enough to wage a struggle for its complete liberation – the prerequisite of which is the overturn of finance capital and the founding of a workers republic.

Shady Allies

We note that the revolutionary overthrow of the rule of the banks and the stock exchange is far from the agenda of those leading the Equal Marriage Rights campaign. On the contrary, while the equal marriage rights campaign has been largely led by activists outside of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Australian Greens, it nonetheless welcomes the formation of an open front with them, which immediately shuts off the politics from developing in a radical direction. It was the ALP itself which strongly voted with the Liberals in 2004 for the discrimination against the LGBTI community, and the ALP ignored the equal marriage rights campaign for over ten years. It was only after the momentum for marriage equality, backed by years of activism, had reached the stage where the overwhelming majority of young people, and the clear majority of the Australian people, were in favour – did the ALP finally put its hand up. While it is true the Australian Greens have always held the position of supporting equal marriage rights, the Greens tend to view victory as winning an argument, or as a result of more education. This outlook conforms to their unattainable “humane capitalism” ethos.

One glance at the list of corporate endorsees of the Yes campaign is enough to trigger alarms bells in workers with even an elementary sense of class consciousness. All manner of exploitative and profit gouging corporations have willingly handed over their colourful logos to the Yes campaign. For example, after slashing thousands of jobs and raking in vast profits, QANTAS, the Commonwealth Bank and Telstra appear as sponsors. The owner of Coles, Bunnings, Officeworks and numerous other retail chains, Wesfarmers, one of the largest corporations in Australia, is also an endorsee. Australia’s workforce is 40% casual, contract or temporary, causing immense insecurity for millions of workers. Yet the Skilled company, one of the largest casual staff employers, is also an endorsee.

It doesn’t stop there. If the genocidal Salafist and Wahabist mercenaries of Al Qaeda and ISIS had, in their role as US and Saudi armed proxies, succeeded in overthrowing the Syrian government, it is likely that many LGBTI Syrians would have been summarily executed, in the same manner as they did to anyone perceived to be supporting the Syrian Arab Republic. Yet some of the most outspoken, if indirect, backers of the US/UK/AUST war on Syria – pro-war NGOs such as Amnesty International, GetUp! and the grossly misnamed Save the Children – turn out to be corporate backers of the Yes campaign.

Organised Labour must lead

It should be obvious what the limitations of such an extreme cross-class alliance leads to – an alibi for corporate power, which in practice means an alibi for the very system responsible for LGBTI repression in the first place. On the other hand, it is noted that some Unions have backed the Yes campaign, or at least put their name to it, much in the manner of the corporations they are supposed to protect workers from. Unions WA, the Victorian Trades Hall Council, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), Queensland Teachers Union (QTU) and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) have all added their logos to the Yes campaign.

Yet logos in themselves are not enough – especially when placed alongside corporate logos. What is needed is for the Union leaderships to champion LGBTI liberation through the efforts of working people to break from the chains of capital. This will require the formation of a Marxist vanguard party, which can position the conservative leadership of the peak Union bodies in the struggle against that which restrains LGBTI and non-LGBTI workers alike – the profit system. 2017 marks 100 years of the October Revolution in Russia, where working people, led by VI Lenin’s Bolsheviks, seized power and created the world’s first socialist state. Soon after, one of the first acts of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was the abolition of all Tsarist laws which criminalised homosexual activity and relationships – the first state defence of LGBTI people in history. For new October Revolutions!

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO  Box   66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

Catalonia: The Affluent “Revolution”

Map showing the location of Catalonia within Spain. Image from Wikipedia

15-10-2017 – When is a revolution not a revolution? Amongst other things, it is when it is led by wealthy industrialists and conservative politicians, and when it is not supported by a majority of its people. Witness Catalonia today. All manner of misguided left parties and those who take a progressive political stand generally have been taken in by this movement for separatist independence of the wealthiest region of modern day Spain. It is true that there is right wing opposition to this movement, from Spanish nationalists to the conservative Spanish government, to the imperialist dominated European Union (EU). But the fact is, this movement is not supported by a majority of Catalans, even if the majority of Catalans and Spaniards support the right to vote on the question.

Catalonian wealth

Catalonia is the wealthiest region of Spain, bar none. Andalusia in the south of Spain, for example, has less than two thirds the per capita income of Catalonia.[1] It was never really industrialised, unlike the industry which was developed in Catalonia. Many suspect that the current push for Catalonian independence has much to do with the fact that the wealthy business owners and industrialists resent having to pay taxes to the Spanish state, which then redistributes much of them to the poorer regions of Spain, such as Andalusia and Galicia. Of course, this is relative, as a capitalist state’s prime function is far from ensuring the welfare of the masses. Catalonia has 7.3 million people, and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over $300 billion, similar to that of Scotland and Singapore.[2] It goes without saying that the Catalan working class does not automatically share in this wealth, but the region itself is not short of a quid.

Under normal circumstances, the left usually comes behind a small prospective nation against a larger one, or a nation seeking national liberation against stronger imperialist powers. There is a sense of siding with the underdog, of siding with the less powerful against the mighty. However, the situation of Catalonia today is not what any self-respecting leftist would refer to as “normal”. By definition, it can’t be a “revolution” if it is led by the wealthiest sections of a society, and/or their political representatives. The affluent have never been oppressed by the poor, and never can be.

One can agree that Catalonia meets the criteria for the Marxist conception of a nation, that is, it contains: 1. a common language (Catalan), a common territory, a common economy and a common culture. And leftists usually point to Lenin’s work affirming that Marxists can support the right of a nation to self-determination – the right to self-administration up to and including the right to secede, to form their own nation.[3] However, what some left parties misunderstand is that while Marxists support the right of nations to self-determination, it does not follow automatically that Marxists will advocate the exercise of that right. Whether or not Marxists advocate the exercise of the right of nations to self-determination depends almost entirely on whether this will advance, or set back, the class struggle, both in the oppressed nation and the oppressor nations. If self-determination will clear the way for better conditions for the working class struggle to advance, for example, where national oppression is so great that it clouds over other political issues, then Marxists may decide to support it. If, on the other hand, the exercise of self-determination may lead to the setting back of the working class struggle, for example by unnecessarily boosting harmful nationalism, and cutting workers of small and large nations off from one another, then Marxists may actually campaign against the exercise of the right to self-determination. That leftists should automatically support the exercise of the right to self-determination, regardless of the concrete analysis of concrete conditions, is in flagrant contradiction to Leninism.

In 2017, and for the last five years or so, the Catalonian independence movement has been politically led by conservative nationalists, with links to the Catalan bourgeois class. How conservative? For one thing, these leaders have been, and remain, staunchly in favour of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation – the military arm of anti-Russian US led imperialism).  Former Catalonian Prime Minister Artur Mas made it explicit – Catalonia actively seeks membership of NATO.[4] NATO is arguably the most dangerous organisation in the world today, and the one most likely to be at the heart of itself igniting World War III. One could sustain a case that NATO is thus the most politically reactionary body existing. Yet NATO membership is dearly held by Catalonian independence leaders. One doesn’t have to be a Marxist to recognise something is amiss here.

This alone is enough to recoil, but there is more. The Catalonian independence movement is also pro-EU (European Union). Catalan leaders recently re-stated that a breakaway Catalonia would seek to remain a part of the EU – even despite the EU saying that it won’t recognise an independent Catalonia if not completed via the Spanish constitution.[5] The EU is an imperialist trading bloc, where the stronger imperialist powers, such as Germany and France, lord it over the poorer southern countries such as Portugal, Greece, and Spain itself. It functions to suppress the wages and working conditions of all workers across Europe to advantage European capital against its US and Japanese rivals – even if the US and Japan are mired in capitalist recession, and have been for some years. The pro-EU politics of Catalan leaders is another indication of how right-wing they are.

Democratic?

Undoubtedly there are some left-wing minded Catalans who have been drawn into the campaign for independence. A possible reason for this is that they mistakenly believe that Catalonian independence will lead to an end to the crushing unemployment and austerity measures being implemented across Spain in the wake of the capitalist financial crisis in 2008. However, a majority of Catalans have never favoured independence outright, and certainly not separatist independence. Many polls show that support amongst Catalans for independence has never reached more than around 41%. Support amongst Catalans to a unilateral declaration of independence is even smaller, at 35%. Opposition to a unilateral declaration of independence amongst Catalans stands at 60%, with a near overwhelming 67% opposition to this taking place without a debate in the Catalonian regional parliament.[6]

The left could even consider backing an independence movement if it had a majority of working class people backing it. But this is extremely doubtful in the case of Catalonia. The October 1 referendum, despite a rough-handed attempt to prevent it being carried out by the Spanish police, only had a turn-out of around 2 million votes. Of these, 90.9% supported independence, while 7.87% opposed independence.[7]  So, approximately 5.3 million Catalans did not vote at all – and it is fairly safe to say that the overwhelming majority of these folk did not turn out to vote due to the fact that they were NOT in favour of independence. Of course, this is a separate matter from having the right to vote for independence. But the left should know better than to back an independence movement which does NOT have majority support.

It is the case that the attempted repression meted out by the Spanish authorities against the holding of the referendum may push some more Catalans into supporting the push for independence. But this is by no means guaranteed. In fact, there was a response by those supporting unity with Spain, in a rally on October 8. Some reports put attendance at up to a million people, many waving Spanish flags.[8] To be sure, there was a component, perhaps even the leading elements, which were mobilising on the basis of Spanish nationalism. There was also support for the EU – which the bourgeois led Catalonian independence movement also supports. Yet there was also a clear element of a unity with Spain sentiment, which, from all reports, constitutes the majority within Catalonia. This is the case even if there are major concerns about unemployment, austerity, and so on.

In fact, the majority of Catalans who support unity with Spain are also more than aware that it was in fact the conservative politicians who have led the independence movement themselves who have carried out austerity measures. This has included eliminating public service jobs and slashing wages at the behest of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 2013, Catalonia’s ambulance workers were forced to take industrial action against a 9.2% wage cut.[9] These savage austerity measures have been carried out by the Catalonian government itself, which is now leading the independence movement!

Amongst the reasons why the Catalonian independence movement does not have overwhelming, or even majority support – is the question of language. It is true that Catalan was forbidden in Catalonia during the 40 odd years of Francoist rule, from the 1930s to the 1970s. Since then Catalan has been bilingual – Catalan and Spanish – while the majority of government, academic and institutional language is usually carried out in Catalan. Yet Catalonia also includes a large proportion of working people from the other regions of Spain, as well as migrants. Neither of these groups have Catalan as their first language. In fact, the Catalonian government’s own statistics show that less than a third – 31% – of Catalonian residents speak Catalan as a first language.[10] Despite this, the Catalonian independence parties want Catalan to be the only language for public affairs.

Nationalism is not the answer

What is more, even the moderate left, let alone Marxists, have to be concerned when a police chief is regarded as a hero by the nationalists. The chief of police of the Catalonian autonomous region, Josep Lluis Trapero, once gave a press conference, as head of the Mossos d’Esquadra (regional police). One reporter walked out when they discovered it was being held in the Catalan language. Trapero reportedly said in response “Okay, very well. So, goodbye”. This farewell in Spanish is now often used by Catalonian independence supporters – a measure of the lack of class awareness.[11] It hardly needs to be said that the police are the bitter class enemies of working people, whether in a small regional capitalist autonomous region, OR in a larger national capitalist state. The logic of small time nationalism – in this case upholding the police as “heroes” very easily lends itself to big power nationalism.

Some left parties say that there are both left wing and right wing Catalonian independence parties, and so the task is to assist the “left”. Yet the “left” they refer to is not socialist in the Marxist sense, even if they refer to themselves as “socialists”. The Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), reserve the use of “socialist” and “feminist” rhetoric, but overall they are similar to the Greek SYRIZA party of Alexis Tsipras – which led Greek workers into the catastrophe of imposed austerity which was far-worse than the former “social-democratic” politicians they replaced. The CUP currently holds 10 seats in the Catalan regional parliament, and is a part of the JxSi (Together for Yes) Coalition, alongside the Catalan Repulican Left (ERC) and the Catalan Democratic Party of Europe (PDeCAT).[12] The PDeCAT party is the right-wing party of Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont. So the CUP attempts to be the “left” force – while in direct coalition with the right-wing nationalists. The experience of SYRIZA in Greece in 2015 gives a clear indication of where that strategy hits the rocks.

Nationalism is never the answer to pressing political problems facing the working people. As Boris Kagarlitsky writes, whenever the nationalists hold the upper hand, the left is weak. Conversely, whenever the left is the strongest and most influential, nationalists and nationalism often fade away into irrelevance.[13] The task for the left in Catalonia and Spain and Europe today is to unite working people against the profit system. In this case, dividing workers up into smaller and smaller nations can only fuel further isolation from one another, at a time when the greatest pro-working class unity against European capitalism is needed. Austerity can only be defeated by a widespread workers’ struggle for revolutionary power, opening the gates of true socialism. Marxist vanguard parties which prioritise the struggle to win over the majority of Catalan, Spanish, European and international workers to this perspective are the key to solving this and other crucial problems of our time.
————————————————————————————————————

WORKERS  LEAGUE

PO Box 66   NUNDAH  QLD   4012
E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

 

[1] https://benjaminstudebaker.com/2017/09/22/the-left-wing-case-against-catalan-independence/ (14-10-2017)

[2] http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com.au/2017/10/catalan-independence-5-things-to-think.html (14-10-2017)

[3] https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/jan/x01.htm (14-10-2017)

[4] https://www.vilaweb.cat/noticia/4165393/20140105/catalan-pm-confirms-nato-membership-commitment-to-collective-security.html (14-10-2017)

[5] http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/10/08/could-independent-catalonia-stay-eu (14-10-2017)

[6] https://elpais.com/elpais/2017/05/24/inenglish/1495609585_875590.html (15-10-2017)

[7] https://www.sott.net/article/363392-Catalonia-heads-to-the-polls-for-independence-referendum-amid-violent-police-measures-UPDATES (15-10-2017)

[8] https://www.rt.com/news/406049-protest-against-catalan-independence/ (15-10-2017)

[9] http://www.catalannews.com/society-science/item/ambulance-workers-go-on-strike-in-catalonia-for-four-days-but-essential-services-are-guaranteed (15-10-2017)

[10] http://llengua.gencat.cat/web/.content/documents/publicacions/altres/arxius/EULP2013_angles.pdf (15-10-2017)

[11] http://www.internationalist.org/cataloniaselfdetermination1709.html (15-10-2017)

[12] https://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2017/09/29/the-cup (15-10-2017)

[13] https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/11/catalonia-the-revolt-of-the-rich/ (15-10-2017)

Change the Rules or Change the System?

Change the Rules or Change the System?

07-10-2017 – Australian workers are enduring wave after wave of an ongoing onslaught against their wages and conditions. It is not just penalty rates either. The Union movement has arguably never faced such governmental restriction on what was previously regarded as lawful activity. The right to organise a Union, the right of Union officials to meet with members on the job, the right to speak to workers about a Union – all of these and more are in danger of being legislated out of existence. Then we have the assault from employers themselves. Some of them have already tried – successfully – to cancel previously agreed enterprise bargaining agreements, and throw workers back on award conditions – potentially meaning the loss of thousands of dollars per year in employee income.

“Ensuring Integrity” Bill

Currently before federal parliament is the outlandishly misnamed Ensuring Integrity Bill, put as an amendment to the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009. The measures contained in this bill would not be out of place in Nazi Germany. It was the Nazis who, on coming to power, outlawed Trade Unions in toto. This “Ensuring Integrity” bill does not outlaw Unions as such, but outlaws major parts of their activity. The Bill, if passed, will allow the Federal Government to directly interfere with the internal operations of Unions. The Bill would allow the government to: disqualify certain Union members from holding a Union position, prevent basic Union activity – such as stopping work over a health and safety issue or incident, to deregister Unions, to place Unions into administration and to prevent Union mergers from going ahead.[1] On top of a restriction where it is basically illegal to take industrial action at any time apart from “bargaining periods” – and then only through secret ballots – this Bill is arguably an attempt by the ruling class to see just how far they can go.
It is not enough for capital to keep wages of workers down. It is generally agreed that the rate of wage growth in Australia this year is the lowest in recorded history.[2] The dire crisis of profitability means that capital also wants to control even more about what potential struggles Unions can lead. The “Ensuring Integrity Bill” seems to be an attempt to head off a Union campaign before it even starts, by using the ability to dismiss certain Union officials if they actually start to organise workers to fight back. Failing this, the Bill could be used to simply deregister the Union, and dismantle it altogether. There is little that is different between a fascist government outlawing trade unions as per the Nazis, and a “liberal democratic” government deregistering and disbanding a union. The effect is the same – a massive blow to virtually the only organisations that stand in the way of workers being subjected to unfettered capitalist exploitation. There is an economic, political and psychological aspect to this insidious attack on all working people.

The fruits of Enterprise Bargaining

The industrial relations situation for Australian workers today is almost totally weighted in favour of the employers, especially big industry groups and the government, and almost totally against workers and their Unions. Arguably, this is the end result of the Enterprise Bargaining system brought in by the Keating Labour government from 1991. Prior to the introduction of Enterprise Bargaining, workers and their Unions were not restricted as to when, and over which issues, they could take industrial action – up to and including strike action. While going on strike was never enshrined in law, prior to the introduction of Enterprise Bargaining, Unions could go on strike and push for their demands to be met. The government and employers would have to go to court themselves in order to claim damages, for example. However, Enterprise Bargaining brought with it the notion of “protected industrial action”. This meant that workers and their Unions could legally take industrial and/or strike action – but only during a “bargaining period”, i.e. the negotiation of a new Enterprise Bargaining agreement, usually once every three years. For the rest of the three years, workers were legally prevented from withdrawing their labour – over any issue at all.

Enterprise bargaining changed the landscape of industrial relations, almost wholly to the benefit of employers over workers. While some workplaces were able to gain pay rises and conditions that were above award conditions, many others did not. The horizon of workers was especially narrowed, as they were encouraged to see themselves not as part of an entire industry, but as an individual company or area battling away, competing against all others. Employers were often encouraged to use Enterprise Bargaining to introduce all kinds of practices which assisted them, to the detriment of workers, such as “multiskilling” – the virtual elimination of specialised roles.[3] For workers, it led to a situation of profound disempowerment. Instead of working with thousands of other workers across an entire industry pushing for the best pay and conditions for all within the sector, workers only had the small confines of their enterprise. This dramatically shifted power to the employers. What is more, workers were encouraged to see themselves as bound to protect the profitability of their own enterprise – often at their own expense. Hard won conditions could be traded away with the excuse that the enterprise could no longer afford them, in order to be “competitive”.

“Change the Rules” campaign

Many workers mistakenly believe that corporations and the governments which serve them are now too powerful, and that Unions are not able to fight back because they are legislatively prevented from doing so. This sentiment reflects not the power of capital per se, but the dire lack of leadership on the side of labour, which boils down to the Trade Union leaderships around the country. Enterprise Bargaining may have begun the breakup of workers across an industry, but this has been facilitated at each step by conservative officials, who are ideologically tied to the capitalist system – and therefore the employer class itself. There are a few exceptions, but there are scarcely any Union officials willing to organise a class struggle fightback not only against anti-worker laws, but against the profit system as a whole.

What we have instead from the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is the “Change the Rules” campaign. While it is welcome that there is any national campaign at all, the ACTU’s “Change the Rules” has little chance of repealing the misnamed Fair Work Act, and replacing it with pro-worker and pro-Union legislation. This is because it is ultimately an electoral campaign, rather than an industrial campaign. In its purest form, it is yet another re-elect the Australian Labor Party effort – in two years’ time! Correctly, the ACTU note that 40% of the workforce is in casual or contract employment, and thus many workers do not experience a paid holiday or a paid sick day. They note that inequality is at a 70 year high, and that wage growth is the lowest it has ever been.[4] All well and good. However, for this disastrous state of affairs, the ACTU point the finger at…the Liberal Party and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash.[5]

However, it is evident that the all sided assault on workers is coming from the entire political establishment – Labor, Liberal, One Nation, the lot. The Greens offer some cautious words of support, but are tied into the parliamentary gravy train just as much as the major parties. This is because the real source of the attacks on workers is private capital itself (the basis of the parliamentary system), which is facing an ongoing crisis of profitability, and can only react by making workers pay. The increasing application of automation to workplaces – including “robotisation” is eliminating jobs, rather than reducing working hours and increasing the standard of living. The means of production remain in the hands of private profit-seeking business. State and Federal governments are privatising more and more functions previously peformed by the public service – and handing them directly to the private sector. Yet even with this massive assistance, the private sector is not able to re-engage in the serious production of goods and services. Capitalism has reached an impasse – and it is not going back to the “mixed economy”, or the “welfare state”.

Class struggle leadership of the Unions desperately needed

When Sally McManus became head of the ACTU, some left parties welcomed the apparent change of outlook. “Bad laws have to be broken”, Ms McManus stated. But it soon became obvious that it was not going to be followed by any action – other than token online petitions, the occasional rally and a press release. Socialist Alternative correctly note that Union activism has to be rebuilt on the workplace floor, after three decades of attacks on Unions which have largely led to demobilisation, and thus demoralisation. They also note this is a political task as much as an industrial one.[6] Solidarity urge workers to heed the words of Sally McManus, and launch themselves into the struggle.[7] The Socialist Alliance laud the work of Sally McManus for heading the campaign, albeit with the plea for more to be done.[8] The Communist Party of Australia (CPA), are the most enthusiastic in signing up to the “Change the Rules” campaign, with not even one iota of a critique of the ACTU leadership. They even endorse the ACTU leadership’s diversionary calls for a “community” campaign.[9]   What all of these left parties lack is a perspective of seriously challenging, and ultimately replacing, the class collaborationist ACTU and local Union officials with leaderships dedicated to hard class struggle. We will be waiting an eternity for the ACTU and local Union officials to even contemplate such a struggle. It’s not on their agenda.

Many Unions can go for two to three years, without the officials organising even one general meeting of members. There are intense political reasons why the conservative officials avoid organising basic meetings. For one thing, they are aware that the resentment of workers over the loss of pay, worsening conditions, harassment by management at work and a host of other issues, are at a peak. But at a gathering of Union members, the officials’ control over the Union is potentially threatened. Ideas for action can be raised, proposals put forward, workers can draw strength from one another, and more. All of this confronts the no-action approach of conservative officials head-on. So the officials simply refuse to organise even the most basic method of giving Union members some form of say over the direction of the Union they pay their fees to. Whether the Union organises 24 meetings per year, or zero meetings per year, the considerable pay of the officials does not change one iota. Meanwhile, workers suffer.

Workers need to start organising as soon as they are able. Perhaps with some exceptions, rank and file groups will need to be organised within virtually all Unions. Within these rank and file groups, leftist and anti-capitalists should, wherever possible, work together to encourage workers to demand urgent action from the Union officials. Unilateral actions called by these rank and file groups will also be needed – with or without the endorsement of the Union officials. These rank and file groups should also be prepared to picket the offices of their own Unions, demanding action. Organising meetings of members without the sanction of the Union officials will be an unavoidable necessity.

At the very least, the Unions should be leading a national industrial struggle for a shorter working week with no loss in pay. A 30 hour week would be a good start. Serious, nation-wide struggles over this basic demand, which, if won, would substantially undermine unemployment and increase the amount of disposable income of workers, returning a stimulus of the economy even on the terms of the business class itself. This could then set the stage for winning permanent jobs for all workers, and would embolden workers to demand adequate health and safety, the retention of penalty rates, and more.

The reign of capital will resist furiously, which would only point to the need not for a changing of the rules, but a changing of the entire system. Working people need not only a new industrial relations act. Workers ultimately need a state and a government which they own and which defends their interests. No capitalist government, no matter how liberal, can ever fully meet the needs of all workers of all generations to come. What is needed is a workers republic – a government which rests on the organised power of workers themselves. Leading them will be the most class-conscious workers, composed in a vanguard party of activists committed to the struggle for the sweeping away of the power of private capital and the initiation of a socialist order. This system change is the only one which can “change the rules”.

 

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2017/1797/01-affront.html (07-10-2017)

[2] http://www.abc.net.au/news/factcheck/2016-06-17/fact-check-is-wage-growth-lowest-on-record/7505512 (07-10-2017)

[3] http://www.peopleculture.com.au/innovation-in-the-workplace-under-the-fair-work-act/ (10-10-17)

[4] https://www.australianunions.org.au/change_the_rules (11-10-17)

[5] https://www.actu.org.au/actu-media/media-releases/2017/actu-launches-change-the-rules-campaign-in-western-australia (11-10-17)

[6] https://redflag.org.au/node/6025 (11-10-17)

[7] https://www.solidarity.net.au/highlights/enterprise-bargaining-un-fair-work-act/ (11-10-17)

[8] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/time-change-broken-industrial-relations-system (11-10-17)

[9] http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2017/1796/07-change.html (11-10-17)

Despite the efforts of some workers, penalty rates have been removed from a number of industries. Image from the Illawarra Mercury.