“The union movement must take urgent action to end ALP backflips on its industrial relations policy,” Socialist Alliance national trade union coordinator Sue Bolton said today.
“We can all see what is happening”, she said. “First, the big mining, energy, media and construction corporations’ lobbying campaign has succeeded in forcing Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard to renege on Labor’s promise to abolish all Australian Workplace Agreements and the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
“Then all union leaders from Greg Combet down have remained tight-lipped for fear that, if they protest and Labor loses the federal election, defeat will be blamed on them.
Bolton asked: “Of course we need to vote Howard out, but what is the gain if the Labor Party keeps adopting Howard’s policies with the roughest edges rubbed off? The ALP won’t commit to restore any of the worker and union rights that Howard took away with the 1996 Workplace Relations Act and it will keep the Coalition’s draconian Welfare to Work legislation.”
The Socialist Alliance spokesperson said: “It’s high time for the unions to stop relying on the ALP to be the answer to the anti-worker Howard government.
“Rudd and Gillard’s recent policy backflips and their Labor attacks on building industry unions as ‘thuggish’ make it clear as day that they have accepted the biased propaganda of the big corporations.”
Bolton emphasised: “What Australian workers and communities urgently need from their unions is a mass industrial campaign for the repeal of all anti-worker laws brought in by the Howard government. That campaign must be independent of the ALP.
“Until the union movement commits to such a strategy, the corporations will demand more, Rudd and Gillard will carry on reneging and the promise to ‘tear up’ Work Choices will become a totally sick joke.”
The Socialist Alliance spokesperson stressed: “To restart serious action against Work Choices, the union movement needs to immediately launch plans for another mass National Day of Protest.
“But more than one protest will be needed. Unless the unions also kick off a campaign of industrial action, the voice of workers and their unions will be completely missing from the current media debate about industrial relations.”
Bolton concluded: “The experience of Labor backsliding on its policies before it is even elected makes it crystal clear: the ALP is interested in our rights at work only as far as these don’t interfere with the corporate “right” to make megabucks from our labour.“The urgent challenge before all of us who say we stand for workers’ interests is to work out how to build a new party that really does represent working people.”