Dick Nichols, Socialist Alliance National Coordinator, today described Kevin Rudd’s decision to convene a special meeting of the ALP National Executive to expel Joe McDonald, assistant secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union in Western Australia, as marking “a new high tide of anti-unionism in the so-called party of the unions”.
He called on the ACTU and individual unions like the CFMEU to cut their funding to the ALP if federal Labor’s attacks on unionists didn’t stop.
“What exactly was McDonald’s crime?”, Nichols asked. “He swore at a manager from a building company that was using the anti-union police force of the Australian Building and Construction Commission to reduce the CFMEU’s ability to monitor health and safety in a dangerous industry—and for his pains he gets thrown out of the ALP.”
Nichols added: “This scandal has happened under anti-worker legislation which the ALP is formally committed to repeal, but which Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard now say they will ‘phase out’—against the opinion of former ACTU secretary (and ALP candidate) Greg Combet.”
The Socialist Alliance coordinator stated that it was impossible to defend people’s rights at work without breaking anti-union laws, especially laws as draconian as those that set up the ABCC—which even eliminate the right to silence.
Nichols added: “The Rudd-Gillard leadership’s surrender before corporate and Coalition pressure over industrial relations isn’t just cowardly and hypocritical—it’s also plain stupid from the point of view of winning the coming federal election.
“Every time Rudd tries to prove he’s as tough on ‘union thugs’ as Hockey and Howard he invites those scoundrels to intensify the attack against Labor on the industrial relations front. As a result the Coalition, which was put on the ropes by the Your Rights at Work campaign, could even make a comeback.
“It’s high time Rudd and Gillard stopped attacking unionists who are just doing their job, and started talking about what Work Choices is really doing to the lives of working people.
“For example, they might begin by expressing some concern about the work regime at Telstra, which as Four Corners showed this week, drove two workers to suicide.”
The Socialist Alliance spokesperson concluded: “The ACTU and individual unions like the CFMEU should demand that Rudd and Gillard stop their union-bashing drivel that just helps the Coalition. To ram the message home they should threaten a redistribution of union election funding away from the ALP towards those parties with a more principled pro-worker and pro-union stance.
“They should also decide immediately to hold another massive National Day of Protest against Work Choices which demands that Rudd and Gillard commit to really tearing Howard’s vile legislation—Australian Workplace Agreements, ABCC and all.”