Bob Briton’s Wage theft by his previous Employer Communist Party of Australia (CPA)
Dear comrades and friends,
As you all probably know, the Australian Communist Party (ACP) was born out of a split from the Communist Party of Australia (CPA). The previous General Secretary of the CPA, Bob Briton, resigned in order to lead our new party. We have explained the reasons for the split in other documents.
The purpose of this statement is to expose the continuing vindictive, opportunist actions of the CPA leadership towards Bob Briton. We want to show you the true nature of the CPA, which proclaims itself to be a “workers party”. After Bob Briton’s resignation as a paid worker of the CPA, the CPA is playing the role of a dodgy boss by refusing to pay him his entitlements, which consist of his annual leave and his long service leave. They have also refused to provide him his separation form, preventing him from applying for Centrelink payments and assistance finding a job.
The CPA took roughly a month to calculate what he was owed and came back with the ridiculously low figure of $8,900 for 16 years of work. Bob Briton, in 16 years of employment with the CPA, took a grand total of 4 to 5 weeks of annual leave. He consistently worked more than 60 hours a week for the CPA despite only being paid for 20 hours, at $20 an hour. After a union industrial officer did the calculations, it turned out the CPA’s figure was obscenely low and he was owed $36,000, not $8,900! The CPA’s leaders talk a big game when it comes to workers’ rights yet are eager to rip their own employees off!
After his resignation, Bob was asked to return certain CPA property still in his possession, to secure his entitlements. Upon receiving this request, Bob promptly complied, returning all CPA property that he had previously used to fulfil his duties.
Despite this, Bob was left hanging for four months without a red cent from the CPA. After four months of tirelessly trying to secure his entitlements, he has been hit with a letter from Vinnie Molina, the CPA’s President, demanding some more “property be returned”.
We will address every single one of these specious demands in this statement. It should be pointed out, however, that none of these demands provide a valid excuse for not paying entitlements owed to a worker. No matter where you stand on the split , no worker should have their entitlements stolen by their employer. The ACP opposes all wage theft.
We demand the CPA pay the entitlements owed and take up any issues with the ACP. Only the dodgiest of employers refuse their workers entitlements once they cease employment. We call on friends of the Party and those who Bob has stood with over the decades to support Bob in his struggle for his entitlements.
CPA Reason for not paying Bob Briton – Facebook page
“To date, Mr Briton has not returned control of the original Communist Party of Australia Facebook Page, back to the Communist Party of Australia and instead has continued its use under the “Australian Communist Party” banner.”
It was the decision of the ACP, that the Facebook page would be wasted were it left to the CPA, as they regularly didn’t respond to enquiries or answer messages and they rarely ever engaged people to become active in the party or get involved in events. It would be irresponsible to leave this type of reach to the CPA. The page was made nearly 10 years ago and grown sluggishly since then. The now National Organiser of the ACP became an admin of the page and grew the page’s likes from 7000 to 10,000 in just over 4 months, a growth of 42%! The CPA’s position on this question is like a toddler who is only interested in a toy when a sibling picks it up.Arguments may continue about this decision but it is in no way a valid reason for withholding payment of entitlements to a worker.
2. CPA Reason for not paying Bob Briton – Archives from Melbourne Library
“The CPA archiving project undertaken by party comrades, for the Party, in the Party offices in Adelaide that produced a large number of computer files of scanned Socialist Party of Australia (SPA)/CPA archives and publications.
There are currently a number of these scanned historical publications that are displayed on the Australian Communist Party website. ACP Web site:www.auscp.org.au
Copies of these computer files were taken by Mr Briton and then cleared of the party computers. They are our property, need to be returned and these files cannot be used now or in the future.”
Not one of the archiving projects were taken or put on the party website. If the CPA were even interested in the history of the (original) Communist Party of Australia, they would have seen that all of these pamphlets were in fact publications of the original CPA, were collected from the Melbourne library and can be found online on this website: https://library.unimelb.edu.au/collections/special-collections/rare-books/australiana/cpa
Again, even if it were true, this false allegation is not a satisfactory reason for withholding entitlements from a worker.
3. CPA Reason for not paying Bob Briton – Youth Organisation Logo
“SPA logo for its youth organisation Young Socialist League of Australia has been taken with only a slight name change to Communist Youth League Australia (ACP).Our logo needs to be returned and cannot be used.”
The CPA doesn’t have a youth organisation at present despite being asked to create one while some members of the ACP were still in the CPA. The logo was made by two comrades of the ACP and was inspired by the defunct YSL (Young Socialist League) that ceased to exist over 30 years ago. The CPA has done everything it can to prevent the independent organisation of Communist youth in Australia. We decided to build a Young Communist League since the CPA refused to do so.
4. CPA Reason for not paying Bob Briton – Veterans Displayed on the Australian Communist Party website
“Pictures and profiles of CPA party leaders and veterans are displayed on the Australian Communist Party website that have been taken from SPA/CPA archives and publications. These are recognised SPA/CPA comrades with no association with ACP which cannot be used now or in the future.”
These veterans’ names and information were made available online for the public to view and research. Peter Symon left the original CPA because it became overwhelmed by “Eurocommunism” and right opportunism. We have honoured his memory and his contribution to the Communist cause because we believe he shared the same principles and beliefs that we do during his life. As for Jim Healey (mentioned in Molina’s laundry list), he was never a part of the SPA (now known as the CPA). He died in 1961 - ten years before the SPA/CPA split. The irony of the CPA leadership now trying to claim his legacy as their own while denying it to the ACP is incredible. Big Jim would be turning in his grave at this behaviour.
5. CPA Reason for not paying Bob Briton – CUDL
“The Community Union Defence League CUDL is a community organisation that was established in Adelaide and has always been under the control of the CPA.
A separate Sydney group only recently adopted the name without consultation with Adelaide or Perth CUDL organisations or the CPA leadership of the Community Alliance in Sydney.
Bob was one of the leaders of CUDL but on no occasion has a decision been taken at a meeting of CUDL to change who controls this organisation.
No right to use this name, logo and associated pictures of the actions in SA that include our comrades will be given now or in the future”
The organisation previously named Western Sydney Community Alliance (WSCA) had a public meeting with its members to discuss the name change. All leading members of WSCA were there and voted to change the name to Community Union Defence League. As a first step, we spoke directly to Adelaide members about expanding its reach to include community organising. Naturally, this was accepted and encouraged and no question of permission to use the same name was raised. It should be noted that we are not using the logo originally created by the Adelaide CUDL. We made another logo independently from the original and have also removed all images of action in SA some time ago.