May Day & Workers’ Rights

The workers of Australia are confronted with a choice at the federal election on 18 May. But it’s not the one you may imagine! The “choice” being presented through slick, corporate-funded election campaigns is between the openly pro-business “Liberal” party (in reality a conservative party) and its “National” coalition partner and “Labor” (actually the alternative party for the administration of capitalism).Workers should recall some history. The greatest gains were achieved and the most refreshing initiatives were undertaken when our trade unions had Communist leadership. They led resistance to war, defence against anti-union legislation from before the time of Menzies, the Green Bans to protect cultural and environmental heritage and much more. It is for this reason and drawing from this legacy that the Communist Party feels obliged to offer advice in the lead up to the upcoming election.

It could be argued that the Liberals will attack workers more openly and harshly. Their position on many issues confronting workers makes them an obvious contender for the bottom of the ballot paper you drop into the box on election day. Their championing of the anti-union ABCC, the scrapping of penalty rates and their overall cosiness with monopoly business interests marks them as an obvious enemy of workers’ interests.

The Federal Election

Labor is presenting itself as the workers’ friend at these elections. They are promising to “change the rules” that are choking the effectiveness of unions to defend workers’ rights. They say they are committed to guaranteeing a “living wage”, protection of the environment, refugee rights, and so on.

But Labor’s track record in government should make workers pause to think. They established the industrial relations framework that has betrayed workers so badly. They oversaw the de- industrialisation of the country and the wholesale destruction of skilled jobs. Predictably, they kept us locked in to the US alliance and the massive expenditure on the military it entails. The last time they were in government they merely rebadged the ABCC and did little to lift the cost of living and other pressures on working families. By all means, put Labor ahead of the Coalition but have no illusions about the ALP’s promises.

This election the Australian. Communist Party is asking workers to look deeper into basic political questions. Will electing Labor fundamentally change the precarious position of workers in today’s labour market? Will it guarantee access to secure, good quality housing, health care and education? Will it stop its meddling on behalf of the US in the affairs of sovereign countries? The answer is obvious. No.
Looking beyond the 18 May election, Communists and other sincere trade unionists should work towards unions independent of all party affiliations and agendas. In this way unions will be free to push for members’ rights and their longer term interests with a change of economic and social system without the current constraints.

The Lure of the Lesser Evil

"Some Continue to involve themselves in major party contests for the same reason as do millions of others; out of fear of one or another candidate.Thus we are urged to support Carter to stop Reagan, or support Kennedy or Anderson to stop Carter, or Humphrey to stop Nixon, Or Hindenburg to stop Hitler.

Known to all of us as the lesser of two evils, this phenomenon is probably the single greatest inducement to electoral participation.

Time and time again millions go to the polls not so much to vote for but against someone.

It is a marvellous device.You offer the people a candidate who violates their interest and who serves the ruling class. Then you offer them another candidate who promises to be even worse.

Thus you not so much offer them a choice as force them into a choice. It is another example of how under capitalism supply creates demand"

- Michael Parenti

PDF copy May Day Leaflet