Resolution In Defence Of Our Trade Unions
At the founding Congress of the Australian Communist Party, the Party expressed its concern at developments in the war on our unions and solidarity with those forces resisting the latest attacks. We denounce efforts to advance the capitalist agenda under the guise of criticism of individual trade union leaders. The latest measures being proposed by the government are a grave threat to the vestiges of workers’ right to organise in the defence of their own interests and the ACP calls for the greatest unity and resistance to them.
Over the past decades, there have been systematic attacks starting from the Prices and incomes Accord moving on to increasing bureaucracy for unions by introducing Enterprise Bargaining. This made industrial action a foreign concept to workers concealed by layers of steps, industry bargaining made illegal, and laws prohibiting pattern bargaining. This consists of using the same Enterprise Agreement across different sites or workplaces and is seen as a loophole to gain Industry bargaining. The consequences of these measures have taken a huge toll on workers’ pay and conditions in many industries.
Australian governments, both Liberal and Labor, have contributed to the destruction of our trade unions.
The latest attack is the “Ensuring Integrity Bill”, which has not yet been legislated. However, there is a draft copy which gives us a good indication of the intention of this bill.
The integrity bill is designed to have the powers to disqualify elected trade union officials and deregister unions on the basis of their disqualification. The following excerpts should rouse the concern and anger of all class-conscious workers.
(2) The following are designated laws:
(a) this Act;
(b) the Fair Work Act;
(c) the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016;
(d) the Fair Work (Building Industry) Act 2012 as in force at any time before its repeal;
(e) Part IV of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (and any other provision of the Act so far as it applies in relation to Part IV) and the Competition Code of each State and Territory;
(f) the Work Health and Safety Act 2011;
(g) each State or Territory OHS law (within the meaning of the Fair Work Act);
(h) Part 7.8 of the Criminal Code (causing harm to, and impersonation and obstruction of, Commonwealth public officials) and any other provision of the Code so far as it applies in relation to that Part.
Wider criminal findings
(3) A wider criminal finding is a finding (other than a designated finding) in any criminal proceedings against a person that the person has committed an offence against any law of the Commonwealth or a State or Territory.
This has real life implications for some of the few unions left in Australia who are taking militant actions within their industries. The aim of this bill is to hold the trade union movement to ransom so we never see a militant trade union movement in the present or future. It seeks to achieve a union movement submissive to the ALP, a union movement that doesn’t intend to challenge employers and corporations.
“The aim of this bill is to hold the trade union movement to ransom so we never see a militant trade union movement in the present or future”
The Liberal government was unable to implement this Bill due to resistance from unions and the public. However, recent events surrounding John Setka, the Victorian Secretary of the Construction division of the CFMMEU, which have led to the ALP and Australian Council of Trade Unions to call for his resignation, increase the likelihood of the Bill passing in the future. Most of the union movement is calling on John Setka to resign over domestic violence charges. The charges involved the sending of four outrageous text messages to his wife and in no way do we condone or excuse his actions.
Unions do not have the power to disqualify employers for their conduct towards members of the public or even their families; so why should the employers and their servants in government determine who should be leaders of unions? The ACP believes the only people who should determine the leadership of a union are its members.
The ACP demands the ACTU, the ALP and the government to respect the right of CFMMEU members to choose their own leadership and will be active in driving home this demand. This democratic right is fundamental to the preservation of genuine trade union activity and necessary for the development of militant trade unionism. In the struggle for class-conscious trade unionism workers can continue to count on the support of the Australian Communist Party.