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Melbourne: Noel Washington Rally

category indonesia / philippines / australia | workplace struggles | news report author Friday December 05, 2008 19:07author by Ablokeimet (MACG) - Anarkismoauthor email macg1984 at yahoo dot com dot au Report this post to the editors

Against ABCC

If we're to win this struggle, it can only be through mass non co-operation, backed up by strikes if necessary, and by not holding back for the benefit of the Labor Party. It remains to be seen if the officials have the commitment they were putting on display this week.

On the morning of Tuesday 2 December, about 5000 protesters assembled outside the offices of the Australian Building & Construction Commission (ABCC) in St Kilda Rd, Melbourne. About 80% were CFMEU members (construction unionists), most of whom had walked off the job illegally, while most of the rest were members of other unions coming in organised detachments.. We were there to celebrate the dropping of the charges against Noel Washington, a union organiser, who was being prosecuted for refusing to attend an interview with the ABCC, and to demand the abolition of the ABCC itself. The Director of Public Prosecutions had dropped the charges only days beforehand, on a technicality that is usually overlooked.

The mood at the rally was both cheerful and angry. Unionists were greatly encouraged that the charges had been dropped, but angry that many others were still being hauled before the ABCC for compulsory interviews, with no right to silence, and a ban on revealing what was discussed. The union officials at last made the call for mass nonco-operation with the ABCC, something they had been refraining from until now. If they're serious about it, there will be a show-down soon and it will be all hands on deck to defend elementary civil liberties in the workplace.

The role of the Labor Party government in this dispute was something that couldn't be avoided. Most of the union officials tried to be euphemistic, but even they had to discuss the large amount of “unfinished business” that is left out of the Labor Party's intended industrial relations reforms. Some speakers were not so diplomatic and pointedly referred to the way the Labor Party was refusing to abolish the ABCC. If we're to win this struggle, it can only be through mass non co-operation, backed up by strikes if necessary, and by not holding back for the benefit of the Labor Party. It remains to be seen if the officials have the commitment they were putting on display this week.

Ablokeimet.

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