Monday, May 27, 2013

Look out, here it comes!

Vanguard June 2013 p. 1
Nick G.

Like the bloody hand that is thrust up from the grave to grab a mourner’s wrist at the end of the horror film Carrie, the supposedly dead, buried and cremated WorkChoices has come back to life.
If the Coalition is re-elected on September 14, it will reinstate the construction bosses’ attack dog the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), restrict union right of entry provisions, further limit the right to strike, and extend so-called individual flexibility agreements (IFAs).  A Registered Organisations Commission will be established to intimidate and control union officials
through hefty fines and imprisonment.
And still the ruling class screams that this does not go far enough!  “Overly cautious” and “timid” are some of their criticisms of the Abbott-Abetz agenda.
Ruling class divided over tactics….
But Abbott is only following the advice of that faction within the ruling class that had its fingers burnt when workers were mobilised during the Your Rights At Work campaign.


(Above: From one nightmare to another)
They don’t want a big campaign by workers to upset their plans to take away our rights and conditions.

So for the moment, they are content to let Abbott build on measures already put in place by Labor in the Fair Work Act.  These include penalties for industrial action outside of bargaining periods and IFAs.
Abbott’s critics within the ruling class are impatient and want an immediate revival of WorkChoices.
Peter Reith, a former member of John Howard’s Cabinet, speaks for this group.  He derides Abbott’s “bandaid” IR policies as designed “to minimise a union campaign against the Coalition”. 
“Abbott’s policy is basically Labor’s policy,” he complains.
….but united over strategy
These disagreements really only relate to the speed at which an Abbott-led government would restore the essential components of WorkChoices.  There is no disagreement over the direction in which he is heading.
Abbott has signalled that the neoliberal Productivity Commission will be tasked with reviewing the Fair Work Act, and that a further series of IR changes to “boost productivity” and “restore international competitiveness” will be developed in time for the 2016 election.
As for Reith’s complaint that Abbott is just fine-tuning Labor policy, there is, after all, some truth to that.
Both parliamentary parties serve the decisive sections of the ruling class.  They both seek to control the workers so as to maximise the profitability of the huge, mainly multinational, corporations.  The cretinism of the whole parliamentary approach resides in the fact that they merely beg to differ on how best to do that.  Labor’s compromises with the demands of the ruling class simply ensure, as we see in the current context, that there is a basis for the more open attacks to be  pursued by the Coalition.
Build strength by rejecting Liberal and Labor

(Above: Taking the struggle beyond parliament to mobilise the working class)
So yes, it’s on its way.  The WorkChoices corpse has thrust its hand up from the grave.
For some people, this is as scary as the final moments of Carrie. 
They worry endlessly about how bad things are going to get under Abbott.
They despair about the ability of their union or community group to stand up to the threats already foreshadowed by the “timid” and “overly cautious” Abbott.
They lose sleep counting the seats that Labor will lose under a landslide win to the Coalition.
If only such energy from all these good people was put into building a really independent working class agenda through those unions and community organisations!
The days of relying on Labor to defend the people’s interests are gone - if they ever truly existed in the first place.
We are past that.  There is a widespread recognition that we are past that. But the confidence to pursue an alternative through a commitment to struggle outside of the parliamentary arena needs to be built.
It can be built.  It requires experienced and militant workers to take the lead as they did in the Your Rights At Work campaign.
We can’t stay on the parliamentary treadmill, covering the same ground and getting nowhere.
Our independent working class agenda will take shape.  Organisation to pursue that agenda will develop and grow.
And our direction will be as clear as Abbott’s and fundamentally in the opposite direction – towards anti-imperialist Australian independence, democratic working class rights and socialism.


Further reading: (Peter Reith's criticisms of Abbott) 

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