Monday, June 24, 2013

Vanguard July 2013

Treaty now, treaty yeah!

Vanguard July 2013 p. 1
Nick G.

(Above: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a proud history of struggle for sovereign rights.)

Progressive Australians were saddened recently to hear of the passing away of Yothu Yindi lead singer Mr Yunupingu[1].

With singer-songwriter Paul Kelly and members of Midnight Oil, Mr Yunupingu created the defiant and challenging song “Treaty”.

Treaty promised but never delivered

“Treaty” was composed in 1991 to demand that the Australian government honour a promise made by then Prime Minister Bob Hawke that his government would enter into a Treaty with Indigenous Australians by 1990.

Hawke made the promise after being presented with a bark petition (below) calling for a Treaty at the Barunga Festival in the Northern Territory in 1988.

 

The promise of a Treaty made by Hawke was ultimately worth as much as his infamous promise that “no child will live in poverty by 1990”.

Yet calls for a Treaty still resonate within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) communities.  Its advocates seek formal acknowledgement that Australia and its islands were occupied and owned by Indigenous first nations prior to their unsettlement by British colonialism.

They seek formal acknowledgement that these lands were never ceded or surrendered to the invaders and that surviving communities and peoples have an inalienable right to continuing custodianship over their lands.

They seek formal acknowledgement that surviving communities and peoples have the right to exercise self-determination.

Opinions divided on constitutional recognition

Such a Treaty should be the foundation upon which changes to the Constitution of Australia in respect of Aboriginal peoples should be made.

The referendum on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal Australians, in the absence of such a Treaty, has become a contested issue within the ATSI communities. 

Aboriginal Peak Organisations in the Northern Territory recommend “a vote for changes to the Australian Constitution which eliminate racial discrimination, support agreement-making and recognise and protect the culture, languages and identity of ATSI people”.  Many other ATSI organisations and personages support this position.

Yet a number of other influential ATSI persons and groups reject constitutional recognition as a deception and a diversion.

Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy spokesperson Wayne Wharton believes the referendum is “an empty, tokenistic distraction from the real issue, the real discussion about sovereignty...”

Phil Winzer, a Ngarabul man from northern NSW is also critical of the referendum.  “There is no proposal to change the constitution to recognise that the entire land mass of the continent of Australia was legally and absolutely owned by the original nations that were here, and has never been legally ceded by them, and there is no proposal to recognise that our people had rights attached to that ownership as sovereign nations”.

Aboriginal activist and historian Dr. Gary Foley believes constitutional recognition to be a “stupid and pointless idea” and “an idiotic proposition dreamed up by black middle-class bureaucrats and academics… designed to divert attention from the real issues.”

Treaty should come first

There can be no genuine reconciliation between the ATSI peoples and the rest of the Australian people until a Treaty exists acknowledging ATSI people’s prior ownership of this country.

The Treaty must acknowledge that the essence of the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the colonialist unsettlers was that the invasion of ATSI lands was essentially accomplished by force and violence or the threat of force and violence.

The Treaty must acknowledge ATSI communities’ rights to self-determination on the basis of real and lasting Land Rights.

The current Australian Constitution is a patchwork quilt of the competing requirements of different sections of the British imperialist-dominated ruling class that existed over a century ago.

It is unworkable and must be replaced by an anti-imperialist, democratic and republican Constitution that includes a Bill of Rights defining and enshrining our rights and liberties.

.................
Further reading and footage:
 
Click here for a Youtube video of Yothu Yindi's Treaty.  ATSI readers are warned that it contains footage of Mr Yunupingu.
 
See here for the words of the Yothu Yindi song Treaty.  Mr Yunupingu's given name is mentioned.
 
See text of a draft treaty written but never delivered here.
 




[1] Traditional Aboriginal custom prevents us from using a deceased person’s given name or image.

Prisons - a public responsibility not a private cash cow

Vanguard July 2013 p. 2
Max O.


 
Studies by the Institute of Criminology have revealed a dramatic increase in the number of Aboriginal deaths in custody. This has not reached the highs of the eighties when the main cause of death in custody was self-harm, usually hanging. The recent rise in prison deaths has been due to natural causes or in other words neglect. Given that incarcerations across the board confine primarily the poor and the marginalised we can expect that those entering prison are not brimming with good health. The health problems associated with poverty and marginalisation are well known and unless all persons taken into prisons, particularly Aboriginal prisoners, are assessed on entry and any health problems dealt with and monitored, deaths in custody from ‘natural’ causes will increase, particularly as the level of incarceration rises as it is currently.

 Why are Indigenous Deaths in Custody Rates Rising?

The NSW bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found that the adult imprisonment rate in Australia rose by 37% between 2001 and 2008 (and by 48% in New South Wales). These are amazing jumps which would suggest a dramatic increase in the levels of offending.  But not so. The N.S.W Bureau found no increases in the levels of crime.  The increase according to their research is due to an increase in the number of prison sentences being handed down, longer prison time ordered and less bail offered.  Tougher bail conditions discriminate against Aboriginal and other marginalised groups because they cannot so readily meet bail conditions such as stable accommodation and adequate supervision. 

Whilst the level of incarceration across the board has increased the level of Aboriginal incarceration has doubled over the last two decades.    This flies in the face of the basic tenet of the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Report which advocated alternatives to prison as a way of reducing deaths in custody.

Taking the Children Away

The rate at which Aboriginal juveniles are imprisoned is even more alarming.  In Western Australia Aboriginal youth comprises more than two thirds of minors in custody.  In the Northern Territory 97% of those under eighteen in prison are Aboriginal.  Another report by the N.S.W Institute of Technology reports that Aboriginal youth Australia-wide are thirty-one times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous youth.  With the Northern Territory achieving economies of scale through what has been described as ‘spartan conditions’   imposed on prisoners one wonders just what long term impact this high rate of juvenile removal from family and community and these  ‘spartan’ conditions are having on  the Aboriginal youth  enjoying Her Majesty’s accommodation.

Keeping People out of Prison




Various organizations such as the Red Cross and prisoner support groups argue for lower and lesser prison sentences and suggest options ranging from community involvement in sentencing to court imposed electronic surveillance.  Just the costs of imprisonment would suggest alternatives to imprisonment are the better option with the imprisonment of each individual prisoner costing thirteen to forty times more than non-custodial alternatives.

The Contradictions

Capitalism is, of course, riddled with contradictions.  The contradiction here is between those who argue for alternatives to prison for economic, moral or humane reasons and see prisons and prisoners as a state responsibility, and those who profit from the privatisation of prisons.  

The privatisation of prisons is an increasing trend across the capitalist world.  Currently Australia has twelve privatised prisons   incarcerating approximately 20% of Australia’s prisoners.  Discussions are well underway for more privatisations in Queensland and New South Wales. 

Maximising profiteering from prisons requires that privately run prisons be filled to capacity, thus their existence gives rise to powerful lobby groups agitating for tougher and longer sentencing. These along with political parties popularising ‘get tough on crime’ policies dominate the air space, whilst those advocating public ownership and alternatives to prison have trouble getting their voices heard.

A Government Productivity Commission report found that privatised prisons are no cheaper to run than those managed by the State and at approximately $269 per prisoner per day (or $98,000 per year according to the Productivity Commission figures) the percentage of this money spent in locking up juveniles in particular and minor or moderate offenders would be better spent on preventative measures such as tackling poverty and the increasing inequality in Australia.

Capital roams the world looking for lucrative places to invest.  Taxpayer funded prisons fit the bill.  Capital is aided and abetted by compliant governments all too willing to sell off Australia to the highest bidder.  We need to take responsibility for our own institutions, including prisons to ensure that all essential services serve the Australian people not the profit aims of foreign capital.

Reject class collaboration! No new Accords!

Vanguard July 2013 p. 3
Editorial

Talk about flogging a dead horse!

Former Labor Prime Minister and ACTU President Bob Hawke was reported on June 1 as having called for a revival of the Prices and Income Accord.
He was speaking at a Sydney seminar to mark the Accord’s 30th anniversary.

The Accord was notorious then amongst politically advanced workers for imposing a wage freeze and preventing industrial action.
That is not to make a fetish of industrial action or wages struggles.  In themselves, they do not challenge capitalism or place demands for independence and socialism on the agenda.

But they do reflect the reality that classes exist and that class struggle occurs.
They do reflect the reality that organisation on the job and unity in the workplace is a prerequisite for any advances in the social circumstances of people who are employed by other people.

The Accord that is now a dead horse didn’t even have legs.  It was incapable of advancing the workers in any direction.  It should not be forgotten that one of the leading critics of Gillard’s and Swan’s “class warfare rhetoric” (sic!!!) is Simon Crean, and that Crean was a collaborator with Hawke in the class collaboration that was the Accord.
Current ACTU President Ged Kearney issued a diplomatically worded response which went a little bit too far in its praise of the Accord, presenting the “internationalisation of the Australian economy that took place in the 1980s (as) a lasting product of that partnership”.

This is true, but it was not a good thing.  The wave of financial deregulation, competition policy and privatisation that came with “internationalisation of the Australian economy” has only served to further enmesh us in the web of imperialist control and manipulation.
But Kearney did then go on to say that a new Accord was not part of the agenda.

“Since the Accord, the way unions achieve reform has changed,” she said. “We have mobilised into an independent campaigning force, capable of multiple campaigns at the same time.”
This indicates the direction that we must take. Our own agenda is coming into being and it is being realised by not relying on Labor or parliament or by seeking to build alliances between the trade unions and Capital, but by building alliances between unions and community organisations.

We must ensure that the ACTU leadership contributes to our having an independent capacity to fight regardless of which political party of capitalism holds office for the rich.
When working people develop awareness of their own class interests they can then be helped to understand the irreconcilability of those interests and the class interests of foreign and local monopoly capitalism.

The development of such an understanding will facilitate the speedier acceptance of the crucial need for anti-imperialist independence and socialism.

Corporate tax dodgers are bludging on working people

Vanguard July 2013
Bill F.

 
Workers can’t avoid paying tax; it’s taken out of our pay and we cough up GST almost every time we buy something. But, if it’s a rich and powerful corporation, things are different.

In the June issue of Vanguard an article titled Taxation system works for the rich exposed the extent of tax minimisation by the corporate monopolies, with some paying no tax at all. There was mention of the secretive use of overseas tax havens to dodge the scrutiny of the Australian Taxation Office.

A report has just been released by the Uniting Church which examines the use of these tax havens by subsidiaries of the top 100 companies listed on the stock exchange. The report was written by Mark Zirnsak, the director of the Uniting Church Justice and International Mission Unit.

The report, titled Secrecy Jurisdictions, the ASX100 and Public Transparency, found that more than 60 of the top 100 companies had subsidiaries in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Mauritius, Jersey, the Cook Islands, the Seychelles, and in low-tax jurisdictions such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

Many of these subsidiaries conduct almost no commercial activity, and exist only to avoid or minimise taxes. “These are places that fail to meet international standards on transparency, on anti-money-laundering laws, and on tax law co-operation,’’ said Mr Zirnsak.

News Corporation, Westfield and the Goodman Group were listed as operating more than 50 subsidiaries each in a number of tax-free or low tax countries.

The Commonwealth Bank was also listed. A subsidiary of the bank, Burdekin Investments, operates out of George Town, capital of the Cayman Islands. Its headquarters is Ugland House, home to thousands of so-called ‘post-box companies’ taking advantage of local tax rules.

In its 2012 annual report, Telstra confirms 20 subsidiaries registered in tax havens – 11 in the British Virgin Islands, four in Bermuda, four in Jersey, one in Mauritius and one in the Cayman Islands.

Smokescreen
 
Information on the identity of corporate tax dodgers and the extent of the scams was recently leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. It came from two companies dealing in taxation law - Commonwealth Trust Ltd in the British Virgin Islands and Portcullis TrustNet, based in Asia.

According to the Saturday Age, this information has fingered more than 500 Australians with connections and involvement with tax haven rorts. A special investigating task force, Project Wickenby, has been set up combining the Australian Crime Commission, the Federal Police and the Australian Tax Office.

It is a smokescreen. Its purpose is to round up a few somewhat petty criminals and con artists and give the appearance of cracking down on tax avoidance. It complements the passing of parliamentary legislation to ‘close tax loopholes’ – they’ve been doing that for decades and the rich still get away with it.

You can bet that none of the top 100 companies, the multinationals, the corporate monopolies and big banks, or the media monopolies will be investigated, hauled into court and their bosses carted off to jail. The ‘legal’ tax haven subsidiaries will continue undisturbed and the profits will keep rolling in.

In a stagnating economy, State and federal governments are cutting services and dumping workers. They blame falling tax revenues for the austerity measures being imposed on the people. They dare not try to collect even the legitimate taxes that should be levied on the monopolies, let alone impose a progressive taxation system to spread the burden in a fairer way.

These parasites are bludging on the working people who get less and less for the taxes they have to pay. Workers may not like paying taxes, but they hate bludgers who get away with not paying any.

Public sector fights for jobs

Vanguard July 2013 p. 3
Ned K.

 
Public sector jobs, the last bastion of jobs for life under the remnants of the capitalist ‘welfare state’, are under attack by federal and state governments of both Labor and Liberal persuasion.

As reported in June 2013 edition of Vanguard, the federal budget will result in the loss of 2,400 full time jobs in the Department of Human Services.

The Queensland and NSW state Liberal Governments continue to eliminate public sector jobs.

Even the South Australian Weatherill  Labor Government announced in its State Budget in June 2013 the loss of a further 5,000 public service jobs by 2017. The sting in the tail of this announcement was that as from 1 July 2014, the cap of 116 weeks on a redundancy package would be slashed to a maximum of 52 weeks.

The date of 1 July 2013 for the reduction in the cap to 52 weeks coincides with the end date of the SA Labor Government’s “no forced redundancy policy” for public sector employees. The Government’s Health Department is eager to take advantage of this situation by ploughing ahead with a proposal to privatise all non-clinical jobs in the major hospitals.

Public sector union members are preparing for a big fight for job security as a major issue leading up to the State election in SA in March 2014 and prior to the 1 July deadline next year, irrespective of which party is in parliamentary office at the time.  

Whitlam: The Power and the Passion reviewed

Vanguard July 2013 p. 4
Nick G.


ABC TV’s recent two-part series Whitlam: The Power and the Passion was a welcome reopening of discussion about a major event in Australian political life.
 
However, it missed the opportunity to fundamentally analyse the role of US imperialism in orchestrating what was in reality not a simple “dismissal” but a semi-fascist coup.

Neither did it analyse -  and nor could we expect it to have analysed –the role of social democracy in confining the working class to capitalism.
 
Tentative expressions of independence
 
Coming after a long period of pro-British and pro-US servility by conservative governments, and in the wake of widespread opposition to the US imperialist war of aggression against Vietnam and to conscription, Whitlam appeared almost visionary in his decision to withdraw Australian troops and end conscription, recognise the People’s Republic of China, abolish the death penalty, abolish university fees, establish legal aid and Medibank.   There were tentative expressions of a more independent Australian outlook, including replacing “God Save the Queen” as national anthem and creating a national honours list in the place of the imperial system.
 
As if this were not enough, Whitlam and his Minerals and Energy Minister Rex O’Connor instigated a move to “buy back the farm”, focussing on the largely foreign-owned mining industry.  This not only challenged multinational domination of the Australian economy but induced the government to seek finance from the Middle East rather than from the imperialist centres of finance capital: New York, London and Tokyo.
 
US imperialism took umbrage at this insubordination and in 1973 Nixon appointed career coup-master Marshall Green as Ambassador to Australia.  Green had been in charge of the US Embassy in South Korea at the time of the 1961 coup d'├ętat that brought Major-General Park Chung Hee to power (father of the current South Korean president Park Geun-hye).    He was later appointed US Ambassador to Indonesia in time to oversee the toppling of the anti-imperialist Sukarno government and the murder of half a million communists.
 
Narratives of the Whitlam dismissal do not, as a rule, examine the implications of Whitlam’s irritation of the US overlords, concentrating instead on immediate players in the saga such as Whitlam, Cairns, Fraser and Kerr.
 
The ABC TV series is no exception.  A thorough exposure of the role US imperialism played in the constitutional coup would not suit the ruling class although it is very much sensed and understood by the advanced sections of the working class.
 
Failure to rely on the people
 
The anti-Whitlam coup developed as an Opposition move to block Supply in the Senate.

This was scripted in such a way as to require the Governor-General to withdraw Whitlam’s commission to form government. 
 
Whitlam was ultimately complicit in his own sacking.  US imperialism had sent Marshall Green with a hangman’s rope, but it was Whitlam who placed the noose around his own neck by his appointment of Sir John Kerr as Governor-General.
 
Kerr was an anti-working class arch-reactionary and associated with various US-funded institutions.  He had disgraced himself in 1969 by jailing Victorian Tramways Union secretary and CPA (M-L) vice-chairperson Clarrie O’Shea over his refusal to pay fines imposed on his union. As noted by this paper on March 7, 1974, “Sir John Kerr has a very doubtful record in Australian politics.  His appointment does no credit to those who appointed him”. 
 
Throughout 1973 (Green’s appointment), 1974 (Kerr’s appointment) and 1975 (the lead-up to the Supply crisis), our Party consistently and regularly warned the working class that a coup against Whitlam was being prepared.
 
Kerr performed his role and Whitlam was sacked.
 
Addressing a crowd of supporters outside Parliament, Whitlam urged Australians to “maintain your rage”.  But he qualified that and his full statement was: “Maintain your rage and enthusiasm for the campaign for the election now to be held and until polling day.”
 
Whitlam could have gone back into Parliament House and resumed his seat as Prime Minister of Australia.  This would have been consistent with his view that the Governor-General was bound by custom and practice to act on the advice of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.  He did not believe the Prime Minister and Cabinet were bound to follow the orders of the Governor-General.  Yet that was what he did.
 
For all of his flirtation with the traditions of the labour movement (calling associates “comrade”, for example), Whitlam was, as he proudly proclaimed on more than one occasion, “a bourgeois”.
 
Both as a bourgeois and as a Labor reformist, the idea of encouraging a confrontation between the people and the capitalist state machinery in the streets of the nation was anathema to him.
 
By refusing to stand up to Kerr by continuing to function as the elected Prime Minister, Whitlam gave no focus or purpose to the maintenance of rage other than to wait for the casting of ballots.
 
Treachery to the interests of the people

(above: November 12 1975 and Bob Hawke asks for a day's pay in lieu of mass struggle against US imperialism.)

This was simple treachery to the interests of the people.  And it was matched the following day when the “gruff, abrasive cream-puff” of an ACTU President, Bob Hawke, rejected union calls for a nation-wide strike and urged workers instead to donate a day’s pay to an ALP re-election campaign.
 
The great struggles and national strikes that took place over six days following O’Shea’s jailing forced the ruling class to back down and manufacture an opportunity to have him released.
 
Hawke could have drawn on that legacy and brought the undeniable strength of collective working class action to force a second retreat by the reactionaries.  But his tradition was that of the Victorian and NSW Trades Hall misleaderships who had refused to back the O’Shea general strikes.
 
Fraser now had the incumbency, the time and the complicity of the vanquished to ensure his electoral victory over Whitlam.
 
The troops that had been put on stand-by to threaten blood should stain the wattle were not needed.
 
And we continue to this day to be bound hand and foot to US imperialism having had the one chance to really mount a mass challenge to that rule snatched from us by system loyalists in the leadership of the ALP.

More bad news for the food processing industry

Vanguard July 2013 p. 4
Duncan B.



US based vegetable processor Simplot has announced that it may close vegetable processing plants in Bathurst (NSW) and Devonport (Tas).

The Devonport plant employs 160 workers. The Bathurst plant is Australia’s biggest corn-processing plant.

The company blames cheap imported frozen vegetables for its problems. Tasmanian vegetable growers who supply about 60,000 tonnes of vegetables each year to Simplot are concerned by the announcement.

GMH in attack on wages

Vanguard July 2013 p. 5
Nick G.


US multinational General Motors Holden is demanding its production line workers at the Elizabeth plant in South Australia take a pay cut of up to $200 per week.

This tax-payer subsidised dinosaur has blackmailed successive state and federal governments to get one financial rescue package after another with the threat of closing its Australian operations.


It has also attacked its workforce on previous occasions, cutting out shifts and reducing workers to a four day week.

It treats its workers as one more just-in-time production component, laying off and hiring workers according to the anarchic whims of the market.  It is currently finalising 400 job cuts at Elizabeth and 100 at its Port Melbourne engineering plant.

Now it wants a direct wage cut.

It is simply outrageous that one of the biggest corporations in the world can make demands of this nature.

It is clearly past its use-by-date as a global entity as its US government rescue packages and its closure of plants such as the GM Opel plant in Bochum, Germany with 3000 job losses, announced in April, show.

It is in crisis, a crisis of overproduction and a crisis of capital investment and production costs.

The only answer to the problems besetting the manufacture of vehicles in Australia is to nationalise without compensation the entire industry and rationalise and plan its production to the needs of the market.

What do urban Australians need in the way of a small, green energy car?  Build it to meet that need.

What do Australian primary producers and urban tradespeople need in the way of a utility vehicle? Build it to meet that need.

What vehicles are required for better public transport?  Design and build.

What can be done with these big manufacturing facilities in the way of research and development for advanced manufacturing capacity?  Provide the funds and unleash the creativity of the workers both manual and intellectual.

What can be done for the workforce?  Give them the responsibility to control the process and intensity of production, and to determine the social purposes to which their surplus value (profit) is put instead of seeing it disappear overseas to the multinational bosses.

To implement such common sense measures requires anti-imperialist independence and socialism.
 
A capitalist society that allows giant multinational corporations to bully and intimidate their way through the inevitable crises of a market economy is unsustainable.

We fight for a better future.
..............
Update: Big auto companies demanding taxpayer subsidies and sacrifices  from their workforce is a global phenomenon.
Read this report from Canada on Ford Motor's Extortion Results in Big Payoff.  You will need to scroll down to the third article.



Migrant workers left high and dry when companies go under

Vanguard July 2013 p. 5
Ned K.

 
At the same time as Ford announced closure of its production plants in Victoria and the direct loss of 1200 jobs, a major contractor in the property services industry, Swan Services, went belly up.

2,500 workers, mainly contract cleaners were affected. Most picked up work with the contractors that the property owners have used to replace Swan to provide the same services. However, these workers have to start all over again regarding accrual of annual leave and sick leave.

Even that presumes the new contractor offers them permanent jobs rather than casual work. With their previous employer going broke, they are left being owed unpaid wages, leave entitlements and redundancy pay.

It was actually the Howard Government that brought in a government scheme to pay minimum entitlements to workers in this situation. Labor continued and improved this scheme somewhat and now call it the Fair Entitlement Guarantee (FEG).

Once a company is put in to liquidation workers can claim award severance pay, annual and long service leave entitlements and any unpaid wages in the last 3 months of employment with the employer that went broke.

The hidden catch
Problem is, this FEG scheme only applies to Australian citizens and permanent residents.

The majority of workers in property services jobs like cleaning and security in the cities employed by companies like Swan Services are either migrant workers hanging on for  permanent residency qualification or overseas students.

Most of these workers are from non-English speaking background countries. So there is an element of racism as well in the FEG scheme coverage. These workers pay taxes, but cannot access a safety net scheme funded by taxation revenue.

The parliament knows about this situation, but nothing has been done to change it. The rich property owners are partly responsible for Swan’s demise because they award contracts to the cheapest bidder who is then unable to pay for the service those same property owners require.

It is downhill for the workers from then on. The migrant workers and overseas students can see this and are demanding that the property owners and the government sort it out so that their lost wages and entitlements are paid.

With an increasing trend to contracting out of services by governments and big business in many industries, the likelihood of contractor companies going broke will increase in the race to the bottom to win contracts. This trend is already seeing some of the most vulnerable migrant sections of the working class being drawn in to  struggle in what they hoped to be the ‘lucky country’.

Geelong reeling from job cuts

Vanguard July 2013 p. 5
Duncan B.



Workers in Victoria’s second-largest city, Geelong, have been copping a beating lately.
 
First it was the announcement in April that Shell was looking to sell its refinery there, with a possible loss of 450 jobs.
 
Next came the announcement in May that Ford is to cease vehicle manufacturing in Australia in 2016. This will result in the loss of 510 jobs in Geelong.
 
June brought more bad news for workers in Geelong. Carpet manufacturer Godfrey Hirst announced that it  is to cut out the night shift at its Riverside Textiles plant with the loss of 15 jobs.
 
Employees at the Geelong head office of retailer Target were next in the gun. The company announced that 260 jobs are to go, most of them in Geelong.
 
These job cuts follow on from last year’s cuts at the Gordon TAFE College (89), Qantas (260) and Alcoa (60).


Traditionally, Geelong was a major industrial city, with much heavy industry such as car and tractor manufacturing, abattoirs and woollen mills. In fact Geelong was once known as the “Bradford of the South” because of its many textile mills.
 
These industries provided employment for many thousands of workers. Later Shell and Alcoa set up in Geelong, employing many hundreds more.
 
The latest job losses show the dangers of relying on foreign-owned companies to look after the interests of workers. The multinationals will only invest where it is profitable and will close operations in an area if it becomes less profitable, moving operations to countries where there is greater exploitation of workers and profits are higher.
 
The Vanguard editorial in the June issue was correct when it called for the nationalisation of imperialist-owned industries such as Ford. Shell and Alcoa should also be candidates for nationalisation.