At the same time as they’re sharpening their knives for the next round of anti-worker legislation and union-bashing, the ruling class in Australia pushes the myth that class struggle is old-hat and outdated.
What they really mean is our class struggle, not theirs. In fact, they only call it ‘class struggle’ when workers fight back.
This ruling class represents the interests of the biggest multinationals and corporate monopolies, together with their local agents and apologists in the mass media and parliamentary parties. They serve the globalisation agenda of modern imperialism in its crisis of overproduction and surplus capital seeking to intensify exploitation and capture new markets.
Since the election of the Abbott government an intense ideological and political attack has been launched that goes far beyond the organised section of the working class in trade unions.
Certainly, unions are a prime target, as the ruling class well knows that militant struggle by informed and mobilised workers gives confidence to the whole class and carries a greater promise of success than trade-off deals and drawn out legal proceedings.
Hence there is the wide-ranging Royal Commission into trade unions, headed by the arch-reactionary former High Court Judge Dyson Heydon, ostensibly to examine governance and corruption issues in the union movement, but in reality a kangaroo court to justify smashing the most organised unions and intimidating the rest.
Leading up to the announcement of the Royal Commission and continuing every week since, there has been a concerted media campaign by the Murdoch and Fairfax monopolies against the level of wages, penalty rates and working conditions of ordinary workers in a number of industries.
A pincer attack
No attack on the working class is ever complete without the back-stabbing and the back-peddling of what used to be called ‘social democrats’. (The socialist bit was dumped decades ago; the democratic bit goes into hiding during pre-selection time)
The back-stabbing of the working class was delivered by Paul Howes, national secretary of the Australian
Union (AWU) when he grovelled before the National Press Club. Puffed up with
more self-importance than a cane toad, Howes endorsed the anti-union beat-up and
even said that some sections of the working class were overpaid! No such issues
with workers in his union!
He went on to advocate another sell-out “accord”, this time between the union movement and the anti-worker Abbott government. Mussolini, you’ve got to admire this bloke’s style!
The back-peddling was delivered by the former AWU national secretary, now leader of the parliamentary Labor Opposition, Bill Shorten. Shorten also endorsed the ruling class allegations of widespread corruption in the trade union movement and called for the police to use existing laws to deal with it rather than Abbott’s Royal Commission. He never got beyond the smokescreen to expose the real attack designed to crush the struggles of the whole working class.
As he prepares his austerity budget, Treasurer Joe Hockey has pronounced that “the age of entitlement is over.” What he means is our entitlements, not those of the ruling class for whom he speaks.
Nevertheless, workers have expectations, hopes and deep-seated feelings that they are entitled to a decent life.
These aspirations need to be expressed in the workplace and community struggles which will inevitably break out as the anti-worker onslaught is rolled out. They need to be taken up and hammered by the trade union movement if it to become more than just an appendage of the Labor Party.
- Safe, secure, sustainable jobs
- Affordable, decent housing
- Cheap and accessible public healthcare services
- High quality public education
- Safe, reliable and efficient public transport