Tuesday, October 21, 2014

BHP: No justice for workers through the courts, no protection under Fair Work Act

Ned K.

On October 16 2014 the Daily Mercury and Australian Financial Review reported that the High Court upheld a Federal Court Decision that a CFMEU shop steward’s dismissal by BHP-Mitsubishi Coal was fair and legal. The miners’ shop steward, Henk Doevendans was sacked for ‘misconduct’ by BHP weeks after a strike by miners the Dystart coal mine.

The ‘misconduct’ alleged by BHP and upheld by the ‘independent’ High Court was that he stood on a picket line holding a sign which said “No Principles – Scabs – No Guts”.

The sacking took place several weeks after the dispute with the company had finished. It was a calculated move by BHP to attack the miners’ organisation on the ground by chopping off their workplace leader.

The mine manager, Mr Brick, said that the word ‘scab’ was ‘unacceptable in the workplace’, yet CFMEU members have to put up with daily, hourly verbal tirades against them by employers,  the media and parliament  under the guise of ‘fighting corruption’.

What happened to Henk Doevendans is a good lesson for workers everywhere in this country. When workers unite and get organised, the employers, especially the biggest like BHP, will try all and any means to break up workers’ collective power.

Sacking workers’ leaders has always been a tactic in their bag of tricks. That’s why for every worker who is the declared shop steward or delegate under capitalism’s industrial laws, there needs to be a network of leaders surrounding them, some visible to the boss and some not. These networks need to extend across industries and have links with communities.

This is the seed of organisation and people’s power that the likes of BHP are haunted by every day, the seeds of a new society where the mines and other industries are owned and controlled by the people themselves.

BHP got rid of one ‘nightmare’ in their eyes, but there are thousands more ‘nightmares’ awaiting them.
See also "Some awful substance..."

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