Friday, September 30, 2022

Thanks for nothing Charlie Windsor


Written by: Louisa L. on 1 October 2022

Last week a neighbour – outraged at the vast numbers sucked in by the queen’s death – asked, ‘Why are people so stupid?’ 

A descendent of African slaves, my friend has good reason for anger. His father volunteered to teach in Diego Garcia, and knew most of the refugees created when the now dead QE2 signed the 1965 order to forcibly remove them from their home. The island was gifted to the US as a military base.

They faced horrific conditions. In 2000, Labour PM Tony Blair invoked the Royal Prerogative to bypass Parliament and the courts, continuing the theft. 

The ruling class gloats over people’s despair. Beyond the endless media drivel, lies a decades-long ruling class propaganda war to disempower us and silence dissent.

The UK’s everyday people face economic crisis. Instead of relatively secure jobs and the ability to pay bills, cold and even hunger loom for millions. No wonder they want stability, want what they used to have. That celebs like David Beckham had the humility to line up like everyone else harks back to the Covid jingle, ‘We’re all in this together’. Of course, we weren’t then and we aren’t now. 

Big rockets, small men

Who’d want to be king or queen? Obscenely rich, with numerous castles, palaces, gardens, estates, truckloads of share portfolios, but who’d want the job? Mind numbing tedium, smiling and waving, opening events, speechmaking, and an intrusive monopoly media that tapped Charles, Camilla and Diana’s conversations, but failed for decades to expose Prince Andrew’s crimes. 

Other super rich can decide whether they want publicity, shooting themselves into space like Branson and Musk. Female CEOs now often front the cameras, with trickle down feminism offering nothing to women demanding liberation. But billionaire board rooms overwhelmingly hold anonymous men, who live without the dead weight of fame. 

Never being able to retire? In your 90s still going, holding a crumbling facade together. The dedication appeals to people.

They think of themselves in the parasite queen’s shoes, selling their labour power for profit till death. It’s not the same, not even remotely. But it’s the source propaganda taps into. 

To the hungry and poor, though, it would look like a good gig.

Poor old Charlie!

KC3 doesn’t want to work. At 73, no wonder he hoped the Commonwealth might dissolve. 

Individually he’s still blamed for not being able to marry the woman he loved, agreeing to have her on the side and choosing an innocent teenage virgin as trophy wife. It’s a collective guilt. The whole Firm, with dead queen top, was in on it. 

Why not start there? Young people here are generally apathetic about the monarchy, but quite like the queen. They don’t like Charles. While it individualises the problem, hides its class nature, why not use the ruling class’s own weapons against it?

Oily rags 

Then, contrast the Daily Mail’s exorbitantly inflated billions turning out for the queen, with the massive and magnificent mobilisation against the war in Iraq in 2003. 

Over a million on Australian streets. Walk Against the War mobilised them on the smell of an oily rag.The Daily Telecrap jumped on board a few days before, to avoid total isolation. 

This people power was seemingly snuffed out by PM Howard’s declaration of war. We didn’t mobilise workers as a class to shut the country down. We were unprepared to follow up once war was declared. 

For most who protested, the take home message became, ‘If you fight, you lose.’

Coffin loose in countryside

Defeats teach us deep lessons, inspire us to find the way forward. In 2003, Muslim people knew a staggering 94 percent Australians supported them. They knew who stood against us. It’s time to reclaim this struggle.

In contrast, how many billions did they spend on the QE2 and KC3 Show and that coffin trundling round the countryside? Yes, it pulled in the people, but if that’s not comedy, what is?

Thanks to the individual bravery of Gunditjmara Gunnai Senator Lidia Thorpe standing in the strength of her grassroots, most Australians discovered before QE2 died that politicians swear allegiance not to us, the people of these lands, but to the British sovereign. 

Lidia Thorpe reminded us of resistance to invasion and ongoing colonialism. Those are deep, rich lands to mine for grassroots’ strength. 

But Charlie Windsor? We don’t want you or your thieving class. It’s time to hop on your polo pony and bugger off.

  

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Beetaloo becomes battleground against US capital

(The First Peoples are fierce defenders of Country      Source: First Nations Justice Team)

 Written by: Nick G. on 28 September 2022

 Last week’s decision by Santos Energy to divest itself of its Beetaloo Basin development in the Northern Territory is a huge win for pastoralists, environmentalists and particularly for the traditional owners.

It follows a decision by the federal court at about the same time, suspending its operations in the seas to the north of the Tiwi Islands following its failure to take into account the objections of the Munapi clan traditional owners.

Both decisions are testimony to the fierce determination of First Peoples to protect Country from those who would wage a war of destruction on it in the pursuit of their holy god of corporate profit.

Tamboran takes over from Santos

However, the Beetaloo Basin battle is not yet over, but has entered a new stage, with Santos’s fracking license having been sold to Tamboran Resources, a company headquartered in Sydney, but controlled by US capital.

Tamboran has operated fracking projects extensively in the US. 

Its Chairman of the Board of Directors is an American, Dick Stoneburner, who is currently a director of a number of oil and gas exploration and production companies, including having been President of BHP’s US fracking operations.

CEO Joel Riddle has worked extensively for US fossil fuel corporations and was Principal at Murphy Oil Corp., Principal at Exxon Mobil Corp., Principal at Unocal Corp. and Principal at Cobalt International Energy LP.

Riddle said that most of the $195 million raised in “a couple of days” for the purchase of the Santos licenses had come from the US. He said that included Parsley Energy billionaire Bryan Sheffield and the "largest rig company out of the US", Helmerich and Payne, which would be providing "the first of five modern US rigs into the Beetaloo starting next year".

US shareholders control Tamboran

This reflects the profile of its top 20 shareholders as listed in the company’s 2021 Annual Report. 

The three major shareholders are all American. 

The largest shareholder is Longview Petroleum LLC (Limited Liability Company) which owns 21.86% of Tamboran. Longview is registered in Delaware, a US state that is notorious for providing secrecy about the corporations registered there. However, it appears that Longview is a shell company for Sweetpea Petroleum Limited, which was owned by a US investment firm controlled by US citizens. 

In December 2020 Tamboran bought out Sweetpea petroleum which became its wholly-owned subsidiary. In March 2022, the former Minister for Resources and Water, Keith Pitt, granted Sweetpea $7.5 million oftaxpayers’ money to support the drilling of one of its Beetaloo Wells.

The second largest shareholder, with 18.69%, is BP-PE3 LLC, another US company with its corporate details hidden through registration in Delaware.

The third-largest is Lion Point Capital, based out of New York. Lion Point Capital is a hedge fund with 5 clients and discretionary assets under management (AUM) of US$905,084,463, and total assets of US$1.5 billion.  It is, not surprisingly, registered as a business in the notorious tax haven, the Cayman Islands.

Together, these three companies own 50.47% of the shares in Tamboran. 

Of the remaining 17 major investors, eleven are nominee or holding companies representing institutional investors whose identity is difficult to ascertain. Much of their capital, however, would also be US-based.

Social license and corporate citizenship

Santos cited commercial difficulties as its reason for selling its fracking licenses to Tamboran. It would also have been worried at its fast-disappearing social license, that is, its acceptance by the Australian people of its right to pursue its objectives. Its name was fast becoming mud, with numerous protests targeted at its offices in major cities.

Although headquartered in Sydney, Tamboran is US-owned and controlled, and less susceptible to the problems of social licensing.

This was shown when it refused to attend hearings of a Senate committee investigating subsidies paid to gas explorers by the Morrison government. On six occasions, Tamboran refused to appear before the committee, initially after having been invited to attend, and then after being summonsed to attend.

The committee was incensed that Tamboran’s subsidiary, Sweetpea, would walk away with a gift of $7.5 million, yet the parent company would be prepared to face fines rather than be held accountable for its use of taxpayer grants. 

The committee described it as an apparent “contempt of the senate”.

US out! Always was, always will be aboriginal land

The Beetaloo Basin must be protected. The land – its topography and its biodiversity – and the water – surface water and underground streams – form a unity that are central to traditional owners’ concerns for Country.

Samuel Sandy is a Jingili man from Elliot and believes any impact to the water would cause damage to sacred songlines.

“Water is like a bloodline,” he said.

“It’s all connected, it’s connected to the heart. Once that water gets poisoned, where are people going to live?

“We only have one earth and all walks of life need suitable drinking water. I’m really worried about this company now overruling everything, the Traditional Owners, the decisions they make.”

A new stage in the struggle has been reached, and the level of struggle must be lifted.

Tamboran must be driven from our shores.

US capital must not wreck Country!

Fight for the rights of traditional owners and the broader community!

Monday, September 26, 2022

What is “normal”? Star Casinos and Morrison make interesting examples

 

(Above; Star Entertainment casinos criticised in Bell Inquiry.      Source: AMLintelligence.com)


Written by: (Contributed) on 27 September 2022

Those following recent disclosures about Star Entertainment may have noticed the extremely limited nature of the coverage of what has been shown to be a major matter of concern, not a minor slip, but a calculated plan to reduce political fallout affecting the wider corporate sector and business-classes.

And for good reason.

Those identified at Star Entertainment were conducting normal business practices in the eyes of their peers and contemporaries, including those in the political arena.

The Bell inquiry into the Star Entertainment business organisation issued a damning 946-page report about their 'inherently deceptive and unethical process disguising more than $900 million as hotel expenses … and knew for years it was in breach of the rules'. (1) Elsewhere in the report it was noted the directors of the gaming giant 'were well qualified, well intentioned and highly experienced … the paradox is that people of this calibre presided over a dysfunctional culture'. (2)

While the matter has now been referred to regulators to decide whether those in control of Star Entertainment should be allowed to continue, other related matters were not openly publicised.

Star Entertainment employed about 8,000 staff, who were subject to usual Occupational Health and Safety legislation. Nevertheless, it allowed gamblers to operate for more than 24 hours without intervening. Those gambling, however, must have been displaying behavioural problems identifiable from those receiving basic OHS training as a legal requirement. (3) Why were there no publicised complaints? Were there any OHS delegates?

Those employed by the organisation provided 'false documentation to disguise deposits by patrons … they obscured the source of funds … this practice revealed a complete disregard of anti-money-laundering obligations'. (4) Once again, why were there no publicised complaints? Star Entertainment must have employed security personnel.
While the senior management have denied knowledge of the behaviour, OHS and corporate legislation require 'responsible officers' to conduct business; ignorance, is not an excuse.

The revelations about the Star Entertainment organisation were carefully worded so as to not place the matters arising into a wider context: the manner in which Australian business culture has become increasingly toxic. 

Decades of political leadership whereby de-regulation, privatisation and liberalisation has become the order of the day has raised serious considerations; the drive for maximisation of profit has become an end in itself, without any consideration of side-effects and social and ethical considerations. It was noted, for example, immediately after the publication of the Bell report that Star shares rose by more than 4.5 per cent, up 12 cents to $2.78, clearly showing shareholders did not regard the findings as a problem worth any serious or moral consideration. (5)

Studies of present-day Australian business culture elsewhere have found the problem of wage-theft reaching gargantuan proportions: an estimated 13 per cent of the national workforce are systematically under-paid; in retail it rises to 21 per cent; and 82 per cent of hospitality workers maintain they have been underpaid during their careers. (6) The industries noted as particularly susceptible included hospitality, construction and healthcare, where casualisation has become commonplace. Casual workers, it was noted, were 'treated as disposable and easily replaced' (7) They are, invariably, reluctant to complain in fear of having their employment terminated, even in the case of breaches of the Safework Acts.

The real problem underlying the matter has been the drive, by employers, to systematically undermine trade-union workplace organisation to enable them to instil a 'master and servant' alternative to usual industrial relations practices. It has included the establishment of unattainable production targets, and quotas have been designed to place whole workforces under pressure and enabled employers to not recognise skills and experience of workforces to establish correct classification for higher pay-grades, to not pay allowances and meal-breaks and enforce overtime working in breach of the Fair Work Act.

Meanwhile, findings about the behaviour of a political master of the economic rationalist practices have established highly questionable parliamentary codes of conduct; former prime minister Scott Morrison has been accused of undermining federal government in Canberra by establishing a 'secretive cabinet committee of which he was both chair and sole member'. (8) Using the head of the country's intelligence services, Andrew Shearer, to formulate agendas, the shadowy committee then met 739 times, although 665 sets of minutes remain unaccounted for. (9) One can but speculate why nearly ninety per cent of the cabinet papers for Morrison’s secret committee are not traceable. Usual declassification procedures, after thirty years, allow governments to be seen as transparent and accountable.

The whole matter has yet to be fully investigated although it is beginning to look more like a parliamentary intelligence coup rather than usual democratic and government processes.

These developments reflect badly upon Australia and reveal serious short-comings amongst those expected to set an example. The business and political sectors do not exist in a vacuum. Perhaps, therefore, those concerned were displaying normal business and political practices, but only amongst their peers and contemporaries; the rest of us are not regarded as worthy of any consideration whatsoever.


1.     'Deceptive' Star to battle casino ban, Australian, 14 September 2022.
2.     Star board 'didn't have a clue' on casino, Australian, 14 September 2022.
3.     See: Casino bosses turned blind eye to misery, Australian, 14 September 2022.
4.     'Deceptive Star, op.cit., Australian, 14 September 2022.
5.     Ibid.
6.     Victoria's wage theft laws, The Age (Melbourne), 5 July 2021.
7.     Ibid.
8.     Spies, lies and secrets, The New Daily, 21 September 2022.
9.     Ibid.

 

Workers Beware

 


(Above: Strikes everywhere: In July, NSW teachers joined the first combined state and independent school mass walkouts in nearly 20 years.)

Written by: Jed J. on 27 September 2022

Invited to sit around a table like one big happy family about to enjoy a meal, and hosted by the new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, were representatives of many Australian interest groups including businesses and workers.

Called the “Jobs and Skills” summit the meeting was based on the premise that all these groups, especially those representing employers and employees, have common interests and by working together they could help build “a stronger economy and a stronger Australia”.

Businesses and their employees do have common interests, up to a point. Workers need jobs so they can earn a living and bosses need the labour power of workers to make profits.

However, when we look at how the wealth produced by this arrangement is distributed the idea of one big happy family ends. 

In reality, the interests of workers and bosses are diametrically opposed. Workers require increases in wages so that they can cope with the surge in the cost of living. 

They also need to have a say in the conditions under which they work and be free to struggle for better pay and conditions.

On the other hand, owners of businesses want to pay as little as possible and impose working conditions that lead to increased productivity in order to maximise profits.

Experience of what happened to wages, conditions and workers’ rights to struggle under the Accord should serve as a warning. 

Having a seat at the table is no guarantee that workers will be better off. In fact, they could be much worse off. 

One result of the Accord was that workers had to pay for their own wage increases through being more productive while the proceeds of the increase in productivity were gobbled up in the form of increased profits.
 
Unlike most meals, this get together has seen the sweets served up before the main course. Measures that may prove popular with sections of the population have been offered up as sweeteners. 

The main concern addressed so far is that enterprises have all the workers they are crying out for, both skilled and unskilled. 

The talks about what wages and conditions this enlarged workforce will work under have been put in the too hard basket. We will have to wait for these crucial talks to take place, and it’s not hard to see why. 

They would show up the fundamental differences between employer and employee when it comes to divvying up the wealth created in the workplace.

The new Labor Government has already indicated where they stand when it comes to workers’ wages and conditions. 

They have pledged to go ahead with the previous government’s tax cuts for the rich. 

That money would be better spent on alleviating conditions and paying wage increases to those working in essentials services like public schools and public hospitals. 

It’s as if the overcrowded classrooms and hospitals, extreme staff shortages and staff burnout are not as important to the government as tax cuts for the rich.

This does not auger well for the future talks to be held over the next 12 months and which are designed to (in the government’s own words) help shape the future of Australia’s labour market.

If the interests of workers are to prevail, they will have to learn the lessons of history and not put their faith in a parliamentary system which so clearly favours their adversaries.

 

Australia’s Head of State, the British Monarchy, Is Part Of British Capitalism

(Above: King Charles III, Australia's Head of State.      Source: Roy Morgan)

 Written by: Ned K. on 26 September, 2022

The death of Queen Elizabeth and resulting endless media coverage and ceremonies was played for all its worth by the ruling class to maintain the monarchy both in the UK and Australia. Throughout the period of official mourning of the Queen's death, the members of the Royal Family were portrayed as models of middle-class values and the best of a blissful British aristocratic tradition. 

Prime Minister Albanese seemingly threw himself in to this fantasy in a way that at times resembled former Prime Minister "Pig Iron Bob" Menzies’s antics at the mere mention of the British monarch and Queen Elizabeth in particular!
 
First Nations people in Australia were disgusted with all this and rightly so, and on Public Holiday Thursday 22 September they organized demonstrations against this whole fantasy of the British monarchy as some people-loving institution. They exposed the monarchy as the invaders of their lands and slaughtering of their peoples.
 
Many non-Indigenous Australians were also angry at the subservience of the Albanese Government to the British monarchy, especially the granting of the Public Holiday for mourning of a feudal monarch.
 
However, another important aspect of the monarchy hidden by the media portrayal has been well argued by Laura Clancy in her book, "Running the Family Firm" and in her media release in "Novara Media” on 9 September 2022.
 
Clancy reveals that, "Rather than an aristocratic relic of a pre-bourgeois era, the British monarchy has worked its traditional privileges into the heart of British capitalism".
 
She provides numerous examples of how the monarchy is part of the heart of British capitalism including:
 
The Duchy of Lancaster - British sovereign's private estate has investments in two off-shore financial centres, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda
The Crown is a common law corporation but is exempt from most taxation
The "sovereign grant" from the UK government (the public purse) funds the monarchy's activities and is exempt from taxation
The monarchy does not pay inheritance tax
The Crown Estate, a land and property portfolio made a net profit of 269.3 million British Pounds in 2021 as an "independent commercial business"
Much of the monarch's land ownership in the UK and abroad goes back to its feudal origins. However, in the current stage of imperialism the monarchy has diversified its portfolios. For example, it owns property in Regent Street in the centre of London, Eltham, Egham and Hampton, 14 retail parks and most of the UK's wind, wave and tidal power sites, as well as 336,000 acres of agricultural land and forestry in the UK.
Through the "Prince's Trust Regional Awards" the monarchy has direct links with sponsors who represent the core of capitalism. These include HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Natwest, Dell, Delta Airlines, Tesco, G4S and BAE Systems.
 
The above examples are only the tip of the iceberg regarding the interconnection between the monarchy and British capitalism in its declining imperialist stage. As it did in the 18th Century through entities such as the East India Company, the monarchy has extensive financial and industrial interests in overseas countries, including those countries like Australia that have the British monarch as Head of State.
 
For the peoples of Australia, led by First Nations people, cutting ties completely with the British monarchy is long, long overdue. The ruling class in Australia is dominated by multinational corporations, financial institutions and media giants from the USA in particular. Some will be comfortable with an Australian government cutting all ties with the British monarchy while others will want to maintain the monarchy, seeing it as a useful political arm of imperialist rule in Australia.

After all, US imperialism is based in the USA, a country which cut constitutional ties with the British monarchy in the American War of Independence in 1776! Since that day it grew and expanded to be the number one imperialist power in the world, all in the name of a republic, not a monarchy.

In Australia, the day of the people having an Australian Head of State and cutting ties with the British monarchy is not too far away. The sentiment of the majority of the people will eventually be for a People's Republic of Australia, where the interests of the First Nations people and working people come first, rather than a republic USA style, where the interests of the First Nations and the working people of all colours came a very distant second.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

My name is Mahsa Amini!


(Above: Australian Iranians rally in Perth.     Source: ABC)

Written by: Nick G. on 25 September 2022

Thousands of Australian Iranians have taken to the streets in the week since the death of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, also known as Zhina.

The 22-year-old had spent three days in a coma after her arrest by the religious morality police, the Irshad, and died in custody after being beaten by a baton.

Visiting Teheran from one of Iran’s Kurdish regions, Amini had been arrested for wearing “unsuitable attire” after judging that her hijab was too loose.

All major Iranian cities have erupted in protests and at least 41 people are known to have been shot and killed by police in protest crackdowns. Iranians of all ethnicities and religious beliefs have united to fight the repressive regime. 

In Australia, protests began last week when hundreds of Australian Iranians and their supporters rallied outside the city’s largest library. As is the case in Iran, many men have come out in support of the freedom of women. A second Melbourne rally occurred this weekend at which a woman cut off her hair to chants from the crowd of “Freedom”!

Sydney has also seen rallies, Brisbane had one yesterday in King George Square, Canberra has had a rally, and Perth and Adelaide had rallies today attended by hundreds. 

Perth rally organiser Mehdi Ghatei said he had never seen such a large gathering of Iranians in Perth.

He said he organised the rally to help give a voice to the people in Iran, who are cut off from the world by their government.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Book Review: TITLE FIGHT

 


Written by: Duncan B. on 22 September 2022

Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest is well-known to Australians as a self-made mining billionaire, philanthropist, environmentalist and friend of Indigenous people, or so his PR machine works overtime to convince us. The Yindjibarndi people of Western Australia’s Pilbara region have seen a different side of Forrest and his company Fortescue Metals Group. (FMG)

Andrew Forrest is Australia’s richest man with a personal fortune estimated at around $30 billion. (He is the second richest person in Australia after Gina Rinehart on $34 billion.)  Forrest has a 36% share in FMG which gives him a handy slice of the company’s $8-10 billion annual profit.  FMG is the fourth-largest iron ore producer in the world with assets of around $50 billion and holdings of over 87,000 sq. km in the Pilbara region. Some of the iron ore mines that have generated Forrest’s billions are on the land of the Yindjibarndi people.

TITLE FIGHT How The Yindjibarndi Battled and Defeated A Mining Giant by Paul Cleary tells the story of how the Yindjibarndi fought and won a thirteen-year battle against Andrew Forrest, FMG and their billions of dollars. 

In 2013, FMG started mining on Yindjibarndi land. FMG had state and federal government approval, but did not have the approval of the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) which is the legal custodian of the rights and interests of the Yindjibarndi people of the area.

From 2008, FMG has tried to get unlimited access to Yindjibarndi land while offering minimal compensation. The Yindjibarndi resisted FMG’s attempts to take over their land and sought to gain title rights allowing them exclusive possession of their land. 

FMG used dirty tactics to oppose the Yindjibarndi. They tried to dispute the Yindjibarndi’s connection to their land and downplay the significance of the findings of archaeological surveys of sites on Yindjibarndi land. FMG sacked consultants who produced a report detailing a large number of sites which would have hindered FMG’s aims. FMG commissioned another report from another, more obedient, firm of consultants who produced a report more to FMG’s liking.

FMG subjected the YAC to multiple legal actions in a number of different courts, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on high-powered lawyers against the poorly-resourced YAC.

FMG encouraged a breakaway group of Yindjibarndi people who were sympathetic to FMG. They were showered with millions of dollars in payments and backed and were financed in numerous court challenges to the YAC, in the hope of being declared the legal representatives of the Yindjibarndi. Unfortunately, playing off one group of Indigenous people against another is a tactic that is being used to advantage by other mining companies. 

The Yindjibarndi, led by Michael Woodley never gave up the struggle, until in 2017 the Federal Court of Australia granted them the right of exclusive possession over their land. It was not until 2020 that the High Court threw out FMG’s attempt to have the Federal Court’s decision overturned.

In another example of a victory by Indigenous people over a mining company, the Federal Court has just ordered Santos to stop drilling at its $6.3 billion gas project in the ocean about 120 km north of the Tiwi Islands, which lie 80 km north of Darwin. 

The Court found that the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) had approved Santos’ environmental plan without checking whether the company had carried out adequate consultation with all relevant parties, as required by law. The Tiwi Islanders claim that they were not properly consulted before NOPSEMA approved the plan.

Is not uncommon for the various regulatory bodies involved in dealing with the mining industry to look after the interests of mining companies rather than protecting the interests of Indigenous people and the environment.

Australia’s Indigenous people are showing us that victory is possible in struggle against multinational companies, using a variety of tactics, not just relying on the courts. TITLE FIGHT  is a must-read for everybody involved in the struggle for Australian Independence.

 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

One Team?

 


Written by: B.Bill on 15 September 2022

One team. One Metro. As far as Metro Trains internal corporate ‘ethos’ goes, it’s about as bland and as uninspiring as it goes, and as when most of these things come to the crunch, it’s bullshit.

Metro management has sent out an email to all staff asking them to volunteer, yes you read that correctly, volunteer their time to act in a customer service role during the Spring Racing Carnival.

The Spring Racing Carnival and the Royal Melbourne Show are two of the busiest times of the year on Metro’s network and extra staff are always needed to support local staff. The way that this has been managed since even before privatisation is that all extra shifts possible are allocated to local part timers. Any shifts remaining are then open to be filled from part timers all across the network. If a few happen to remain, full timers can be offered overtime. Finally, if all shifts still aren’t filled, labour hire can contracted to perform the most peripheral roles. This has never been required, however, due to the ever increasing part time culture of work at Metro, all hours are readily snapped up.

Spring Carnival work can be some of the most dangerous of the year for Station Staff due to the fact that packed and delayed trains and drunk and often drugged up customers are not a good mix, with staff caught in the crossfire. It is no place for a person without experience in this environment to be. Recognizing this, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union has immediately filed a dispute notice.

Metro management must be confident that they will be able to find the requisite amount of scabs (scab is not a word I ever use lightly, but doing work that someone else would be paid for is a scab), otherwise they would not have posted the ad. The question is, who would be interested in doing such a thing? 
Plenty in Metro’s bloated middle management section would be happy to do so, thinking that sticking their brown nose further up their bosses arse might get them a promotion.

Sadly, some part time station staff may be tempted as well, in a misguided thought that winning ‘brownie points’ could lead to the coveted full time position. They must be spoken to and have it explained the very serious effect scabbing will have on their reputation.

There are many theories as to why such a grubby course of action has been taken. It may just be an attempt by Metro to introduce and normalise such a practice. It could be an attempt to split the workforce. The most commonly discussed theory however, is that a certain manager’s bonus is linked to the amount of public holiday penalties are paid to staff per year, the lower the better for her. With an extra holiday being introduced to celebrate (whoops, sorry) commiserate the death of a Saxe-Coburg-Gotha who married her cousin, this certain manager may be clamoring to save her bonus. We may never know.

One thing is for certain. This grubby corporate behavior from a foreign multinational in charge of a vital public services demonstrates more than ever that our public transport must be just that again, public. Rip up the contracts and give the system back to the people!

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The masses can do anything

 


Written by: Clarence C on 14 September 2022

Across Australia, more and more workers are joining the tremendous upsurge in working class struggle. Teachers and nurses, rail, airport, maritime and healthcare workers, and others will have to come to terms with a fundamental truth of capitalist Australia: the ALP administration is nothing more than a committee for the ruling class that will not reverse the skyrocketing inflation imposed by the multinational corporations.

Everywhere, more and more workers are realising that they can only rely on their collective struggle. Their honeymoon period with the ALP administration will be short, because living standards and access to fundamental needs of life such as housing, dental, healthcare, food is under an all-out attack.  

Only parasites attack the source of their lifeblood – the multi-national corporations are such a parasite. They feed on the wealth that the Australian working class creates, and then deny us our right to live.  

The energy of working people is limitless, potentially all-powerful. Teachers and nurses marching in defiance of the law know this well – rail workers, airport workers, maritime workers and healthcare workers are rightfully pushing the boundaries. The laws of the Fair Work Act aim to straitjacket and divert them, while the forceful apparatus of the police and army, designed as a suppress them, is held in reserve.  

Where force is not required, the ruling class will rely on their agents within the union movement to deny working people of their right to harness the only true power they have, which is in the hearts, mind, optimism, creativity and democratic will of their membership.  

All forums with a closed door are designed to control and suppress the power of the masses to do anything. The masses have the right to smash down closed doors. The ruling class has no right to deny working people the full profits that come from their labour. Struggle empowers workers – it is impossible to deny this when immersed in the energy of the teachers and nurses marching in defiance of the law. The power of truly standing by each other cannot be underestimated. 

We fight for socialism as fish in the sea of the masses. The masses are our teachers and have an endless experience of struggle. It only requires one spark for more sections of the working class to join us. The brave actions of nurses and teachers in particular leads to the questions amongst other workers ‘They’re doing it, they’re not putting up with it, why not us?’ 

The spark is lit, the fire is raging and ever-expanding. The collective fire is not only the natural response to skyrocketing inflation under ALP administration. The collective fire will destroy the capitalist system and rebuild it for all Australian people. We call that system for Australian people socialism.  

Profits, Wages and Conditions

 


Written by: Jed J. on 14 September 2022

Workers are increasingly finding it hard to make ends meet. The paltry rises in wages they receive do not compensate for the rising cost of living.  In reality workers are working more for less.

At the same time profits as a percentage of GNP has never been higher and continue to grow at a fast rate.

According to ABS date the share of national income going to corporate profits has grown from 18% in the early 1960s to 32 % now. This trend towards a greater share of the national economy going to profits has accelerated in recent years while wage increases have virtually remained stagnant or even declined in real terms.

If it wasn’t for the labour power supplied by workers there would be no economic growth and thus no profits. Yet workers’ share of the wealth their labour generates is minimal compared to the wealth amassed by their employers.

This is a defining feature of today’s capitalism which workers are chained to. In this system they have only their labour power to sell so that they can live and provide for themselves and their families. 

This imbalance between wages and profits is a feature of the capitalist economic system and is responsible for the widening of the gap between rich and poor.

Productivity and Inflation:

Productivity is measured by how much output a worker can achieve for each hour of work. Over the past three years productivity has increased 1.5% annually while inflation in that period has risen on average by 2.1%.

For wages to have kept up with the cost of living they should have risen by at least 3.6% over the past three years yet they have averaged only a 2% growth. The fact is that employers are paying less for labour that is more productive.

How are employers getting away with this? One reason is the influence capitalists have on governments. Through intense lobbying they have been able to get the kind of industrial relations laws that put profits ahead of people.

This has resulted in unions having to struggle for better wages and conditions for all workers in an industrial legal setting which clearly favours the employer.

Inflation and wages:

The business sector’s reaction to the recent decision of the Fair Work Commission to grant workers on the minimum wage an increase of 5.2% shows how little they care for the welfare of workers. 

The increase which brought the hourly rate up to $21.38 was in response to the rise in inflation and will result in those on the minimum wage taking home only $812.60 per week. This wouldn’t cover the private school education costs of many capitalists.

Yet according to the business sector the rise in the minimum wage will have a devastating effect on the economy. According to the capitalists it will result in higher inflation and many small businesses will go to the wall as a result. 

The mass media shows its support for this view by only occasionally interviewing striking workers. Instead, they frequently interview cafĂ© owners who claim that the increase in the minimum wage may well result in them having to lay off workers. 

What the mass media doesn’t make known is that many small businesses will benefit from the lowest paid workers having more disposable income. The public would get a clearer picture of what the wage rise means if representatives of these small business owners are interviewed. 

The public would get an even clearer picture still if capitalists were interviewed as to the effect of this wage growth on their profit margin.

This fear mongering about higher wages leading to higher rates of inflation is simply not true. The 5.2% increase represents only a partial catch up of the rising cost of living which has already happened.
 
So, while profits are growing and wages falling behind the rate of inflation it would seem that businesses are actually profiting from inflation and are keeping the gains from higher productivity to themselves.

It is a good time for capitalists in Australia at present but many workers are finding it increasingly difficult to live on what they earn. 

Future Rises in Inflation:

In the recent past inflation has been low. However, this is fast changing. Now inflation is over 5% and is expected to rise further in the next year. This is bad news for those struggling on their current level of income. If wages go up more slowly than prices working people will be even worse off.

This rise in inflation is not caused by wage growth, but the increase in profits by big business. Wages can only lead to higher levels of inflation if they grow more than inflation and productivity combined. Wages can grow by 7% in the next year before they would have any effect on inflation.

This is because inflation is a measure of prices rises that have already occurred. Consequently, wages growth has fallen well behind the rise in prices over the past year. An increase in wages of 7% in the coming year will only cover the rise in the cost of living which has already occurred.

Consequences of Lack of Real Wage Increases:

Nurses, teachers and other workers in the public sector find they are struggling to make ends meet and are expected to work under deteriorating working conditions. 

Their volume of work has increased. As a result many are suffering from burnout and are leaving their professions which can only result in the situation becoming worse.

Australia’s energy, retail, transport, grocery and banking businesses are among the most profitable in the world. Increased government spending to cover real wage increases for workers in the public sector could be paid for from the profits businesses in these sectors are making. 

Some multinationals operating in Australia like Google and Facebook who pay virtually no tax could be levied on the profits they make in Australia. 
 Businesses in the resource sector could be told to pay a windfall profits tax. The super profit tax on the banking sector could be raised. 

The current boom in the mining sector requires fewer workers due to the introduction of much a greater use of automation. Businesses in this sector of the economy can now maintain their increased level of production with fewer workers. 

The increased level of profits enjoyed by this sector could easily bear the imposition of a windfall tax. The result being that part of the increased profits would flow through to the rest of the economy rather than to local and off shore shareholders

Such measures could be taken to raise government spending to fund wage increases for those working in essential services like education and health. 

Need for Changes in Industrial Relations:

For workers to get a fairer share of the wealth they create through their labour there would have to be a major restructure of the industrial relations system. Changes which would put employer and employee on a more equal footing. Everything now favours the bosses. That’s got to change.