43571Re: The left, the trade unions and the Labor Party ranks
- Jun 8, 2007--- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "Ratbag Radio"
re: whether or not it's possible to 'roll back' some of the more
Conservative positions adopted by Rudd... It's worth remembering that
Rudd and Gillard were elevated to power with the help of the Left.
This seems to have been the right choice since Rudd has been
outperforming Beazley in the polls ever since...
But I think the Left's negotiators should have made certain things
crystal clear to Rudd and Gillard prior to their challenge for the
leadership. To begin with, they should have emphasised that no
matter what mandate they felt they had, the mandate of the party rank
and file, provided by Conference matters most. Here, Conference was
clear that the ABCC should go. The Left should have also raised the
issue of pattern bargaining at Conference rather than letting it
slip, and allowing Rudd to unilaterally declare a policy. And it
should have emphasised to the Right that Conference support for
pattern bargaining was a key condition for unity in the movement in
the run up to the election.
The problem, now, is that it's hard to respond without discrediting
the leader. There is a desperate need for damage control. Factional
negotiators, and National Exec (behind the scenes), need to make it
clear to Rudd that he should make no more statements of policy in
contravention of Conference... And there should be an understanding
that if the ABCC is to remain until 2010 that its powers will be
wound back, as will associated sanctions against workers, and that
charges will be dropped after the election against those workers who
have faced the body's wrath. And while industry-wide industrial
action in pursuit of an industry agreement might be spurned by the
movement to avoid division and backlash, it should be asserted after
the election that the pursuit of common wages and conditions across
an industry is not 'illegal'. These compromises, negotiated behind
the scenes, could avoid costly blood-letting. If Rudd did not agree
to these terms it would be made clear that the labour movement would
find itself in a divided and fractious state after the election.
Meanwhile, I'm in favour of holding additional NDAs to press the
claims of the labour movement. And I think such NDAs, while pressing
for a Labor government, ought also mobilise people around claims that
go beyond Labor's platform. Dissolution of the ABCC is Labor policy,
and pressing this claim should occur as a matter of course.
But ACTU leaders should also make it clear that pattern bargaining is
a core right, and that banning pattern bargaining could have bad
consequences for workers. (ie: a 'race to the bottom' in wages and
Such claims would have to be carefully balanced, however: against the
need to keep the movement mobilised around the aim of electing a
Labor government. The situation is complex; but people respond to
simple messages, and confusion can result in demobilisation,
Elections are not everyting, and the ACTU should be running a
campaign that goes beyond electoralism; but the election is in about
five months, and its outcome will be critical.
The problem I see is that outside the ACTU or state labour councils
the Left just doesn't have the resources to mobilise a credible NDA.
You'd really need tens of thousands in Melbourne and Sydney to have a
credible mandate for pattern bargaining and the aboliton of the ABCC.
To do this you'd need support across the breadth of the labour
movement. We can't do this without ACTU logistics; unless we have the
support, say, of a state labour council. The real challenge for
leftists is to win the debate at the level of the movement's
leadership, and to build a movement on the ground that can take
unions in a new direction. In the meantime, there's the option of a
petition: but GetUp and Labour Start rejected my proposals for a
campaign aimed at garnering support for a more progressive ALP IR
policy... Without these options, I just don't know where else to
Many people, including myself, feel we have to 'do something'... But
whatever we do, we need to be clear that we have the logistical depth
In the meantime, I will continue to argue against these policies;
with the hope of influencing the Left leadership to lean on Rudd to
provide a settlement that's more acceptable to all of us.
- << Previous post in topic Next post in topic >>