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43571Re: The left, the trade unions and the Labor Party ranks

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  • Tristan
    Jun 8, 2007
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      --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "Ratbag Radio"
      <ratbagradio@...> wrote:

      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
      to succeed.

      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.

      Tristan Ewins
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