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John Passant

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December 2010



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
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Visy – so striking is a crime now too?

Yesterday it was free speech. Today it is striking.

On Monday morning police viciously attacked a picket line at the Visy plant in Dandenong in Melbourne, arresting 29 striking workers.

Their crime? Trying to win a better wage deal from the Pratts, the rich bastards who own Visy, and whose wealth comes for the sweat of their workers and the lie that is private property. And from price fixing.

While this might be part of a strategy on the part of the new Liberal Government to prove its credentials to the ruling class, the attacks took place under Labor’s industrial laws.

Police have charged the workers with ‘besetting a premises’. This is code for setting up a  picket line.

Visy got a court order a bit over a week ago to allow access to the site and prevent union officials participating. Relying on ‘independent umpires’ is clearly not working. Only real industrial muscle can win this dispute and force Visy to back down. 

The criminalisation of strike activity except in certain limited circumstances has been the common agenda of both the Labor Party and the Liberals, the two arms of neoliberalism in Australia. This is as true of Labor’s Workchoices Lite as it was of the Coalition’s Workchoices.

The two parties of neoliberalism have been able to set up an industrial regime that criminalises most industrial action only because the Australian Council of Trade Unions has allowed them to.

As the pressure on profit rates globally and in Australia grows, there will be more and more attacks on workers trying to defend their jobs and conditions. The time to take a stand is now.

30 years of collaborating with the bosses has led to a weak, directionless union movement with declining numbers and the destruction of rank and file confidence, the backbone of any successful union movement. Yet despite this class collaboration by the union bureaucracy over 2 million workers still have enough class consciousness to join a union.

The 2 million unionised workers could turn off the profit tap tomorrow and these anti-union laws and actions would be dead, cremated and buried. 

Ged Kearney, the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, is reported to be shocked by the cops’ attack. 

“I cannot believe a company as well respected and with a standing that Visy has in Australia has resorted to this style of industrial relations, this sort of thuggery.”

I am surprised that she is shocked that a company would put profit before wages and use the thugs of the capitalist state to enforce their ‘right’ to exploit workers. Gee, who’d have thunk it?

At least Kearney told workers to keep up their protest. But it needs to go further than that. 

An injury to one is an injury to all.

Visy workers can only win if other workers and unions join them and close down Visy operations across Australia.

Such activity is illegal under Labor’s laws.

Defy Labor and their pro-boss industrial laws. Spread the Visy dispute. Close them down. Victory to Visy workers.



Comment from Tom
Time December 15, 2010 at 6:30 am

All workers must take a stand and back the Visy strikers. Does the police not have a union? If they do why does their union permit their members to illegally harrass members of another union lawfully striking. We have been enslaved by the government cartels.

Comment from Clive Tillman
Time December 15, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Would you know if the police have actually went a head with their charges on the workers?

I have been thinking of getting a petition up and running demaning the police drop all charges against the workers. Would you be in?

Comment from John
Time December 15, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Don’t know Clive. I’ll see what I can find out. But I would think they don’t attack workers and drag them without intending to go ahead with it and send a message to striking workers anywhere in Victoria that they too could end up in jail for peaceful strike activity.

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