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John Passant

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October 2011



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

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From the war in Afghanistan to a lockout in Australia, the battle remains the same

An Afghan army trainee killed 3 Australian soldiers. Julia Gillard put on her sad mask and expressed regret from all Australians.

So will we withdraw to end this senseless slaughter of Afghans and the occasional collateral damage inflicted on the invaders?  No.  It was, Gillard said, in our national interest to remain.

When the bourgeoisie and its politicians talk about the national interest they mean the interest of the one percent. It is in the interests of the Australian bourgeoisie to have troops in Afghanistan, not to defeat ‘terrorism’, not to spread democracy, but to support US imperialism.

The history of Australian capitalism has been that it attaches itself to a great power to protect and expand its own interests.

The troops of the Australian ruling class are in Afghanistan to buy insurance with American imperialism. The 32 troops who have died there and the 209 who have been injured are the blood money for an insurance policy with the US ruling class.

The rise of China has changed the focus of US imperialism and given Australia a new strategic role. The Americans are planning to use Australia as a forward base for the encirclement of China.

The troops in Afghanistan help lock that in, protect the capital accumulation process in Australia and allow our bourgeoisie to branch out in the region under the tutelage of the dominant world power.

Just as troops abroad are born of the capital accumulation process, so too are lockouts.

The international airline industry is a vicious cabal of grubby little capitalists cutting each others’ throats to find new ways to reduce labour costs and make profit.

It is this international competition which forces QANTAS to adopt WorkJoyces – refusing to grant their workers modest pay increases or guarantee job security, and now closing down all flights in a classic lockout to force the Government and Fair Work Australia to intervene.

It looks as if QANTAS’s goal is an arbitrated settlement.

Fair Work Australia is an institution of the one percent so its decisions will be in favour of the one percent, even if it balances that out somewhat with a recognition that the one percent can only survive if the 99% are OK.

The soldiers in Afghanistan are fighting and dying to protect the Alan Joyces of the world and their right to make profits off our labour; their right to attack our wages and jobs; their right to lock us out.

They are fighting and dying for the one percent.

If it happens, the victory of the QANTAS workers will be a great step forward in the class war in Australia and a win for the 99 percent. It might then create a space for dissident voices to call for troops to come home, for an end to the rule of the one percent and for a society that satisfies human need not corporate greed.

The best way to bring the troops home is to radicalise the working class, in this case around economic issues where the spillover to political issues arises almost of course.

There has been some talk about this lockout being a watershed moment, like the maritime dispute in 1998. It is. But there is an important lesson for QANTAS workers to draw from that. Maritime workers won in the courts, but lost in the ports. The dispute was a legal defeat for the bosses but an industrial win.

Don’t rely on the courts and other institutions of the one percent to give you better pay and job security. You will have to fight for it. That means shutting down the whole of the aviation industry in Australia. QANTAS workers have that power.

If capital begins to flee, then nationalise QANTAS. Take over the workplaces and run QANTAS without the bosses, without Alan Joyce.

Tax the rich and the bosses to pay for better wages and job security. After all it is this one percent who over the last 30 years have been getting more and more of the wealth we create. It’s time we demanded it back.

That is what QANTAS workers are doing – challenging in a small way the dominance of the one percent and their wealth shifting system, challenging their right to rule. They are putting people before profits – human need, not corporate greed.

Victory to QANTAS workers in the class war.  Victory to QANTAS workers over the one percent.

Postscript: The termination of all industrial action at QANTAS by Fair Work Australia means that QANTAS workers now have their main bargaining power quashed. QANTAS has got what it wanted. After 21 days (or such extension as given) there will be arbitration and the result will be much less than the workers want, and certainly won’t guarantee job security.



Comment from Ross
Time October 31, 2011 at 6:21 pm

The QANTAS workers will not have victory if we do not change the global situation of debt slavery.If the QANTAS workers win,this means that QANTAS will not be able to compete globally.QANTAS will then be sold off to foreign interests.

What needs be done is to raise the living standards of all people by getting rid of this system that expresses our productivity as debt.Iceland is making progress since it told the EURO criminals where to stick their counterfeit currency.Greece and the other so called PIGS can do likewise.

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