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John Passant

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November 2011



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Nationalise QANTAS under workers’ control

The one percent cannot give what QANTAS workers want – a modest five percent pay increase and job security.

The one percent – QANTAS management, the rest of the ruling class cheering them on, the Labor government and Fair Work Australia – will reject these reasonable demands because it conflicts with the essence of capitalism, the right of capital to make ‘decent’ profits.

The chant of the Occupy movement – human need, not corporate greed – captures this class division perfectly.

QANTAS’s corporate greed – its need to increase its return on investment in competition with other airlines and capital more generally and hence cutting its costs through internationalising its services and reducing wages in Australia – clashes with the human need of QANTAS workers for secure jobs and increased wages that at least cover the real cost of living increases for households.

Under capitalism this class struggle over the distribution of the surplus can only be resolved in favour of workers through class struggle. That does not appear to be on the agenda at the moment from a union leadership compromised by years of complicity in neoliberal wealth shifting to the ruling class. That wealth shift to the rich has been so great that the share of national income going to capital is now at its highest since records were kept and that going to labour its lowest.

This wealth transfer to capital is driven by the need of capital to redress the tendency under its system for profit rates to fall. Lengthening the working day, new technology and returning only a pittance of the wealth workers create to workers are all part of the witches’ brew of capitalism and its systemic need for profit, profit profit to reinvest.

Fair Work Australia is one of the institutions of the one percent. It is captured and driven by the logic of the system of the one percent. For workers to actually win anything decent from it would require a massive strike campaign.

The decision to terminate all industrial action means the dispute has moved from terrain favourable to QANTAS workers to one favourable to Allan Joyce and his sister in arms, Julia Gillard.

Thee are no halfway houses. QANTAS workers could occupy QANTAS and begin running it. They have the skill and the expertise to do so; better indeed than the popinjays of profit like Alan Joyce who know only the strictures of capitalist ideology, practice and management, trapped as they are within the logic of capital accumulation.

The only way workers running the airline industry is going to occur is if QANTAS workers organise now and demand Labor nationalise QANTAS and tax the rich and capital to pay for adequate pay increases and job security. They would have to back these demands up with threats of strikes and when rejected, strikes that shut down not just QANTAS but the rest of the airline industry and draw in other workers to win the campaign.

The alternative is a real wage cut and insecure jobs.

Be realistic. Demand what is impossible for the one percent to deliver – real wage increases and secure jobs. Organise now to strike and shut down the airline industry to win these demands.

Nationalise QANTAS under workers’ control to win real wage increases and secure jobs. Tax the rich to pay for it.



Pingback from En Passant » Nationalise #QANTAS under workers’ control « The Left Hack
Time November 1, 2011 at 8:06 am

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Comment from Robert Verdon
Time November 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm

‘Nationalise QANTAS under workers’ control to win real wage increases and secure jobs. Tax the rich to pay for it.’
Absolutely! QANTAS is currently owned by JP Morgan, Citicorp, HSBC, etc. About as ‘Australian’ as Holden or Vegemite.

Comment from dl
Time November 1, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Imagine the hell that would break loose right now if some of the other Airlines, such as Australia-based Tiger Airways employees, or Virgin, decided to initiate a secondary action in solidarity with QANTAS workers. Too bad it’s illegal in Australia, and Labor would likely come down on such an industrial dispute like a tonne of bricks.
The pay rises that are being called for (apparently 15% over three years and additionally to keep QANTAS an Australian-based company) aren’t even that unreasonable, when future inflation is factored in.

Economy wide, I’m not even sure there is a link between country wide union participation and competitiveness, when measured by a given country’s current account deficit. This is contrary to what one reads in many mainstream news articles right across the establishment political spectrum . It’s just another supply side economics canard.

Comment from Ross
Time November 1, 2011 at 8:55 pm

The workers will have to become shareholders but for Qantas to survive,the maintenance and staffing of planes will have to be foreign, unless the tax payer makes up the difference.So are we as tax payers going to subsidise every industry that someone thinks is important? It will mean even more debt for no result.Tax payer subsidies makes business very inefficient and nepotistic.

This is where you are on the slippery slope of just replicating the nepotism of the banking system.They own our increases productivity and create as debt the money to equal it.This is the core of the problem.

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