They die for profit
Posted by John, August 30th, 2012 - under ABCC, Australian Building and Construction Commission, Australian army, Building industry, Building unions, Building workers, CFMEU, Grocon, Picket, Picketing, Profits, Strikes.
Last year around 50 building workers died on site. There are no parades, no politicians crying, no heads of government or their agencies mourning their loss and proclaiming the black day it is for Australia.
These are the silent dead, killed in the brutal building industry for profit. They die in a war, the class war, a one sided battle which the enemy – the building bosses, the ALP and the Coalition – has dominated for too long.
The brutal building bosses are interested in one thing, and one thing alone. Profit. The workers are vitally interested in their own safety.
The Labor Party and Coalition have criminalised strikes expect in certain very limited circumstances. Workers can no longer walk off the job to enforce safety standards.
On top of that the Howard Government set up the Australian Building and Construction Commission in 2005 and gave it draconian powers to police and tame building unions and building workers. It effectively killed wildcat strikes over safety with threats of huge fines or jail.
This effectively killed building workers.
Since the ABCC came into existence in 2005, the rate of deaths and injuries on building sites, according to the CFMEU, went up. The union says:
Deaths in the construction industry increased, from 3.14 per 100,000 workers in 2004 [before the ABCC was set up] to 3.86 in 2005, 5.6 in 2006, 4.48 in 2007 and 4.27 in 2008.
Last year Leighton Holdings said that the death toll on building sites was around 50 a year and trending up, possibly to 100 by 2014. The death rate in the UK, Leighton pointed out, was half that in Australia because there they have a safety code and it is enforced.
That is what the battle at Grocon is about – unions, whose number one priority is safety, being able to enforce safety standards. Without that power the bosses will cut safety corners and risk lives in the name of profit.
There are no main news items and reams of analysis for those who have fallen in the battle of the building sites, those who die in the name of building company profit. They are the forgotten, murdered by the profit system.
It is different for soldiers. They are murdering for profit. The Australian ruling class has troops in Afghanistan as an insurance policy with the US over the ANZUS pact, and an umbrella for Australian imperialist expansion in the region.
With the growing strength of China and the US policy of containment – which is in part what Afghanistan is about – Australia is becoming a forward base for US expansion in the Pacific against China.
Not surprisingly the countries our rulers invade resist Western occupations and Australians soldiers get killed.
Our solders are not liberators but occupiers. The way to stop the troops being killed is to bring them home. The anti-war movement has collapsed and cannot pressure government to do this.
But the working class, with its power on display at Grocon sites around the country, shows where the real power in society lies.
The bosses have their laws, but they mean nothing if workers in large enough numbers defy them and halt the flow of profits to the bludgers who live off our labour.
One task for the Australian left is to link the fight for lives and against the bosses’ killing machine on building sites to the fight in Australia against the Australian ruling class’s killing machine in Afghanistan. That ruling class killing machine is in Afghanistan repressing Afghans to protect the system that produces Grocon’s safety practices and profits.
In the ten years Australian troops have been in Afghanistan 38 soldiers have died, most of them killed by resistance fighters. Seven have died as a result of ‘insider’ attacks, the so-called green on blue attacks. In the same period on building sites somewhere around 400 building workers have died, killed by the insatiable drive for profit.
The time has come for workers to win the war against unsafe work conditions killing building workers on site. That is why it is important that the CFMEU and building workers stand firm against the bosses’ laws, the capitalist courts and the mad mainstream media and win the life and death battle against Grocon and for workers on Australian building sites.
In understanding their own strength through struggle workers can more easily see the links between the bosses’ wars overseas and their war against workers here. Therein lies the hope for the future.