Grocon: will it be pigs and wigs or workers and hard hats who win?
The Grocon dispute is entering a crucial stage.
In the 2 weeks of the peaceful workers’ protests, and despite the help of hundreds of pigs, Grocon has managed to sneak in just a couple of scabs and management onto the site. It has, it says, lost half a million dollars a day because of this safety on site dispute.
Grocon has played the game in the Courts, before Fair Work Australia (and then rejected what the laughably called umpire recommended) and on the streets with
its own the Victorian police force.
Come on cops. Haven’t you got better things to do with your time than protect the profits and property of Grocon?
You know, what about investigating the possible cover up of crimes against kids that the Catholic Church may have been involved in? Why not send 1000 pigs around the state interviewing the Catholic hierarchy and the victims of paedophilia instead of attacking workers?
It does show your priorities. Protecting kids from paedophiles and those who might have hidden their crimes or defending property and profit? Good choice. Kids are expendable, profits are the real lifeblood of our society. Is that it?
If chasing down the Church hierarchy is too much for you, how about using those 1000 cops to enforce safety standards on building sites? Why not? You’d save lives – about one a week. Or is profit more important than people?
Archbishop Desmond Tutu recently called for the prosecution of Blair and Bush as war criminals for their invasion of Iraq. Maybe you could work on that for the brief for the next time these criminals set foot in Australia.
Or why don’t Victoria Police investigate our homegrown terrorists, John Howard, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard for their alleged war crimes?
But again, I guess it is priorities with the pigs – profit before people. And who better to enforce profit and property rights than the armed thugs of the state?
It looks as if Daniel Grollo, the multi-billionaire Grocon owner, is upping the ante, seeking contempt of court charges against the building workers’ union, the CFMEU.
The Union cannot win in the courts of capital. Even if they did, they would lose. In the waterside workers dispute in 1998 the Maritime Union won in the courts. Its members lost in the ports.
The legal system is the bosses’ battle ground. For workers the battle ground is the coal face of production, in this case the building sites.
The courts are institutions of the capitalist system. The power they yield is the power that flows from the bosses’ system, either at common law or under legislation.
Labor’s Fair Work Act makes any picket of the Emporium Building unprotected union action. The order of the Supreme Court on the union to not be involved in the picket may only apply to those union officials named and served.
Most strikes in Australia are, under Labor’s industrial laws, illegal. Unions and members can be and are liable for thousands of dollars fines.
Is there an alternative? Yes. Unions could continue with industrial action in defence of workers, refuse to pay fines, and strike across Australia if any fines are imposed. They could strike if any union official or member is jailed for not paying the fines.
Unions and their members have the power to destroy Labor’s current industrial straight-jacket and win the unfettered right to strike and so for example improve safety on site.
Sound far fetched? A little history lesson might show how workers’ power can defeat Labor’s draconian anti-worker laws.
In 1969 left wing unions across Australia went on rolling strikes after Justice John Kerr (yes, that John Kerr) jailed Tramways Union official Clarrie O’Shea for not paying a fine imposed on the union for taking industrial action. Five days into the general strikes a mysterious benefactor paid the fines and O’Shea was released from jail. As he told cheering workers the Union hadn’t paid a cent.
The penal powers became a dead letter.
Unions have the strike power today to turn the penal powers in Labor’s Workchoices lite into a dead letter.
Grocon is escalating the fight in the bosses’ favoured terrain, the Courts. It’s time for unions and workers to fight our battles on the ground most suited and advantageous to us – the workplace.
Militant unions and their members across Australia could shut down the building industry tomorrow. They could link up with striking teachers in Victoria and public servants in Queensland and show the bosses where the real strength in our society lies – with us in our workplaces.
Grocon is narrowing the options for workers to enforce safety on site. It is now all or nothing.
If Grocon wins it will be a setback for all workers. That’s why it is important for building workers to fight back in the way that has the greatest chance of success – striking and shutting down the building industry and cutting off the flow of massive profits to bludgers like Grollo and his ilk, and in doing that calling on other workers to join them to bury Labor’s anti-worker Fair Work Act.
Readers might also like to read They die for profit.
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