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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole
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Sick kids and paying upfront

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Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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University workers: build a fighting union, not a lobby group

The National Tertiary Education Union’s (NTEU) National Council has voted by a narrow margin to fund a $1 million election campaign backing the Greens and a range of Independents writes Liam Ward in Socialist Alternative. The campaign’s message is that only a progressive balance of power in both houses can defend university funding and restrain the anti-union onslaught.

Unionists should reject arguments calling for the union to abstain from politics. But Socialist Alternative members at council opposed the proposal for a very different reason. Our concern is that the union aims to mobilise NTEU members as foot soldiers for the candidates. Members will be called on to establish “campaign committees”, to run stalls and hold campaign events. It’s a strategy modelled on the “community” campaigns undertaken by US unions to help get Obama elected. One speaker for the motion even argued that we must become an “aggressive lobby group”.

We’re for building a fighting union, not a lobby group.

Some left-wingers claim it’s great that the union is “being political”. In fact, the plan has little to do with genuine political unionism of the sort once typified by, say, the Builders Labourers Federation or the Waterside Workers Federation. A more apt comparison might be the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association. They also run a quiescent union, doing sweetheart deals with employers and refusing to organise rank-and-file workers to fight. If the NTEU does these same things but supports progressive rather than reactionary causes, is it really a shining example of “being political”?

A genuine political campaign would centre on industrial action against the budget cuts. By contrast, what did we get between the announcement of the cuts and the National Day of Action on 14 May? Confusion and indecision over the question of striking, and finally most branches took no industrial action at all. And now we are to mobilise members to get the Greens’ vote out?

At the University of Sydney, the NTEU has proved that if our EBA campaigns prioritise industrial action over clever negotiating, we can recruit large numbers and rebuild activist rank-and-file networks. These networks could be the base of a strengthened union that has a chance of withstanding the inevitable Abbott attacks. We need to prioritise building such networks on all campuses now, and not squander our resources.

[Liam Ward is national councillor (Academic), RMIT University NTEU branch]

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