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John Passant

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April 2009



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

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

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Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


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Me on Razor Sharp this morning
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Save lives – smash the Australian Building and Construction Commission!

On 28 December last year John analysed Rudd’s WorkChoices.

He argued that the then draft laws showed that Rudd Labor was on the side of the bosses and against workers. 

In relation to the Australian Building and Construction Commission he said (echoing arguments he had been making since late 2007):

Finally the Government is folding in the Australian Building and Construction Commission into Fair Work Australia from 1 January 2010.  The ABCC has powers that are draconian and do not apply in any other industry.  Building and construction workers should be treated like every other worker.

The reason for the existence of the ABCC is not to clean up the industry – no successful prosecutions of workers came out of the Cole Royal Commission – but to tame militant building unions from winning better pay and conditions.

So Rudd’s Work Choices will keep this abomination till 1 January 2010.  But folding it into another body is not abolishing it.  It is merely changing its name.  So the ABCC will continue to harass and bully and possibly jail workers in the building industry.  Abolish it, not keep it. This Labor Government is on the side of the bosses generally and building bosses – hardly saints – in particular.

All of these measures I have talked about contravene ILO principles.  But is going to the ILO the answer?  As I said before, it won’t upset Rudd or Gillard if the ILO rules their Bill contravenes some basic organising principles.

In 1969 left wing unions organised rolling general strikes (especially  in Victoria) after John Kerr jailed Clarrie O’Shea from the Tramways Union for refusing to pay fines imposed for industrial action.  After 5 days a mysterious benefactor paid the fines. The strikes shut down major industries. The bosses were too scared to use the penal powers and they became a dead letter for a decade.

That’s the way to defeat Rudd’s Work Choices.

The ABCC is anti-democratic. It has the power to jail workers for six months for failing to attend hearings or for telling anyone they are being investigated/interrogated/quizzed.

Smashing the ABCC is now a matter of life or death.  According to the building unions workplace accidents have increased  since the ABCC began its  campaign against them enforcing safety measures on site. 


The recent Wilcox report into the ABCC recommended it retain its powers, a recommendation Rudd and Gillard gratefully accepted. 

Disgracefully the report didn’t mention safety at all. On average one worker a week dies on building sites.

Here’s what Dave Noonan, head of the powerful CFMEU, had to say:

The so called ‘industrial harmony’ brought about by the ABCC and heralded by Justice Wilcox comes at the expense of the lives of construction workers. We have deteriorating safety on construction site across Australia. At the very time Justice Wilcox was finalising his report, BHP and John Holland had a construction worker killed on their project. 

In addition, under Howard’s (and now Rudd’s) laws the unions have paid strike fines that are severely weakening their ability to organise.

600 delegates from all the building unions in Victoria passed a series of resolutions recently against the ABCC.  Here are two of them:

Refuse to Co-operate 


This meeting of shop stewards / delegates condemns the use of the coercive powers by the ABCC.

We call on all Union officials construction workers to refuse to participate in such interrogations.

In event of any person being imprisoned or otherwise penalised for refusing to co-operate with the ABCC we pledge our full support and call for a national industrial response from the construction unions, the ACTU and all affiliates.

 28th April Mass Rally


This combined delegates meeting resolves to support a joint mass rally on 28th April (on the International Day of Mourning) at 10.00 am Lygon St Trades Hall, of all Victorian construction workers to protest against the number of workers killed and injured because of poor workplace safety practices in the Australian Construction Industry and the ongoing anti-worker activities of the ABCC.

So the union movement is beginning to think about and threaten action and undertake one small stoppage. It is a start. 


But it will take more than vague threats and token actions to smash the Rudd Labor Government’s anti-worker ABCC.


The Clarrie O’Shea strikes almost 40 years ago show that penal powers ands similar anti-union laws can be defeated. By cutting off the flow of money we make them realise that no amount of laws are worth the cost of lost profits.


It is a lesson we should learn today.


Building workers, strike now to smash Rudd’s ABCC. Don’t go back to work until Rudd agrees to repeal this abomination.



Comment from Chris MacDonald
Time April 16, 2009 at 10:55 pm

The ABCC is not anti-worker its anti-criminal and anti-extortion. Teh building unions have only themselves to blame after decades of bully boy standover tactics and blatant extortion, such as demanding delivery dirvers have CFMEU tickets to enter sites, closing sites because the toilet paper was the wrong colour or because the sun shines durign the day. These practices would be tolerated nowhere else and the ABCC is the only thing keeping the building industry to proper work standards.

Comment from Leonie
Time April 17, 2009 at 7:51 am

Thanks Chris. The Howard government set up the Cole Royal Commission to destroy the building unions. It cost from memory $66 m. I understand that despite all the bluster and bullshit about criminality, there has been only one successful prosecution coming out of Cole -of a boss.

I think it is convenient for the people who lie to us daily – the politicians and bosses – to use criminality as a cloak to cover their real aim. That real aim is to destroy unions who do what unions are supposed to – defend their members living standards, jobs and safety.

The impact of the ABCC has been to limit the ability of building workers through their unions and through strike action to enforce safety standards. A worker a week is killed on building sites. Many more are severely injured. Those figures have gone up since the hard cop of the ABCC has been patrolling the beat and dragging people into secret hearings where all their rights as citizens are abolished. Those extra deaths and injuries lie squarely at the feet of the Governments who have introduced and supported this abomination and of the ABCC itself.

It shows you how far capitalism is prepared to go to defend its precious profits. To the bosses and their hired hand Labor and Liberal Governments workers’ lives are not important but profits are. I put people first.

Comment from Brett
Time April 17, 2009 at 10:09 am


It shows you how far capitalism is prepared to go to defend its precious profits. To the bosses and their hired hand Labor and Liberal Governments workers’ lives are not important but profits are. I put people first.

This is a bit rich, when you have Bill advocating kidnapping and thuggery here. It seems that Marxists are just as willing, if not more so, to back bullying and violence.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

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