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October 2011
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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)

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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)

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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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Occupy QANTAS; fight the one percent

Alan Joyce, part of the one percent, has locked out pilots, baggage handlers and flight engineers at QANTAS and grounded all flights, domestic and international.

Joyce wants to restructure QANTAS by sending jobs offshore – it’s cheaper – and effectively cutting the real wages of those he keeps in Australia. By contrast to the pittance he is offering his employees, Joyce’s salary can, if he meets performance targets, increase 71% over the year.

QANTAS  made over $500 million profit last year. It is one of the most profitable airlines in the world.

The industrial action was costing QANTAS about $15 million a week. The lockout will cost it $20 million a day. Shows you the worth of the workers doesn’t it? Without them QANTAS can’t make any money.

But Joyce’s gamble is that the dispute will end quickly. Clearly he wants to force the government to intervene through Fair Work Australia. On cue the Labor Party Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the Government would seek urgent orders to halt all industrial action.

If successful this would stop Joyce’s lock out and the workers’ actions, such as their hour or so stoppages and work to rule. That would give the upper hand to the one percent in charge of QANTAS and cruel any chance of putting real industrial pressure on Joyce.

A government that ruled for the 99% instead of the one percent would nationalise QANTAS and tax the bosses to pay for the QANTAS workers’ job security and adequate wages. 

Joyce’s aim is to smash the unions to be able to drive down wages and sack workers.

An response to this union busting for workers would be to escalate the dispute rather than sit back and let Fair Work screw them. They could consider occupying the airports and stop all flights (Jetstar and Virgin as well as QANTAS) getting in or out. They could demand better wages and job security for all workers in the industry. They could picket the workplaces to stop any scabs being used.

They might consider calling on other unions to black ban all airlines. This is because if QANTAS can smash their unions other bosses will try to do the same.

 The solution appears stark, and clear. Shut down the industry completely.

Most of these suggested actions would be illegal under Labor’s Fair Work Act (or Workchoices not so Lite.) They would only occur if the union membership takes control of the dispute and runs it to really win. And it could only win if other unions joined in and destroyed Labor’s penal provisions by their solidarity actions.

The locked out workers should consider setting up support groups so they can be fed and pay off their rent or mortgages while they are locked out. 

Sure as eggs, any solution from Fair Work Australia will favour QANTAS, not the workers. The logic of the capitalism and the international competitive pressures on QANTAS force it to try to shift jobs offshore and cut the wages of remaining staff. This is because profit comes before people.

Put people first.  That is one of the demands of the Occupy movement.

The Occupy movement must come out in support of the workers fighting the one percent at QANTAS.

They could for example be part of any solidarity actions and fundraising as well as expressing verbal support.

If the QANTAS workers did occupy their workplaces, the Occupy Movement could support that to the hilt and join them.

QANTAS workers are fighting the one percent. They are fighting for job security and better pay. They are fighting to put people first. We must support them. Victory to QANTAS workers.

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Comments

Comment from Chris Warren
Time October 29, 2011 at 9:54 pm

This latest development is a quick turn of events, so an off-the-cuff response is all that can be mustered now.

This issue has to be taken-up by all unions. The QANTAS dispute is not restricted to the airline industry.

The underlying issue is the use of oppressed (ie cheaper) labour to compete down relatively higher wages. This can impact on many different industries and destroy jobs.

But the unions should have fought this over the car industry in the 1980’s and over Australian manning of ships.

The union movment must move from the particular (QANTAS this time) to the general – the use of political oppression offshore to reduce wages elsewhere.

But the ACTU went down the path of ‘free trade’.

We need to look beyond this or that industry, and demand that free trade must not introduce social dumping into Australia.

Low labour costs due to no superannuation, no or poor OH&S, long hours, and little leave entitlements, represents social dumping.

Comment from Dan Murphy
Time October 30, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Good idea. Could go international as well. Qantas might put its head on the block as the first international target of the occupy movement. They need to focus on some targets quickly.
Will only happen if unions and occupy get their shit together quick smart. I
googled occupy qantas and only got one real link from this weekend and that was yours. So I won’t be holding my breath.
The implications of this blue have always been much bigger than one workplace and I have beed shocked at the complacency of the union movement. Until today I hadn’t seen the ACTU comment on this once.

Comment from Jolly
Time November 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Let’s kill the goose that lays the golden eggs! Sometimes we forget that we are in Asia (not Europe) and to compete in an Asian market we simply need to reinvent our business strategies. That most of the bonus for the CEO of QANTAS were in shares is often forgotten. Shares (as bonus) come with special conditions such as access only at retirement or after 5 years, etc. Shares are, by their very nature, volatile.
I simply don’t know the answers to QANTAS woes but I don’t like the mindless ‘Boss bashing’ either.

Comment from keyword tools
Time November 3, 2011 at 11:13 am

Just popping by late with this I’m aware but I’m enraged – Qantas can be grounded all over the planet due to industrial action – I sometimes ask myself, which century are we living in these days?