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(en) New Zealand, Dissident Voice* #7 - Australian Unionists Fight to Free Craig Johnston

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 27 Dec 2004 11:24:19 +0100 (CET)


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On Thursday 25th November 2004, 6,000 unionists took to the streets of
Melbourne to protest against the imprisonment of former state secretary of
the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), Craig Johnston.
In September this year Craig was jailed to a prison sentence of 2 years nine
months with a minimum of nine months to be served immediately. He
was charged with two counts of affray, threat to kill, lawful damage and a
myriad of other charges after he took part in a union occupation with 17
other union members. The occupations took place at Johnston tiles
where 29 workers jobs were outsourced to labour provider Skilled
Engineering.

The unionists entered Johnson Tiles to photograph the scab labourers for
a shame board. Following that, six unionists travelled across town to
Skilled Engineering with the intention of rendering the office inoperable
– this was achieved with $45,000 worth of damage.

Direct political targeting and blindingly obvious injustices ensued when 15
of the 17 were fined $1,000 and given good behaviour bonds. 1 person
was let off charges all together for ratting on everybody else and Craig was
sent to prison.

Craig is a member of Workers First, which is a militant strength within the
AMWU. Because of their commitment to rank and file control of the
union, and with an ability to achieve through their militancy, they were
viewed as a threat to the bureaucratic national body of the AMWU.

The national body however lacks the strength of numbers on the street.
Despite memo's dispatched by national secretary and basic bureaucratic
scum Doug Cameron warning union members that attending the rally
could cost them their jobs, 1500 attended. In some instances entire shops
shut, others sent delegations by the busload. The Maritime Union of
Australia shut shop in a solid display of union solidarity across other
unions.

What these unions provide is proof that when the masses take to the
streets, they hold the power. These unionists went against the status quo
of the union, who when faced with supporting one of their own or bowing
to the conservative Labour party to which they are affiliated, choose the
latter.

This rally may not have achieved the immediate release of Craig Johnston,
it has however proved to the bureaucratic scum that exist at the top of
these unions, the strength that lies beneath them.

These structures only remain in existence as the rank and file see them as
a superfluous entity within the movement. If something is wanted it is
fought for not by union officials but by the rank and file – the sooner
we realise this in New Zealand the better! All the money and supposed
‘power' of these select few will not stop the marches, will not stop the
strikes and will not put an end to the strength and solidarity of the rank and
file union members, and will most certainly not put an end to what this can
achieve.

For more information on the Free Craig Johnston campaign, visit the
website at
www.defendcraigjohnston.info

If you would like to send a message of solidarity to Craig in prison, the
address is:
Loddon Prison
Locked Bag 3
Castlemaine, Victoria 3450
Australia

--- Lynda Boyd
========================================
* Aotearoa Dissident Voice - New Zealand's most unrespectable
revolutionary rag. Aotearoa Dissident Voice is a free volunteer-run
magazine that aims to provide an open space for the free flow of
anarchist and libertarian left news, analysis and creativity.
www.dissidentvoice.org.nz edcollective@dissidentvoice.org.nz


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