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(en) Anarcho-Syndicalist Rebel Worker Vol.34 No.3 (227)Nov.-Dec. Debate on "Industrial Organising"
Tue, 6 Dec 2016 14:33:24 +0200
Hello fellow workers! ---- As a unionist from Adelaide the closing of Holden's, as well
as the selling or potential closure of the Arrium Whyalla Steelworks presents a massive
working class struggle. It's my opinion that if these businesses close down the workers
should take control of the factories for themselves. What I want to know is how to plant
that seed and instigate that struggle? Any suggestions on where to start and what to do? I
don't know much about Holden's and even less about Arrium Steel, the sheer size of these
operations would make organising a workers occupation a major struggle. ----
Radelaide-the-tragic ---- Well that's a huge task to be honest. ---- In Brisbane when
Campbell Newman sacked masses of Railway workers, a few years ago, BSN went out to the
train yards in Ipswich to set up stall with info flyers to encourage general strike
action, and talk to people during shift change over.
General response was, 'Thanks mate, but should have started doing this 6 months ago. Bit
late now'. So guess it's the old path of finding a few like minds, getting in there, start
sharing the idea, with the means that you have.
The reality in regard to the Ipswich stuff - is that your mob was not interested in doing
the long range "serious" organising in this sector prior to the sackings. You had an
important tool, the ASN (Anarcho-Syndicalist Network) transport paper - your mob -
refused to get behind it!!! With it you could have made contacts with workers who wanted
to do something, did stories/interviews or even made contact with a militant workers
network which may have existed behind the scenes. Helped them with their agitation,
networking, countering management propaganda, etc. Developed a QLD rail section (you in
fact did have at least one of your group in Qld Rail at this time) and even later on
other sections in the paper. So not just 6 months earlier, you could have helped get the
grassroots organising ball rolling years earlier! You could still do something like this
now. But is your mob serious about industrial organising?
The Bankruptcy of Leftist Activoidism and the "Smoke & Mirrors" Technique of the Union
What you wrote above does look like the type of pointless stuff left sects and their
activoids get up to. Getting involved when something big happens but is too late and
churning out a bit of abstract propaganda - and perhaps having a bit of excitement and an
excuse for a social occasion.
In the case of the notorious "Hutchison Ports" dispute of 2015 - in fact certain of these
sects and activoids were used by the union bosses of the MUA(Maritime Union of Australia)
in a despicable "smoke and mirrors" performance. Where a fake victory was claimed but a
real defeat of workers achieved by the MUA bosses and the employer/Govt.(1)
In regard to the Laverton, Victoria, Baiada Poultry processing plant strike of 2011, the
National Union of Workers (NUW) hierarchy used the services of leftist activoids and sects
together with NUW officials for a fake community picket. Instead of mobilising
meatworkers across the state and nationally to help the Laverton workers strike for
improved conditions. Again the activoids were "lured" into a "smoke and mirrors"
performance by the union bosses. After a few weeks the union officials closed down the
struggle claiming a "fake victory". It included a pay rise which barely met inflation and
the guarantee of making workers after 6 months on the job permanent, but this clause had
been in the previous agreement. It had never been implemented. Subsequently the NUW
officials collaborated with the bosses in the phased cutting of hundreds of jobs over
successive years. Until only 100 workers were left, prior to announcement by the company
of the closure of the plant on 17/10/16.
What "Serious" Syndicalist Industrial Organising Would Look Like?
We actually did something exactly on these above lines (re serous long range work) in
NSW/Sydney - in the years in the lead up to the Olympics in 2000. After some years we did
make contact with such a militant network. Helped them with their stuff and assisted them
to win a key union mass meeting which they forced the union bosses to call - to oppose
restructuring of the railways station network for privatisation. To out manoeuvre this
grass roots success, the union bosses called a lightning state wide rail strike in Sept.
1999, in the week before a national ALP conference held in Sydney. All this had far
reaching consequences in terms of slowing the general privatisation push and slowing the
tempo of the employer offensive. (2)
In regard to Whyalla - there has been a media report of workers there opposing a push by
the union bosses/the bosses for the workers to agree to the cut of wages and conditions.
This may indicate the activity of an above "behind the scenes" militant network. So there
may be time to assist them, if a way can be found to determine if it exists make contact.
They would need help re putting out a workplace paper etc.
Stop Press: Latest news is that the AWU (Australian Workers Union) officials and bosses
have been successful in pressuring the Steel workers to agree to the cutbacks.
1. See "Hutchison Ports Dispute" in RW Vol.34 No.3 (224) Nov.-Dec. 2015 on web site
2. See "Anarcho-Syndicalism: Catalyst for Workers Self-Organisation" and
"Anarcho-Syndicalist Strategy for Australia, Today", in the archive section of
Thanks to Libcom
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