Ark Tribe is an Adelaide construction worker facing up to six months’ jail for refusing to be interrogated by the Australian Building and Construction Commission, the secret police set up by the former John Howard federal government to smash the strength of the building unions.
The following article is abridged from www.arkstribe.blogspot.com.
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During the past month, Ark Tribe has travelled across Australia visiting Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane, speaking to groups of workers about his situation and the laws that will jail him for six months if the Australian Building and Construction Commission has its way.
The solidarity and support he has received have been incredible. He has been left in no doubt that workers and other people throughout the country support the principled stand he has taken against outrageous laws that have no place in a democracy.
The United Nations, through the International Labour Organisation, has condemned these laws and called on the federal government and workplace relations minister Julia Gillard to remove them.
On May 1, Tribe was invited to speak at the May Day rally in Sydney, where he received an enormous reception for his commitment. He was also invited to attend the Brisbane march on May 3, and celebrated May Day with 30,000 other workers who attended the march.
After the huge march, Tribe spent time with other workers enjoying the day out with their families. Also enjoying the hospitality of the Queensland union movement, was Kevin Rudd.
Two people enjoying themselves, among 30,000 others. One was the prime minister of Australia, theoretically the most powerful man in the country. The other was a rigger from South Australia who could be in jail after June 18 because he refused to accept an unjust law for which the PM is responsible.
Rudd was enjoying the barbeque and beer that workers like Tribe had paid for. What a bloody disgrace.
During the course of the day, Tribe found himself at the side of a stage where, lo and behold, Rudd was promoting his wares. He was explaining to the audience that it was his government that had treated workers with fairness and the other lot couldn’t be trusted.
We all know the Liberals can’t be trusted, that is why we were responsible for getting rid of John Howard and his ratbags. But for Krudd to suggest his government is treating workers with fairness is a bit rich, particularly if your name happens to be Ark Tribe.
Treating workers and unions fairer than the Howard government is starting from a very low base indeed. It is hardly praiseworthy to use the previous government as the yardstick of fairness.
Tribe decided he would take a closer look and made his way towards the back of the stand, where he found the steps to the stage. He thought he would hang around and speak to the PM; after all, Kev was mixing with the ordinary folk in the union movement.
The talking stopped and the PM made his way down the stairs. Tribe was there to greet him by holding out his hand. As Rudd approached closer, Tribe asked him why he, Ark Tribe, wasn’t receiving the same fairness the PM had just said he was dishing out to all other workers.
Needless to say, before Tribe could greet the PM he was blocked by a couple of large gentlemen, no doubt under instructions to ensure the riffraff didn’t get too close. It’s one thing talking to the masses; it’s an entirely different thing being up close and personal.
But Tribe did discover a flaw in the PM’s makeup. Rudd appears to require a hearing aid, because he was quite oblivious to the fact that Tribe was standing in front of him speaking: Rudd appeared not to hear a word although he was within a hair’s breadth.
But as always, Tribe took it on the chin, because he understands why the PM and others in his government treat him as the invisible man.
How embarrassed must they all feel having to rely on workers like Tribe to get them elected, then deserting those workers just to appease the bosses — the very same scumbags who are determined to make Rudd’s government a oncer. Strange logic, isn’t it?