ETU leader: 'Put unions before the ALP'

Premier Anna Bligh's push to privatise Queensland's public assets is just how former National Party premier Joh Bjelke Petersen ruled Queensland said state secretary of the Electrical Trades Union, Peter Simpson.

The ETU is committed to fighting the privatisation plans. Yet on June 7 other sections of the ALP's left faction abstained from a vote at the ALP state conference on the plans.

Anna Bligh is also a member of the left faction.

"When I got up to speak on the left side of the room", Simpson told Green Left Weekly, "there were a lot of empty seats. We could have rolled the resolution."

The June 10 Courier Mail said delegates from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (headed by ALP state president Andrew Dettmer), the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union, and the Community and Public Sector Union all had delegates missing for the crucial vote.

Simpson believes that union leaders who are also in the ALP have to be clear that their first loyalty is to the workers they represent.

"There has to be a clear acknowledgement that the trade union movement and trade union members come first. When I was asked by media if I'm an ALP member, I answered that first and foremost I'm a proud ETU member."

The ETU has disaffiliated from the ALP's left faction.

Simpson supports the formation of a "Your Rights At Work" style campaign to oppose the privatisation plan.

"We need to speak to all our members, to take the campaign out to the regions where many jobs are under threat, and to plan the next steps in the campaign."

[On June 27, Simpson will speak at a forum titled "Green jobs, not privatisation" at the Brisbane Activist Centre. See calendar on page 23 for details].

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