Media attacks union solidarity

Issue 

BY LIAM MITCHELL

SYDNEY — Spearheaded by the Sydney Morning Herald, the corporate media has launched an attack on the display of union solidarity which helped 40 strikers at the Morris McMahon can manufacturing plant win their dispute.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union construction division national secretary John Sutton has been accused by the media of "vandalism" and "violence".

On May 19, 100 people joined the picket line outside the Morris McMahon factory. They stood in front of the factory gates as managers started arriving in their cars. The managers drove recklessly into the picketers.

Each of the three management cars was surrounded by justifiably angry picketers. In the heated exchange that followed, Sutton was filmed by a security camera spitting at one car and pouring a cup of tea on another.

The Sydney Morning Herald obtained a copy of the video and alleged on July 1 that it showed Sutton kicking a manager's car. The next day, this allegation was retailed by all the rest of the corporate media. No mention was made in the media reports of the managers' illegal use of their motor vehicles.

An article in the July 4 SMH alleged that other union officials at the May 19 picket had not done anything to "restrain" Sutton. The article mentioned Australian Manufacturing Workers Union officials Brian Beer, Tim Ayers and Paul Bastian, although it said that "after Mr Sutton vandalised company cars, Mr Bastion [sic] used a loud hailer to remind protesters to observe the terms of the picket".

The media attacks on Sutton and other unionists involved in the May 19 incident are nothing but an attempt to discredit union solidarity and effective picketing.

The SMH has called for Sutton's resignation over the incident. The entire union movement should reject this call.

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