BY CHRIS LATHAM
FREMANTLE — Chris Cain, the recently elected Western Australian secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), spoke at an August 30 Politics in the Pub discussion on defending militant unions against the attacks of federal government.
The public forum, attended by 55 people, was organised by the Socialist Alliance.
Cain, who is a member of the national executive of the Socialist Alliance, explained that the new leadership of the WA branch of the MUA is committed to rebuilding the union. Central to this is "that the rank and file of the union control the direction and carry it out. If this means calling mass meetings on the job then so be it".
The meeting was also addressed by Joe McDonald, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union's Western Australia construction division assistant secretary. He outlined the threat posed to the CFMEU by the recommendations of the royal commission into the building industry.
Cain told the meeting: "Of the 392 findings of [union] misconduct made by the commission, they were all basic issues that building workers confront every day, the right of entry and of organisers going on the job to bargain and fight for better conditions".
McDonald told the meeting that the attitude of the CFMEU to the commission's findings is that "bad laws must be broken... We have several thousand people that are willing to break the law to defend what they have."
Cain said that central to defeating the federal government's attacks on militant unions is solidarity with unions under attack. Referring to the 1998 waterfront dispute, Cain said: "Workers only got back in the gate with the help of unions like the CFMEU and other major unions like the Transport Workers Union".
From Green Left Weekly, September 10, 2003.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.