No-ticket, no-start campaign launched
By Michael Bull
MELBOURNE — On April 21, more than 600 shop stewards and 80 organisers from the Alliance unions — the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen's Association (FEDFA), Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) — met at Trades Hall to discuss the recent attacks on them by the Office of the Employment Advocate.
Over the last few months, the CFMEU has fallen foul of the Employment Advocate over enforcing the no-ticket, no-start policy of the union. It is accused of breaching the Workplace Relations Act when it negotiated with employers and contractors to unionise two construction sites in Melbourne.
CFMEU construction division secretary Martin Kingham told the meeting that the best way to fight attacks on the right of unions to maintain "closed shops" is to ensure that each union member understands the reasons for the closed shop. The maintenance of 100% union coverage in a workplace is to ensure the protection of wages and conditions for the majority of workers and to prevent employers pitting one worker against another, he said.
The stewards, representing up to 40,000 workers, voted unanimously for a motion presented by AMWU Victorian branch assistant secretary Craig Johnston which pledged mutual support of all the Alliance unions should any of them come under attack. Plans to defend these unions include establishing emergency phone trees to support picket lines, fundraising and a cross-union activist committee involving rank and file workers and organisers to plan the campaign.
The meeting also carried a motion condemning the Indonesian-sponsored massacres of East Timorese independence supporters and challenging the Australian government to publicly oppose the violence.
The meeting resolved that the unions should also consider industrial action against the Indonesian government and business, lend support to the May 22 international day of solidarity actions and the Friday night vigils organised by Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor, and organise workplace meetings of speakers and print articles in union journals to raise awareness of the situations in Indonesia and East Timor.