Time to cut union funding to ALP

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Kevin Rudd's decision to convene a special ALP national executive meeting to expel Joe McDonald marks a new high tide of anti-unionism in the so-called party of the unions. The ACTU, and unions like the CFMEU, should cut funding to Labor if its attacks on unionists don't stop.

What exactly was McDonald's crime? He swore at a manager from a building company that was using the anti-union police force of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) to reduce the CFMEU's ability to monitor health and safety in a dangerous industry. For his pains, he gets thrown out of the ALP.

This scandal has happened under anti-worker legislation which the ALP is formally committed to repeal, but which Rudd and Labor's workplace relations spokesperson Julia Gillard now say they will "phase out".

It was impossible to defend people's rights at work without breaking anti-union laws, especially laws as draconian as those that set up the ABCC, which even eliminate the right to silence.

The Rudd-Gillard leadership's surrender over industrial relations isn't just cowardly and hypocritical, it's also plain stupid from the point of view of winning the coming federal election. Every time Rudd tries to prove he's as tough on "union thugs" as workplace relations minister Joe Hockey and PM John Howard, he invites those scoundrels to intensify their attack on Labor's IR policies. As a result, the Coalition, which was put on the ropes by the Your Rights at Work campaign, could even make a comeback.

The ACTU and unions such as the CFMEU should demand that Rudd and Gillard stop their union-bashing drivel that just helps the Coalition. They should redistribute union election funding away from the ALP towards those parties with a principled pro-worker and pro-union stance. They should also decide to organise another massive national day of protest against Work Choices that also demands that Rudd and Gillard commit to getting rid of Howard's vile AWAs and the ABCC.

[Dick Nichols is the national convener of the Socialist Alliance.]

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