Union secretary to be expelled from Labor?

June 14, 2008

SA Unions secretary Janet Giles may face expulsion from the ALP for giving a speech critical of the ALP state government at a fundraising dinner organised by the Communist Party of Australia (CPA).

According to a June 11 report in the Adelaide Advertiser , senior ALP figures are canvassing support for her expulsion on the grounds of party disloyalty. The information was provided to the newspaper from an anonymous Labor Party source.

Giles's speech expressed SA Unions' opposition to the state government's attacks on WorkCover laws. Attendees of the dinner report that Giles said nothing that she hadn't already stated publicly many times before.

In a February 26 SA Unions media release Giles argued that "[SA Premier] Mike Rann risks being compared to John Howard by workers. He's stripping away their rights in order to appease the business lobby."

The state government recently passed legislation to cut injured workers' payments to 80% of their weekly average earnings after 13 weeks off work, and end payments altogether after 130 weeks regardless of the nature of the injury. SA Unions has organised a campaign against these anti-worker laws with protests mobilising thousands on April 1 and May 3.

The union campaign mirrors an earlier, successful, union campaign to stop the implementation of very similar laws by a Coalition state government in 1995. Then, the ALP opposed any cuts to WorkCover.

According to an article in Green Left Weekly, dated February 15, 1995, the then-opposition leader Rann told an 8000-strong rally that the Labor Party would make a commitment to "vote against every single clause of this bill".

SA CPA state secretary Bob Britton told GLW that the attack on Giles is all about her "leading an effective campaign on WorkCover".

"This is an example of the right-wing smearing of critics for their association with members of the Communist Party who, in turn, have done nothing more than stick up for the interests of workers. It sounds more like the rhetoric of the Cold War than today", Britton concluded.

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