BY SEAN MARTIN-IVERSON
PERTH On July 6, 90 people at a Socialist Alliance seminar discussed issues facing unionists today, including refugees, internationalism and fighting anti-worker attacks.
The highlight of the event was a session addressed by UnionsWA assistant secretary Dave Robinson, Greens WA MLC Dee Margetts, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) Victorian secretary Craig Johnston, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) WA secretary Kevin Reynolds, and maritime union activist Chris Cain.
Johnston outlined the industrial campaigns which had won Victorian AMWU members some of the best conditions in the country. He proudly declared the willingness of his union to "break bad laws".
Reynolds offered his union's support to Johnston and other AMWU leaders currently facing charges arising out of the Johnston Tiles dispute and condemned the federal government's royal commission into the building industry.
Robinson conceded that the ALP leadership is guilty of "failing to stand up and act in workers' interests". However, pointing to "important change" at the ALP state conference, he argued that change in the party would "be brought about from within".
Margetts pointed out that the Greens' attempts to amend punitive industrial relations legislation was often not supported by the ALP.
"Some people may argue that you can't bag the Labor Party to much", Cain argued. "Well too bad. It deserves everything it gets from the working class and more."
Cain, who is a member of the Socialist Alliance, said that the ALP had laid the groundwork for the Liberals' attacks on unions through the Prices and Incomes Accord, the smashing of the pilots' union, the deregistration of the BLF and privatisation. He urged those present to join the Socialist Alliance as a pro-worker alternative to the ALP.
Some of the talks presented at the seminar will be printed in coming issues of Green Left Weekly.
From Green Left Weekly, July 10, 2002.
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