Fudging workers' rights
Graham Matthews takes former justice Murray Wilcox to task for "fudging" the issue in his October 3 discussion paper on the ABCC (GLW #771). This is perhaps a little harsh — his job is precisely to fudge, rather than judge.
Matthews notes that while Wilcox "politely" points out, repeatedly, the problems with the ABCC, its lack of justification, and its failure to do anything other than intimidate unionists, he doesn't analyse whether such a body is needed in the first place.
However, it would be too much to expect a former Federal Court judge, commissioned to prepare a list of ideas for this "new" division of Fair Work Australia (Rudd-Gillard's "Work Choices-lite"), to step outside his narrow terms of reference and speak the truth.
To his credit, at one point Wilcox even hints that the new specialist division could be remoulded to work to the benefit of building workers, rather than their detriment. This would also sooth the conscience of legal minds concerned at its "discriminatory" powers.
Needless to say, that won't be the case.
Wilcox's suggestion of "neutral" judicial oversight of the interrogation of workers is just as dangerous as the Rudd/Howard consensus on the need for a "tough cop" to beat the unions with.
Like Work Choices, the ABCC and its proposed replacement are intrusive attacks by the state upon the fundamental democratic rights of workers to organise, and should not be tolerated.
Readers should visit the website of the campaign against the ABCC at <http://rightsonsite.org.au>, help spread the word, and support each and every union action to have the ABCC abolished.
Action to curb executive packages
It is heartening that PM Rudd intends to curb excessive executive salaries in finance industries. Several political leaders have condemned this trend in the entire corporate sector but none has done anything about it.
His suggested method of regulation seems impractical though. The first option to succeed may well be to introduce much more steeply progressive income taxes, say, above $100,000. Secondly, legislation to genuinely empower shareholders would help.
Thirdly encouraging broad-based employee share ownership schemes and employee participation in decision-making would create a different, self-regulating enterprise culture.
Extensive research has shown that there is no correlation between performance and remuneration at executive levels. Thus high financial reward does not at all guarantee high performance. The opposite has often been demonstrated.
Would Australian talent migrate to more lucrative countries if their salary packages were starkly reduced? Some perhaps but those with more egalitarian values would stay. We need them here.
Are outrageous salary packages a major cause of the financial upheavals? Not directly perhaps but they are a symptom of the greed that has driven economic rationalism.
Pearl Beach, NSW
@letterhead= Socialist Voices
As an activist in the Marxist section on the labour movement since May, 1943, I am pleased that Alliance Voices has reappeared. I commend the publishers and contributors of this edition.
Socialist Alliance needs a theoretical journal to discuss and debate philosophical concepts and contemporary policies.
In my last letter, I made reference to what was achieved by Communist Party aldermen Wright Ron Maxwell and Mel McCalman, and our only parliamentarian, Fred Paterson. I stated that their success was because they campaigned for the needs of their constituents.
I also mentioned the introduction of pudding week for pensioners during December, where they received a full week's pay for the performance of light duties.
Some comrades may consider this unimportant compared to the larger issue of global warming. However, it was used to illustrate the need to give adequate attention to issues that the average citizen could relate to and appreciate.
The history of the trade union movement establishes the fact that union members are more inclined to consider socialist ideas if their Marxist leaders have won better conditions for them. The same principle applies to locality campaigns.
Strathfield, NSW (Abridged.)