Sue Bolton

Organisers from the Philippines’ biggest left trade union centre, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP — Solidarity of Filipino Workers) spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Sue Bolton about the repression that they encounter from the state and their efforts to unify left-wing trade unions.

Many workers and unions in Australia and other imperialist countries have been involved in campaigns to stop jobs from being sent offshore to Third World countries. Unions in the rich countries usually think that this is an issue that only affects them, but the off-shoring of jobs to other countries, or to “free trade zones”, heavily impacts on workers in Third World countries, as capitalists try to drive workers’ wages and conditions ever lower.

Workers from across Melbourne have thrown their support behind National Union of Workers (NUW) members who are on strike at Preston Motors in Campbellfield.

The federal Coalition, some state Labor governments and the corporate media have been justifying racist policies by claiming they are defending women’s rights. This argument has been one of several “justifications” for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and for why we should all be worried about refugee arrivals.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) voted to affiliate to the ALP at the union’s March 2-4 national governing council meeting. The enabling motion, heavily amended during the course of the meeting, passed by 42 votes to 12.

The revolutionary left in the Philippines has deep roots in the mass movement but its influence has been weakened by disunity. The left began overcoming these divisions through a May 2005 Democratic Left Conference.

Since the Howard Coalition government was elected in 1996 record numbers of women have entered parliament, yet women’s rights are under massive attack without so much as a murmur of opposition from the female Coalition MPs and very little outcry from the ALP.

In her 1993 book, The End of Equality?, Anne Summers admits to being puzzled by the Howard government’s concern about Australia’s low birth rate and its call for women to reproduce more while, at the same time, it refuses to provide inexpensive and quality childcare to help this happen.

Despite having won formal equality, the lack of an organised women’s movement means that the Howard government has been able to take back a lot of the reforms won as a result of the struggles of the 1970s and 1980s. No reform is permanent under capitalism, and without a strong movement that mobilises to defend and expand reforms to improve women’s lives, the capitalist class can easily remove, or knobble, the gains that have been won.

Many Australians would assume that death squads, disappearances, harassment by the military, violent dispersal of demonstrations and political prisoners were features of the Philippines that vanished when Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorship was overthrown in 1986.

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