Sue Bull

I’ve been a Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) member for 15 years and I cannot remember a time when the union was not portrayed as a pack of gangster-like thugs, who standover "innocent" bosses.

Somehow the nature of a tough, multi-billion dollar industry with a history of being the most dangerous in the country always gets lost in the propaganda.

So imagine my delight, along with tens of thousands of other CFMEU members, when blackmail charges against union officials John Setka and Shaun Reardon were dropped on May 16.

I awoke this morning to Radio National telling me that United States President Donald Trump could be in line for a Nobel Peace Prize.

What the … is black white? Had I awoken in a dystopian parallel universe?

Last week, the creep was bombing Syria. This week he’s the world’s greatest peacemaker and British bookies are slashing the odds on Trump and Kim Jong-un getting a Nobel Prize!

Are you sick to death of the endless debate about whether odious Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce has a right to privacy? 

Of course some of that debate has now veered into thoughtful comparisons of how a misogynistic press “pawed” over the private lives of female politicians, such as Julia Gillard and Cheryl Kernot. But generally it remains fixated on whether public figures have a right to keep their private lives private.

“So, how come the left is so divided?”, we get asked routinely. After a conversation in which we try to put 150 years of struggle into its historical context, they inevitably respond with: “Yes, but don’t you think you’d be able to fight the right better if you were bigger and stronger?”

The answer is yes!

Tony Abbott was elected in 2013 on the “promise” that the Coalition’s proposed industrial relations legislation, Work Choices, was “dead, buried and cremated”.

Of course, few workers genuinely believed that an incoming Coalition government would keep its word. Certainly, construction workers knew it was only a matter of time before they were in the firing line.

More than 70 workers at Visy’s Dandenong plant voted on August 7 to maintain a peaceful picket and not return to work after an Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) delegate was sacked on August 4 for organising “illegal industrial action”.

The workers, all members of the AMWU, had become increasingly angered by a series of provocative actions taken by Visy management in the weeks before the delegate was sacked.

Thousands of jobs are once against at risk in Australia's shrinking steel industry as Arrium, the company that owns the steelworks in Whyalla, South Australia, announced it was having difficulty servicing its more than $2 billion loan. The company wants the government to bail it out and that seems to be the only “solution” that the union movement and the major parties can imagine. But will a bailout save jobs or even save what is left of the steel industry in Australia? The historical record suggests otherwise.
In all the media hype about Malcolm Turnbull's recalling of parliament in April and talk of a double dissolution election, it is easy to lose sight of the “trigger” — the Australian Building and Construction Commission bill (ABCC bill). I recently heard an ABC Radio National commentator talking about the use of the ABCC bill as the trigger. She said words to the effect that most people would be in favour of cleaning up construction unions as only 11% of workers are in unions now. So it was considered to be a winner for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Ok, who didn’t cheer when they heard that Tony Abbott might be dumped as Prime Minister? And then before the reality that nothing had really changed sank in, who didn’t cheer when he actually was dumped? Yes, you spoil sports out there, I know that we have just switched captains on a leaky boat — appropriate metaphor don’t you think — and the boat hasn’t actually changed. But you have to admit that seeing Abbott’s humiliation was enjoyable.
Socialist Alliance members in Geelong have been victims of a vicious, post-election smear campaign. Federal police are investigating a Facebook page that called for the assassination of PM-elect Tony Abbott. The creator of the page has not been identified, but they claimed an association with the Geelong branch of the Socialist Alliance and appeared to be posting from Geelong Trades Hall, where Socialist Alliance has its office.

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