Socialist Alliance condemns violence and smear campaign

Wednesday, December 3, 2003 - 11:00

BY LISA MACDONALD

The November 18 assault on Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) national secretary Doug Cameron has generated a torrent of speculation in the corporate media about who committed the assault and why.

Despite there being no information as to who committed the assault or their motivations, some corporate media accounts have sought to connect the Socialist Alliance to the assault, implying that Socialist Alliance members within the AMWU's militant Workers First caucus may have been "behind" it.

In a media release issued on November 26, Socialist Alliance spokesperson Sue Bolton stated: "The Socialist Alliance unequivocally condemns the use of violence by anyone in the trade union movement to settle differences. We oppose such action because it cannot solve political disputes and serves only to take unions further out of the hands of rank and file members."

She added: "However, the Socialist Alliance condemns equally the attempts to use the assault on Doug Cameron to smear militants in the AMWU and other unions. We call on the media to immediately halt its red-baiting campaign against particular AMWU members, such as the Workers First group in Victoria, whose only 'crime' has been to use legitimate union channels to campaign for a more democratic AMWU in which the rank and file members have a greater say in the direction of the union.

"The consistent pattern of media coverage indicates that there is a political agenda being played out. The media empires of Rupert Murdoch, Kerry Packer, the Kerry Stokes and Fairfax families, and the ABC, all blamed opposition groups within the AMWU for the assault.

"This is consistent with the campaign that has been run by the employers and the government for several years which has attempted to reduce support for militant unionists in Victoria by trying to smear their reputations with unproven accusations of violence."

From Green Left Weekly, December 3, 2003.

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From GLW issue 564