This conference video argues that the Liberal agenda of the Howard years was one of neo-conservatism, adopting the ideologies of Reagan and Thatcher, replacing the hate for communism with the hate for unions. Trade union movement came under attack in the mining, construction and maritime sectors. Industrial relations laws have been bad for workers, and represent the last phase towards world globalisation, removing union law altogether.
The Union’s campaign against Howard’s industrial relations laws were what defeated the Howard government. It was an environment of anti-unionism and intimidation. The unions communicated with the community and made known to the people the dangers to their standard of living from Work Choices. It was not about getting Labor elected, but the ALP is their ally in this cause. The MUA is an organising institution, which confronts the forces of anti-labour and free trade. They have been doing so for a long time now. In 1966, Darwin unionists moved on the plight of the aborigines, helping in their land-rights fight. In 2002, in a Royal Commission into the building industry and the rights of women workers they recognised that women in the workforce is an area for growth in the union industry. In the Patrick dispute, the company sacked the entire union workforce around Australia. The wharfies got support from the American wharfies in LA. The company CSL, used Australian laws in order to not employ Australians. They sacked a crew and replaced it with a Ukrainian workforce.
Part of a collection of short videos presented at the Maritime Union of Australia’s 2008 International Solidarity Conference.
Author: J Bird, 2023