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Rudd gets heavy with "union thug"

ITEM:Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd today demanded and obtained the resignation from the Labor party of maverick trade union boss Dean Mighell.

A taped recording of the Victorian Electrical Trades Union Secretary bragging about obtaining pay rises for workers by threatening strike action emerged today.

What a message them ALP is sending out! Step out of line, embarrass the party, and you're history.

This report fails to mention Mighell's activity at the recent ALP federal conference. (see here and here for example). Nor his activities in initiating a campaign for the right to strike. (see below). My guess is the knives were already sharpened for Mighell since late April.

So a multi millionaire (by default at least) resents the fact that a trade union uses any means necessary -- including "bullshit deals" -- to win gains in wages and conditions for his members.

And as Dean Mighell has said: nothing illegal was done.He pulled a shifty.

I'd be a bit worried if a I was an official in some other union, as, regardless of their present proffered loyalty, they have been party to deals when they stood toe to toe across the table (we'd hope anyway) engineering what tactics they could.

The ALP used the same tact to force George Georges out of the party when he opposed the Australia Card in the late eighties. Force them to resign rather that go to an expulsion. and face the scrutiny.

The other aspect of this exercise is that it exposes what may surely be a bit of a sore point between the trade unions and Labor. And this, folks, is BEFORE an election when the main topic thus far is industrial relations. The longer Howard delays the poll the more opportunities there'll be to expose Labor's hypocrisy on this question.

Thats' the truth isn't it? Contradictions a plenty.

Campaigning for the right to strike

This open letter to the April 27-29 Australian Labor Party national conference protesting against the restrictions on workers’ rights contained in the new ALP industrial relations policy was supported by Socialist Alliance and other militant trade unionists. The letter was distributed to all 400 conference delegates and the media, and was the basis of some sharp media questioning of the ALP leadership. Unfortunately, no amendments to the policy were moved by conference delegates.

Reject Work Choices! Defend the right to strike!

“The right to withdraw labour is the only thing that distinguishes a free worker from the slave.” — Clyde Cameron, labour minister in the 1972-75 ALP federal government.

After Kevin Rudd was elected as federal Labor leader, he promised that a Rudd government would “tear up Work Choices”.

So we were shocked to hear Kevin Rudd announce to the National Press Club on April 17 that a Rudd government would keep key elements in Howard’s Work Choices legislation, in particular the attack on the right to strike and the ban on industry-wide (“pattern”) bargaining.

Rudd uses the rhetoric of “fairness” and “balance” between the interests of employers and employees. But there is no balance in what he has announced.

First, the right to strike for the promotion and protection of workers’ social and economic interests is an internationally recognised human right. Rudd’s proposal that workers would only be allowed to strike during the bargaining period for a new enterprise agreement — and only as a result of a secret ballot run by an external agency — is totally unjust.

Under both Rudd’s and Howard’s IR regimes, it is illegal for workers to respond with industrial action to unfair management actions such as the victimisation of union activists, restructuring of the workplace or unsafe work practices.

Even protected industrial action would not be automatic. Workers could wait weeks for the electoral commission to conduct a secret ballot, giving an employer plenty of time to stockpile goods or contract out work. Employers can also appeal against union applications for secret ballots, possibly preventing workers from even having the right to vote for industrial action during bargaining.

Rudd made no mention of any penalties for employers who lock out workers or sack workers and replace them with cheaper workers. The restrictions are all on the workers’ side. Second, Kevin Rudd says “employees … will not be able to strike in support of an industry-wide agreement”. This means that workers in more weakly organised workplaces who have only gained improvements through industry-wide campaigns will continue as second-class citizens on minimum wages and conditions.

Any union that tries to improve the position of workers in such workplaces will be threatened with penalties — like Work Choices. This too is a blatant breach of international labour standards.

Kevin Rudd is not “tearing up” Work Choices. He is creating Work Choices Lite.

We therefore reject the industrial relations policy announced by Kevin Rudd at the National Press Club and call on ALP conference delegates to vote against Rudd’s IR policy and draft an IR policy which enshrines the right to strike and restores all workers’ rights which were stripped away under Work Choices and the Workplace Relations Act.

Signatories (positions for purpose of identification only):

Dean Mighell, secretary, southern states branch, Electrical division, Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union.
Chris Cain, Western Australian branch secretary, Maritime Union of Australia.
Jamie Doughney, Victorian state president, National Tertiary Education Union.
Jim Casey, senior vice-president, Fire Brigade Employees Union.
Joan Doyle, Victorian branch secretary, Postal and Telecommunications Group, Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union.
Ian Bray, Western Australian assistant branch secretary, Maritime Union of Australia.
Greg Hardy, Victorian secretary, mining and energy division, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.
Craig Johnston, former Victorian state secretary, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.
Chris White, former secretary, United Trades and Labour Council (South Australia), now Canberra-based labour law researcher.
Tim Gooden, secretary, Geelong Trades Hall Council.
Margaret Donehue, president, South West Trades and Labour Council.
John Parker, secretary, Gippsland Trades and Labour Council
Susan Price, president, University of NSW branch, National Tertiary Education Union.
Andrew Hall, section secretary, Electoral and Employment Regulation Section, national councillor, Community and Public Sector Union.
Jeremy Smith, president, University of Ballarat branch, National Tertiary Education Union.
Carol Williams, president, Monash University branch, National Tertiary Education Union.

For more information, phone Tim Gooden on 0438 088 112.

From: Comment & Analysis, Green Left Weekly issue #708 9 May 2007.

2 Com:

skywalker | May 31, 2007

So its 'Thuggery' that had Dean Mighell expelled from the ALP. Since when is engaging in collective bargaining and threatening the withdrawal of labor 'thuggery'? I thought that these were rights that are guarenteed under ILO conventions and are dear to every worker across this planet. What Does the ALP stand for that Mr Rudd leads? is it ANOTHER LIBERAL PARTY?

For a party that is not supported by the corporate $ and truely represents the workers, the subbies,students, social security recipients, migrants, gay rights, and the environment join Socialist Alliance today!

Peter Boyle | May 31, 2007

Wayne Swan says Dean Mighell should "wash his mouth out"! Labor and Coalition pollies, "responsible" union leaders and corporate CEOs don't use foul language at meetings , do they???

Well anyone who f***ing believes that must have f***ing rocks in their f***ing heads, I reckon. But what I do find believable is that Swan, Rudd, Gillard & the like DON'T attack the bosses at the meetings they address, not like that foul-mouthed Mighell.

A crikey.com reader hit the nail on the head with this comment (credit to Sol Salbe for spotting it):

"Guys like Allan Moss [the Macquarie Bank CEO who paid himself $33.5 million last year] extract millions from businesses for themselves and thousands of stockholders and they're called savvy business builders.

"Guys like Dean Mighell extract millions from businesses for thousands of union members and they're called repugnant standover men and thugs."

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