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All unions should back the Greens

by Socialist Worker

Enough is enough. That is the message coming from thousands of working people across the country about WorkChoices. There is no doubt that Howard is spooked by the overwhelmingly mood against him. Tragically Labor is so concerned to keep big business onside that it has promised to keep important parts of the legislation.

These include the ban on the right to strike and the right of unions to enter workplaces

All unions should back the GreensThis is ridiculous-how can unions survive, let alone prosper, if they cannot enter workplaces to talk to members?

Rather than cosy up to the bosses, Labor should listen to the findings of a new report co-funded by Unions NSW and a grant from the government's Australian Research Council.

The Australia@Work report is based on a survey of 8343 people. It found that 16 months into the WorkChoices legislation, low-skilled workers on AWA individual contracts earn on average $100 less than workers on collective agreements.

"Employees in [low-skill] occupations, for example, labourers and sales assistants, are receiving worse outcomes, in terms of pay and hours, under AWAs," according to report co-author Brigid Van Wanrooy.

"It appears that AWAs are being used as a tool for reducing employees' conditions to the statutory minima."

And WorkChoices is hurting all workers-not just the 6 per cent on AWAs. A recent report from the Workplace Research Centre in Sydney showed that since its introduction, Saturday penalty rates were abolished in 76 per cent of collective agreements, Sunday penalties in 71 per cent, overtime rates in 68 per cent and public holiday rates in 60 per cent of agreements.

WorkChoices is the sharp end of neo-liberal globalisation, a process that has been undermining our jobs and conditions for years. According to the Australia@Work report, a quarter of us work over 50 hours a week-one of the highest levels among developed nations.

Over half surveyed agreed that "more and more is expected of me for the same pay". The level of unpaid overtime is massive. The percentage of workers who report working over 50 hours is more than double the percentage who report being paid for these hours. This is having an especially bad effect on working women with children.

More and more people want unions to offer some protection. Although the anti-union onslaught from the bosses, the government and the media has driven union density down to 22 per cent of the workforce, a further one in ten workers want to be in a union.

That's another 820,000 workers or a further 10 per cent potential density. A further 550,000 workers are "unsure" about joining a union-in other words, they are unconvinced, but not hostile. The report also found that on average union members earn higher wages.

Predictably, the Liberals ridiculed the report's authors. But it is far more worrying that Kevin Rudd seems to share the Liberals' passionate hatred of unions. Back in June he told union leaders unhappy with his policies to "go jump in a lake".

Captive to the lure of big business, he can't bring himself to acknowledge the blindingly obvious-that the union movement's response to WorkChoices (the Your Rights at Work campaign) has driven Labor to brink of an election victory.

We need to vote out the Howard government-but we can and must send a powerful message of protest to the Labor Party.

Vote Green

The best way to do this is to vote 1 Greens, 2 Labor. The Greens have the best IR policy by a long way. The Greens are committed to collective bargaining, to restoring the right of entry and the right to strike, to scrapping AWAs in their entirety as well as abolishing the anti-union Building Industry Commission (ABCC).

Preferencing Labor means we will help get rid of the Howard government. But voting Green first sends a clear message that we don't trust Labor.

The Greens have so far received some support for their policies from the Electrical Trades Union, the Firefighters Union, Independent Teachers Union and the Finance Sector Union.

Mostly this has meant pledging support for the Senate campaign in the hope that the Greens can capture the balance of power in the upper house.

But we have to go much further than this. All unions should support the Greens across the board-in the lower house as well as the upper house.

The more union support the Greens get at this election, the stronger the union movement and the progressive left will be when the election campaign is over.

12 Com:

Dave Riley | October 09, 2007

In the same edition of SW we are told Why the Leninist party still matters. We have here at LeftClick asked the SW comrades to explain their total disregard for the actual existence of the Socialist Alliance in this election but note nothing whatsoever has been forthcoming...except this racheting enthusiasm to bang the Greens drum.

We have, in effect, called them out on a lie...

We also note that the Socialist Alliance has been given support from the unions too in regard to the approaching federal election and could say that the SA has many more credits in industrial matters than the Greens could ever hope to aspire to...

This shift toward the SA is still a very small but very significant change in the unions long term adherence to the ALP at election time. We note that some trade unions are not as blind, sectarian nor as myopic as Socialist Worker prefers to now be.

But let's not get caught up in facts. Facts only obscures the rather electoralist and schematic world Socialist Worker prefers to live in.

Brad. | October 09, 2007

I have to wonder that with politics like this that the International Socialist Organisation is set for quick inclusion as a historical footnote.

I looked and cannot see how a vote for the Greens will lead to a" stronger union movement" and " progressive left" after the poll. How better are the unions and the 'progressive left' in Sydney with its many Greens councillors?

Breaking the hold of social democracy is very important -- but we could just as well say in the UK that it should be done by The Green Party there rather than more radical formations like Respect.

It's a darstardly cop out that misrepresents the sort of work and struggle that has to be invested if we are indeed to proceed beyond Labor.

We know that we can vote Howard out. The question is what sort of struggle perspective can we put in place against Labor or, in fact, the Rudd capitalist government we'll get.

On that point the Greens have nothing to offer us. And on the point SW is quiet.

RedRhonda | October 09, 2007

The ISO lies and they klnow they lie.Whats' with this outfit?

AN | October 09, 2007

interesting aspect for me with this is that it makes no difference to the outcome of the election what thr ISO think.

Their call for a vote for the Green might persuade ten maybe twenty people at most to change their voting intentions??

But it does make a difference to their relations with other people on the left - and what they are clearly doing is seeking to put clear water between themselves and the idea of any left regroupment, while simulataneouls pitching their stall out to attract a left in the Grren party that pareheps doesn't even exist (or at least not in the way they understand it)

Dave Riley | October 10, 2007

AN is right. The ISO (and Socialist Alternative) are dammed of they do and dammed if they don't because it hinges on the whole question of left regroupment.

That's the gorilla in the room: the stark either/or.

Recognizing the Socialist Alliance in any way only serves to add grist to the possibility , potential and dynamic of left regroupment. And the ISO(& SAlt) have passed on that.

So we get this dishonesty.

The irony is that both outfits only 'discovered' the Greens over the past 4 years as they had remained loyal to the workerist interpretations of the ALP here -- ie: a Laborist view --when the whole alternative electoral dynamic has been growing here for 24 years.

I was handing out for the Greens in alliance with them over 16 years ago. -- and in time you get to comprehend their measure. People join the Socialist Alliance from the Greens. People join the SA who are still in the the Greens --and these outfits are cozying up to a bit of a phantom I fear.

That said, the catalyst that comes into play is the fact that in Victoria especially, unions like the ETU, have backed the Greens and donated to them. So not to break with a Laborist view would make the ISO look pretty darn silly when they are passed on the left by Dean Mighell (ETU Vic secretary)and co .

So we get this crude panacea advocacy falsely grounded on a few electoral shenanigans. This is a dangerous game that both have signed on to, because the ongoing debate more broadly is that you don't need the left to regroup; you don't need Marxian type parties..you don't even need socialism. All you need is what is on offer from the Greens --a very electoralist bandwagon with progressive policies.

So no matter what alliances can be fostered with the Greens there is not a consistent or viable left green current within the Greens, let alone a consciously socialist one...not yet, anyway. While there are many activists in the Greens, that buoyancy is very patchy around the country--and we know that because the SA spends a lot of energy trying to involve and engage the Greens in campaigns which are extra parliamentary.

And the ISO cannot en masse join the Greens (as they can the SA)as such formations are proscribed by the Greens! So if the Greens are where it's all supposed to be at (and this is what SW is saying in this article)-- why bother with plugging away at the program for the ISO or SAlt? Why not cut loose and join the Greens?

Could the Greens be the crucible for a remaking of the Australian left and a re-assertion of the trade union movement? Anything is possible and there are some Marxian exers in the Greens who have been saying just that for the past 8 years at least.

But don't hold your breath primarily, I guess, because the Greens are so acutely electoralist. Thats' their core and overwhelming strategy --and trade unions and most other campaigns are always going to be better served by what's on offer from outfits & networks further left.

Trade unionists who joined the Greens --such as Mighell --later left and, at least for the moment, an industrial coming together is not happening inside the Greens, despite the fact that "the Greens have the best IR policy by a long way." (What? Even better than the SAs?)

So as AN writes the ISO are indeed" pitching their stall out to attract a left in the Green party that perhaps doesn't even exist."

skywalker | October 10, 2007

All workers should vote Greens - But only where there is no socialist standing. I will vote Greens, but would vote for any socialist group first - yes even the ISO! if they had a candidate in Lowe.

I remember that Sue Jonston, an ISO member once stood for Graynler. Why are they not standing candidates now?

In the coming elections,Socialist Alliance is represented in QLD by Sam Watson and excellent hard working candidate fighting for Indigenous Rights. In NSW we have the legendary face of the recent anit - APEC rally, Alex Bainbridge. A person well versed in the struggle on the streets, and in the media, for workers, environment, latin american solidarity, civil liberties, anti- capitalism, Palestine, anti-war and the list goes on.

I expect that we shall also see the Socialist Party of Steven Jolly standing in Melbourne electorates. There may well be other socialist groupings standing elsewhere too.

One thing I will say for the one who wants us to vote Green, is that he clearly understands the nature of the ALP beast. Rudd's ALP, unlike the Greens, voted for the Australian Building Construction Commission and its subsequent anti-worker legislation, is for the destruction of our native trees, for uranium mining, coal exportation, the war in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and the recent racist revolations of Andrew's no-African immigration policy.

Anonymous | October 10, 2007


There is an idea that members of the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP), as affiliates of the Queensland Green Network (QGN), are proposing. It is that an national “Alliance” and not a Green Party is the way to go. The DSP tell people how wonderful the Green Alliance campaign in Brisbane was, and how good the QGN is. But there was discontent amongst green activists in QGN who thought they were being manipulated by the DSP. The DSP's constitution states

-1>“Article 4. Paragraph 2. Members of the party shall have the following obligations: (a) To be loyal to the aims of the party, to reject any conflicting political loyalty, to place all their political activity under the direction of the party, and to engage in the work of the party to the best of their ability.”0>

It is hard for me to see how any organisation with this constitution can honestly participate within a grassroots democracy without making a mockery of it for the other people involved. How can non-DSP people expect to use consensus when there is a disciplined block of DSP members arguing one line and unwilling to compromise or change their position for the benefit of the group?

To me participatory democracy is not where some people dominate discussion at the expense of others. It is where all people contribute equally and not only in relation to a timeframe. Contributing equally means not having dogmatic ideas or being bound to decisions made by other organisations but is when each person respects the others ideas. It does mean willingly being able to modify your ideas with respect to what has been said at the meeting. I feel a true grassroots participatory democracy does away with the patriarchal system of individual competitiveness which simple majority voting is associated and replaces it with a system, as the ecofeminists may describe it, of love and caring for the group.

I think the question should be asked now. How can an organisation who has a constitution stating the members must be loyal to the aims of the DSP, reject any conflicting party loyalty and place their political activity under the direction of the DSP be trusted to follow the direction of an “Alliance” if they were elected to parliament? An “Alliance” in the future with the DSP would be pointless because it would not benefit the “Alliance” only the aims of the DSP. Therefore the QGN preferred model of including a proscription clause in the constitution of a national Green Party is a sensible and one which I support.

PS: The May 29 issue in Write On you printed I. Murrell with three others when the signature was clearly L. Murrell. I think in the pursuit of the truth you should print a correction.
Ian Murrell
Arana Hills Qld

Dave Riley | October 10, 2007

I'm not sure if in the last comment we are being asked to deal with the organ grinder or the monkey. So I'd ask for some clarification as to the point of the exercise.Is there a point to the dredging up of a letter to the editor 15 years ago on the topic of the Qld Green Network --a precursor to the formation of the Qld Greens.

I should point out to make the obscurity less obscure that in the early months of 1991 the March election campaign for Brisbane City Council was addressed by a very broad coalition of forces .

The Green Alliance -- a broad alliance of individual activists from most of the city's environmental groups, the Rainbow Alliance, the Australian Democrats, Democratic Socialist Party, Socialist Party of Australia -- contested the March 23 Brisbane City Council elections. It's main facilitator and organiser was a DSP member -- Maurice Sibelle.

Green Alliance lord mayoral candidate was Drew Hutton (a key figure in the Rainbow Alliance --and later the Qld Greens).

To follow on, a Green Party with proscription clauses against groups like the DSP was formed as the national format for the Greens that followed was decided in the following period.

This differs greatly from the SA as the Socialist Alliance has no proscription clauses governing membership either as to individual or organisational affiliation. Thats' why some of its members are also members of the Greens and the ALP.

As for the furphy of the alleged conflict of loyalty -- I think you'll find that DSP membership does not resolve "conflicting loyalty" as caricatured here.

Sue Bolton | October 11, 2007

From GLW list From I don't think unionists who are disillusioned with Labor should only consider the Greens. People should consider all of the parties which have consistently opposed Work Choices. Unionists should also be considering Socialist Alliance, especially as Socialist Alliance has been extremely active in building the anti-Work Choices campaign.

There needs to be a tie between the electoral alternative to the left of Labor and the parties which are playing an active role in building the union campaign. That's why I think it s critically important to support Socialist Alliance in the elections. It's also the reason that four union state branches are giving donations to the Socialist Alliance election campaign.

The elections won't solve the issue of Work Choices. We don't want to give Howard a mandate for keeping Work Choices, but we also know that a Rudd government will keep most of Work Choices. We will need acitivist
networks in the unions after the elections to keep the fight against Work Choices or Work Choices Lite going.

However, Socialist Alliance has a principled preference policy. We will be giving our 2nd preference to the Greens, then Labor before Liberal..

Anonymous | October 11, 2007

  In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "ronnierocketpants" wrote:

When this next "socialist election campaign" fails - as it; inevitably will- lets have an open conference of the left to see ; about genuine collaboration. Not just the disintegrating Socialist Alliance, but successful groups like SP, Socialist Alternative, the Greens along with the Socialist Alliances off-shoots, "Labor
Tribune" and Jorge Jorquera's group. -- Ronnie Rocketpants

Well there, Ronnie,despite your flaming hatreds, rabid spitefulness and dedicated trolling you seem to have drifted away from the ALP camp to which you were so avowedly loyal. Whats' the matter, Ruddism too
much for you to swallow?

Poor snookums...

The ISO is allowed to say what they like in regard to the Greens & this election. At stake is why?

No explanation is forthcoming -- not even one as smug as yours. They could say: that the SA is irrelevant and that it reflects nothing on the political landscape. But then they'd have to be frank in front of the SA membership and its networks to distance themselves like that.So what do they say to them:leave the SA and join the Greens?

Should they say that perhaps? Wrong way/Go back?

But they don't say that. Nor does SAlt who have adopted the same line.

They could say that they prefer workers to sign on with Greens politics rather than the socialistic too far left platform of the SA. After all the article says that the best IR policy is owned by the Greens.

The very best policy? Of course.And the best environment policy? I suppose the Greens own that one too...or do they?

Thinking that there is an audience for their politics in the Greens they could instead be thinking that the way to get a hearing there is to snuggle up to that. Thats' a reasonable approach, isn't it? But they don't share that view with us either. They want to be seen, nonetheless, as the gang who recruits the trade  unions to the Greens.

[So are they also asking the unions to DISAFFILiATE from the ALP? Last time that was mentioned in cooee of the ISO they got mightily upset.You'll also recall that the major objection the ISO expressed against the Alliance was that it was too hard in its criticism and caricaturisation of the ALP!]

One can only assume that the Greens can and will call on both outfits to help hand out on polling day. Imagine the sight: after thirty years of propagandizing for socialism, members of both organisations (despite their separate existence) can be seen, side by side, at your local church hall,in Newtown, Brunswick, etc on polling day-- calling together, in one shared voice, on local working people to vote for the Greens.

And who said there's no unity on the left? Or that this country's surfeit of state cap outfits cannot get back together?

As for your open conference notion -- by all means, Ronnie Pocketpants -- get cracking and start pulling it together.Excellent idea! May even happen--again!-- without your input. The SA helped organise one back in 2006 on trade unionism and another the year before with the Greens speaking & a few significant trade unionists-- the Fight Back Conference. The SP were there, the ISO, The Jorqueras, etc. There's another all in conference next weekend in Melbourne too by the way--with an open rostrum system with organisation handled by folk from the SA and the Jorqueras plus sundries.

You really should get out more. Go visit these things to see if the collaboration is genuine enough even for you.

As for expecting the ISO to give free advertising -- I don't think the reach of SW is such that we'd have to worry about that opportunity being missed.At stake is the attitude of these outfits to regroupment and "left unity' -- or indeed any collective socialist project. And in effect, both SAlt and the ISO herein announce that they are very
definitely out of the regroupment business and into something else.

Thats' the point of the exercise in case you haven't noticed.

We can only wish them well but we do wonder what they are thinking in way of a political rationale as for the rest of us the switch is a touch confusing. Allowed. Even something to support -- but confusing nonetheless and a please explain would be appreciated.

All we want to know is why they think trade unions should NOT back the Socialist Alliance.

Is that such a big ask?

If they could only be as frank as you, Ronnie Pocketpants --albeit a touch more politically sophisticated (as Ronnie, dear boy, you lack a little something in that department)-- we'd all be as happy as can be.

dave riley

Anonymous | October 11, 2007


"" In the same edition of SW we are told Why the Leninist
> party still matters. We have here at LeftClick asked the SW
> to explain their total disregard for the actual existence of the
> Socialist Alliance in this election but note nothing whatsoever has
> been forthcoming""

'Hell hath no fury like a political party scorned'.

Come on Dave, you spend years screaming "sectarian", "opponents of
greater intervention" and all sorts of abuse at the ISO, while they
were in the Socialist Alliance and expect them to give you free
advertising now?

When this next "socialist election campaign" fails - as it
inevitably will- lets have an open conference of the left to see
about genuine collaboration. Not just the disintegrating Socialist
Alliance, but successful groups like SP, Socialist Alternative, the
Greens along with the Socialist Alliances off-shoots, "Labor
Tribune" and Jorge Jorquera's group.

Ronnie Rocketpants

Dave Riley | October 15, 2007

No one can ever say that the very rocky road to left regroupment ain't a hard road to follow.When the Scottish Socialist Alliance was formed (precursor to the SSP) it was engendered with a major split in the CWI.

Here in Australia during the period of the SA's history there have been splits (in the ISO) and for the past two years, major factional disputation in the DSP.

The SSP recently suffered a brutal split in part driven by factionalism by those who opposed the project and now the SWP is dealing with some fallout from Respect ...so without adopting sides I gotta say that any far left grouping has to be wary of negotiating this particular party building tactic.

Nonetheless I think the phenomenon of these projects is very real such that coming up to this poll on November 24 the major issue , at least on the far left, is what sort of tactical alternative TO THE ALP do we primarily support?

And that issue is not going to magically evaporate on November 25th.

Nonetheless,the positions adopted by SAlt and the ISO -- of supporting the Greens and totally ignoring the existence of any socialist election campaign -- formally announces the closure of any prospect of regrouping the far left orgs.

So that period of the Socialist Alliance's history where "left unity" was thought to comprise the groupuscules getting together is for the moment, past tense. It wasn't really on the cards, but there were some who sentimentally thought it could occur.

So you've had your onions, folks.

I also point out that in New Zealand where there has been a succession of regroupment projects on the left going back 15 years, the RAM alliance did very well at the Auckland poll this last weekend

The fact that the Socialist Alliance has survived and consolidated despite the exit of most of its socialist affiliates suggests that something viable and concrete is at stake in regard to projects like this.

It remains to be seen how well it will perform at the November 24th poll. The Greens are saying they expect to do the best ever -- but I'm concerned that the alternative vote may be down or be contained a lot by the rush to use Labor to vote out Howard.

Last weekend's Brisbane Central by election offers mixed messages in that regard*

The Greens candidate candidly urged people to vote for her because she wasn't a trade unionist(as Grace Grace is) and could be as conservative as any Liberal would want.[Someone should have reminded her that the Greens are chasing trade union support this election!]

So while we'll have to put up with a bitter election campaign between the majors , if you want to monitor or engage with what the SA is doing in regard to same, check out the SA election campaign forums:


And if you'd like to volunteer to help out with the SA campaign, go here:

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