DRIVE THE EXTREME RACISTS OUT OF MARRICKVILLE!

02052014UNION CONTINGENTS UNITED WITH ABORIGINAL PEOPLE, LEFTISTS & “ETHNIC” COMMUNITIES CAN GET THE JOB DONE JUST LIKE ON MAY 2ND IN BRISBANE!

DRIVE THE EXTREME RACISTS OUT OF MARRICKVILLE

22 July – Sinister forces are trying to infect society with a dangerous disease. The disease of fascism. On July 26th in Sydney two extreme white supremacist groups are planning provocations aimed at inciting racist violence. Firstly, at 11am the Freedom Party of Australia plan to picket outside a Woolworths store in Marrickville in opposition to Woolworths putting “Happy Ramadan” signs on some stores as a marketing method. This protest by the fascists has nothing to do with supporting secularism and everything to do with whipping up hatred against Muslims, Arabs, North Africans and South Asians. Thus, the call for the fascist demonstration features inciteful and ridiculous claims that celebrating Ramadan is equivalent to supporting terrorism, paedophilia and world domination by Muslims. Then at 1:30pm, the Australia First Party, led by former Australia Nazi party activist Jim Saleam, plan to hold a forum at their Tempe bunker titled, “Overseas Students Go Home.” This group no doubt hopes to stir up a wave of violent assaults and even murder of Indian and Chinese students like the horrific wave that swept Australia in the 2009-10 period. The two fascist events on July 26th are aimed at recruiting to and organizing for racist violence. They present an immediate danger to Asians, Arabs,

Africans, Aboriginal people and other non-white people. These events are also an immediate threat to the interests of the entire working class. The extreme racism that they will pour into society is absolute poison to workers’ unity – the unity without which workers cannot organise to fight for their rights against exploiting bosses. Thankfully, left-wing autonomous-minded activists around the Black Rose library have taken the worthy initiative of calling for a counter-action against the July 26th fascist provocations. They are calling for people to gather at 11am outside the Woolworths at 463 Illawara Rd, Marrickville to stop the disgusting anti-Muslim action by the “Freedom Party.” After that provocation is dealt with, anti-racists may then move on to picket the sinister AFP meeting in Tempe.

It is expected that many anti-racists, leftists and trade unionists will participate. We in Trotskyist Platform call on trade unions to take the lead in supporting the July 26th anti-fascist counter-demonstration. Trade unionists must join together with Aboriginal people, Asians, Africans, Middle Eastern people, Islanders, leftists, feminists, Jews, Muslims, gays and lesbians as well as other members of the LGBT community, anti-racists and all other intended victims of the fascists in a mass action that sweeps the “Freedom Party” filth off the streets. Fascist groups in Europe like the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party in Greece and various sinister outfits in Ukraine have been growing by feeding off the massive unemployment and insecurity caused by the capitalist economic crisis. Their counterparts here are seeking to emulate this. Some of them are following the road of the likes of the Front National in France, the British National Party and Jobbik in Hungary who have tried to hide their neo-Nazi essence in order to win greater electoral support. Yet these parties find it hard to hide their Hitler-like hatred for non-Aryan people. The Freedom Party of Australia policy while welcoming immigration from Europe and North America calls for banning immigration from Muslim or Third World countries. They then go on to “justify” this with nutty claims that “third world populations” have disproportionately higher crime rates. The Australia First Party is even more fanatical – if that’s possible. The featured section of their website dealing with immigrants includes links with such “civilised” headings as “Barbaric Cultures,” “Ethnic Crime Wave” and “Foreign Monster Doctors.” What this kind of propaganda is aiming to achieve was seen in December 2005 when the Australia First Party played a prominent role in organising the Cronulla riot where a horde of white supremacists unleashed shocking violence against Middle Eastern, South Asian and Aboriginal youth who went to visit the beach. And this very year on January 26th in Brisbane, the AFP attacked the Invasion Day protest march which was being led by Aboriginal people. That is why it is not possible to debate these fascists. They are organising for racist violence. The physical threat that they pose must be met with a powerful physical response. Mass action must show those considering joining these outfits that it is a serious health hazard to be associated with these fascist groups.

The violent racism of the fascists goes hand in hand with their hostility to the workers movement. The Freedom Party want to turn the long term unemployed into a slave labour workforce by making them work for private businesses who, according to the Freedom Party’s policy, will only have to fork out 25% of market wages. The AFP for its part rabidly joins the bosses’ campaign against the construction workers union by railing against “CFMEU thugs.” Just like Mussolini and Hitler, if these fascists ever came to power they would smash all independent unions and would jail or execute union leaders and activists. That is why it is in the direct interest of the working class to smash the fascists. The workers movement here is key both because of its numbers and also because the day to day experience of working together at the same workplace gives the proletariat the unique ability to organise and to act in a disciplined and unanimous manner – the disciplined unity in action needed to physically stop the violent fascist threat. This power of the organised working class was evident in glorious form on May 2nd in Brisbane when over a hundred construction workers from the BLF, CFMEU and ETU trade unions formed the core of a demonstration of 200 anti-racists that successfully shut down an attempted march by the fascist Australia First Party through the streets of the Queensland capital.

May 2, Unionists, Anti-racists, Anti-fascists protest against the fascist filth.

May 2, Unionists, Anti-racists, Anti-fascists protest against the fascist filth.

In combating the white supremacists, we should not make any appeals to capitalist governments of any stripe to act against the fascists. These governments, like the capitalist state in general, serve the same capitalist exploiting class whom the fascists – with their divisive extreme racism and hostility to the workers movement and the Left – also serve. It is the official racism of Liberal, ALP and, indeed, even ALP/Greens coalition governments – with their racist war on refugees and their paternalist Intervention against Aboriginal communities – that is fuelling the fascist fire. The police who murder Aboriginal people in custody and regularly harass working class African, Asian, Middle Eastern and Islander youth and the courts that disproportionately jail Aboriginal people and Asians for minor offences have far more in common with the white supremacist thugs than they do with anti-fascists. That is why, every time that anti-fascists have mobilised against a neo-Nazi threat in Australia the police have protected the fascists – and often have attacked the anti-racists as well. Police planned to do the same in Brisbane on May 2nd but the presence of large contingents of construction unionists at the anti-fascist counter-action gave them pause. For the workers contingents had not only physical muscle but industrial muscle – the power to shut down production through collective industrial action. The police knew that if they attacked such a large amount of trade unionists they risked provoking strikes that would hurt the profits of their capitalist masters. That is why the struggle to defeat fascism must be centred on a perspective of mobilising the working class.

Should the capitalist state, in order to preempt an anti-fascist mobilisation, decide to pull the leashes in on their fascist dogs for a while we would not get in the way of this. However, we certainly should not be directly appealing for this to happen as that, ultimately, would only build dangerous illusions in the capitalist state. It would have the effect of demobilising the necessary mass anti-fascist actions by making people believe it is the state that can stop the violent racists for us.

Similarly, we should not be appealing to Woolworths bosses to take action against the fascists. Instead, we should be appealing to Woolworths storemen and women and service staff who are not only part of the working class that is threatened by the fascists but, moreover, are immediately threatened by the Freedom Party’s planned picket. In contrast, if the Woolworths bosses do take legal action against the fascists for their own commercial reasons then this would be a hollow victory for our side. It may well impede the immediate fascist provocation but by circumventing the necessary mass mobilisation it undermines the energisation and organisation of the masses against the fascists that alone can, in the long run, combat the overall threat of fascism.

In the end, to bury fascism for good, the working class must lead all the downtrodden in overturning the capitalist system whose unemployment, poverty and official racism are the bedrock on which the fascists grow. In that struggle the Woolworths bosses as well as the capitalist courts, police and governments are on the opposite side of the barricades. When the toiling masses take power they will establish a new state that in place of killing Aboriginal people, protecting fascists and attacking workers’ picket lines will, instead, crush violent racists and enforce the creation of a classless socialist society. A society of such abundance, egalitarianism and anti-racism that the need for a coercive state itself will, one day, eventually wither away.

The struggle to build militant working class action against the neo-Nazi threat is an important part of the struggle for workers’ rule because it trains the masses to rely only on their own collective power, increases their self-confidence and tightens unity both within the working class and with their brothers and sisters in oppressed ethnic and religious communities. It is also in the first place a matter of simply defending the working class and its allies against the threat of racist violence. So let’s work hard to build a mass action of trade unionists, Aboriginal people, non-white “ethnic” people and anti-racist activists of all colours to crush the planned white supremacist provocations on July 26th. Let’s ensure that the working-class centred May 2nd victory in Brisbane is repeated on July 26th in Marrickville!

Fight for Proper Maintenance of Public Housing! Stop the Neglect, Stop the Sell-Offs! The Suffering of a Public Housing Tenant

 

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April 30 – How would you feel if the children you are caring for had to live in a house where the leaks are so bad that not only does the kitchen and dining room flood when it rains but the penetrating water causes short circuits that present a potentially fatal electrical hazard to occupants? Unfortunately, this is just a part of what one tenant and the children she cares for had to go through as a result of the wilful neglect of her landlord. However, her landlord is not just any landlord. Her landlord happens to be the government as she is a public housing tenant.

The tenant, sixty year-old Virginia Hickey, wants her story told as she knows that many others living in public housing are going through similar experiences. Ms Hickey (known affectionately as “Aunty Bowie”) has lived in her house in Douglas Street in the inner city Sydney suburb of Waterloo for many years. She is the primary carer for two of her grandchildren and, additionally, two younger grandchildren, one with a serious diabetic condition, stay with her on weekends.

The family’s ordeal actually began several years ago. Maintenance on the home was so neglected by the housing authorities that the whole place was falling apart: the stove was not working, the taps were faulty and everything from the roof to the walls to the flooring were in a terrible condition. Eventually, after pressing the authorities for years they seemingly acquiesced to her requests. In March 2010, Spotless, the company which has the contract with the Department of Housing for the maintenance of her home, finally organised for the renovation to begin. Yet, this so-called “renovation” was done in a half-baked, reckless and arrogant manner. Thus, when Spotless asked Ms Hickey and the children to vacate the premises during the renovation, they did not provide any alternate accommodation. Instead, the Hickeys had to find accommodation for themselves. Virginia Hickey was initially told that the renovation would take six weeks. Instead, it took 11 months! They were forced to live away from their home for eleven months! You might think that after this 11 months that at least the quality of the renovation would be of a high standard. However, the very opposite was the case. Half the roofing had not been fixed, a door was loose and the toilet and the shower were still not repaired. Furthermore, Spotless performed the maintenance in such a reckless manner that they contaminated most of the furniture and goods in the home. Thus, the family’s furniture and beds and much of their clothes, shoes and personal items were marked as “contaminated” and were subsequently taken away to be dumped. Virginia Hickey was only offered an insulting amount of compensation for the loss of the family’s goods which she, understandably, rejected. Continue reading

FREEDOM FOR THE REFUGEES! NO TO OFFSHORE OR ONSHORE DETENTION! BUILD A PRO-WORKING CLASS REFUGEE RIGHTS MOVEMENT

March 20 – Thousands of people have protested in recent weeks against the Abbott regime’s brutal war on refugees. The latest atrocity to spark protest was a rampage against refugees by guards at Australia’s Manus Island detention centre in PNG. On February 17, these guards unleashed murderous violence. Backed up by PNG police – who like other state institutions in Papua New Guinea are largely subservient to Australian imperialism – they attacked the detainees with sticks and machetes, murdering 24 year-old Kurdish asylum seeker, Reza Berati, and injuring 77 other refugees.

The recent large pro-refugee rights rallies have brought out a wide variety of people. Many are youth passionately opposed to racism. Some are small-l liberals who see the cruelty against refugees as a blot on the copybook of an otherwise fair society. Yet the despicable treatment of refugees is actually typical of the record of capitalist Australia – from genocidal terror against this country’s first peoples to the anti-Chinese pogroms of the late 1800s and right through to the 2005 white supremacist riot at Cronulla Beach. Indeed, just three days before the Manus Island rampage, supporters of slain Aboriginal youth TJ Hickey marked ten years of the cover up of his murder by racist police in Redfern. The previous week, one of the four police officers who were surrounding an Aboriginal woman, Sheila Oakley, in her own home south of Brisbane, barbarically fired a taser straight into her eye and blinded it.

The Coalition’s war on refugees is naked. Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott rant hardline refugee bashing speeches. ALP politicians have made some criticisms of Morrison’s lies about the Manus events. But, in case anyone thought that the ALP was considering shifting its own racist policy, ALP immigration spokesman, Richard Marles, made his party’s stance all too clear:

“We cannot afford for the Manus Island detention facility to fall over.”
“It is the cornerstone of Australia’s strategy in terms of reducing the flow of boats from Indonesia.”
– ABC News Online, 19 February

Indeed, it was the Keating ALP government that first introduced mandatory detention in 1992. And let’s not forget that the Rudd government Version 2.0 introduced the extreme policy of sending all refugee arrivals to the Manus hellhole. The ALP leaders have as much of the blood of Reza Berati on their hands as does the right wing Coalition!

There are some within Labor ranks that do oppose aspects of the war on refugees. However, the ALP leadership fully embraces anti-refugee racism because that flows naturally from their support for the capitalist order – a system of exploitation that necessarily compels the ruling class to promote racism in order to divide and divert the working class people that they exploit and thus prevent the exploited masses from rising up against them. Today, as the ultra-rich bosses intensify their attacks on workers’ unions and savagely slash jobs – from WesTrac to Holden to Qantas – they and their hounds in government are intensifying the scapegoating of refugees and migrants. That’s why if the working class is going to be able to focus its own against the powerful capitalist enemy then it must actively challenge racist scapegoating of refugees. Mobilise trade union power to demand: Close all the detention centres! Residency with full citizenship rights for all refugees and migrants imprisoned in Manus Island, Christmas Island, Villawood and everywhere else!

Importantly, at recent pro-refugee actions there has been a presence from some unions including the MUA, Teachers Federation and ASU. This now needs to be urgently converted from the presence of a small number of officials to the actual mass mobilisation of union ranks – thereby laying the basis for actual industrial action. Because striking workers can bring industrial production to a standstill, the working class has the power to defeat all the schemes of the racist, rich ruling class. But how can mass union support be achieved? It is not simply a matter of lobbying union officials. To be able to win significant union support, we must convince the most active layers of the unions that defending refugee rights is an important part of bolstering the union’s very ability to resist the greedy bosses. That means pro-refugee demonstrations need to feature slogans in their rally leaflets that clearly point out how defending refugees is crucial for strengthening workers’ unity across racial lines and achieving the kind of solidarity that can lead to the defeat of the powerful capitalist bosses. The refugee rights movement must bring together the fight for refugee rights with the struggle for workers emancipation into one, unbeatable whole. Continue reading

MOBILISE UNITED ACTION OF ABORIGINAL PEOPLE, TRADE UNIONS AND “ETHNIC” COMMUNITIES TO DEMAND: JUSTICE FOR TJ, JAIL FOR THE RACIST MURDERING COPS

MOBILISE UNITED ACTION OF ABORIGINAL PEOPLE,
TRADE UNIONS AND “ETHNIC” COMMUNITIES TO DEMAND:
JUSTICE FOR TJ, JAIL FOR THE RACIST MURDERING COPS

It’s one of the most horrific crimes imaginable: a police vehicle ramming the back wheel of a 17-year-old boy’s bicycle and sending him flying through the air to be impaled on a spiked metal fence. Ten years ago, this is exactly what happened to an Aboriginal boy called TJ Hickey after racist cops in another police vehicle chased him through the streets of Redfern. Then, violating the standard emergency procedure of sawing off the fence so that the stake could be carefully removed in hospital, police barbarically ripped TJ from the fence and threw him to the ground. Even as TJ lay bleeding, police proceeded to search him rather than immediately call for an ambulance! The next day, TJ died of his gruesome injuries.

TJ’s killing has been followed by ten years of cover up by the police, courts and various governments. In the meantime, the rate at which black people die at the hands of state authorities continues unabated. In one case in January 2012, Kwementyaye Briscoe died in Alice Springs after being taken into supposed “protective custody” for merely being drunk. Even NT coroner, Greg Cavanagh, admitted that police flung Briscoe onto a desk, left him bleeding on the ground, dragged him along the floor to his cell and failed to give him any medical treatment even though they knew he was by then in a comatose state. Their heinous actions caused Kwementyaye to die. Since 1980 over 500 Aboriginal people have died in custody.

Without any doubt, Aboriginal people cop the worst police brutality in Australia. However, the racist authorities also target working class youth of African, Asian, Islander and Middle Eastern origin. Last June, 17 year-old Sudanese youth, Einpwi Amom was tasered by police even when he was handcuffed and surrounded by six cops. Einpwi’s alleged “crime” was that he had sworn at officers. When Einpwi tried to run away from them, he hit his head on the stairs of Blacktown station. He lost consciousness for two minutes only to wake finding cops brutalising – and then tasering – him. Fortunately, a friend managed to capture footage of the attack on her phone. Yet such cop brutality is all too common in working class suburbs. Even low-income white people – such as public housing tenants – can face police harassment. Indeed, the simplest Marxist analysis shows that the main role of the police, courts, army, Royal Commissions, prisons and other state organs in a capitalist country is to enforce the rule of the rich, big business owners over the working class that they exploit. Although cops sometimes do catch real criminals, whenever the exploited masses stand up for their rights the police’s main function becomes all too clear. Thus, in August 2012, mounted police in Melbourne violently attacked the picket lines of building workers who were struggling against the attempt of greedy tycoon Daniel Grollo’s firm, Grocon, to undercut workplace safety and drive out the CFMEU union.

The racism of the police force comes directly from their role as the bully boys for the ruling class in Australia. The all important unity of the working class is constantly threatened by the bosses’ divide and rule tactics in which whipping up racism plays the lead role. And the ruling class seeks to divert onto Aboriginal people and non-white “ethnic” communities the masses’ frustration about the constantly declining state of social services and their day to day basics of existence. But the ruling class’ oppression of Aboriginal people has an added dimension – it is aimed at perpetuating and justifying the conquest of the first peoples of this land. Indeed, the “culture” of the police and legal system in this country is inherited from one of their major founding functions – to drive Aboriginal people from their land, to carry out murderous “expeditions” against Aboriginal people who resisted and to at various times attempt outright genocide.

Yet, despite this vicious capitalist state determination to bury the truth about TJ’s murder, his family has courageously continued to demand justice. Upon every anniversary of the police crime against TJ, they and their anti-racist supporters have marched in protest. This year’s 10th Anniversary March will rally at 10:30am, February 14 at the corner of George and Phillips Streets in Waterloo. Trotskyist Platform urges all our friends to join this march and to do so understanding that no justice will be granted by any benevolent act of the racist, capitalist authorities. It will have to be won by united action of all those targeted by the state that murdered TJ – Aboriginal people, militant trade unionists, ethnic minorities and the poor.

JUSTICE FOR TJ CAN STILL BE WON BY THE UNITED FORCE OF ALL THOSE WHO ARE TARGETED BY THE SAME STATE THAT MURDERED HIM

Those running the campaign for TJ have sincerely been through every legal process in the book in their quest for justice. First, they had to bear listening to the findings of a police inquiry into TJ’s death that was, as expected, a total cover up. Then the coronial inquiry was yet another whitewash. Eyewitnesses who saw TJ’s bike being rammed were prevented from testifying and the bike itself was held by the police and not presented to the coroner. Then, last April, TJ’s mother, Gail Hickey, and the Indigenous Social Justice Association met NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith. Smith made vague promises but ten months later nothing – of course – has happened. The state institutions have continued to cover up TJ’s murder whether NSW has been administered by the ALP regime that was in power when TJ was killed or by the current conservative coalition. Federal governments have impeded justice – and will continue to do so – whether it is the Liberal/Nationals or the ALP or even the ALP/Greens who are in power. With the authorities slamming one door after another, some involved in the campaign have become demoralised and fear that justice can never be won. Instead, they think that the best that can be achieved are token gestures such as an apology from the NSW parliament. Yet what the denial of justice for TJ really proves is that justice certainly cannot be won through the current presiding strategy of the campaign. The hope that in some corner of the system there will be someone willing to stand up for justice has been dashed every step of the way. All the whitewashes demonstrate this. Rather than appealing to state institutions, justice for victims of police brutality can only be won by mobilising in opposition to this state. A united opposition of all those who are ultimately in the gun sights of the racist, bosses’ state. A campaign that is so uncompromising that the authorities out of fear are forced to concede justice.

Many Aboriginal people do understand that the state authorities are their enemy. This was seen in the heroic February 2004 struggle of hundreds of mainly Aboriginal youth in Redfern. In response to TJ’s murder, they held back heavily armed cops in a nine hour pitched battle that resonated with and inspired oppressed people all over the world. This Redfern struggle, along with the November 2004 resistance on Palm Island (that saw up to 15% of the island rise up to burn down the police station and courthouse in response to the whitewash of the police murder of Mulrunji Doomadgee) will one day take its place alongside the heroic deeds of Pemulwuy, Yagan, Windradyne, Jandamarra and many others who led Aboriginal resistance to the colonial invaders. The heroes of Redfern and Palm Island demonstrate the courage needed to really oppose the racist, rich people’s state. But to triumph today, Aboriginal resistance must also have behind it the support of “ethnic” communities (who themselves face racism), anti-racist activists and most crucially the industrial power of the organised workers movement. Once big business owners who run the country see their profits being hurt by trade union industrial action against racist police terror then they will be forced to rein in their marauding thugs in blue.

How the idea of working class action in defence of Aboriginal people can be made a reality was seen in the campaign in defence of Palm Island resistance hero Lex Wotton. The Sydney-based campaign simply demanded that the enemy drop all charges against Lex. It made no appeals to any state institution whatsoever to be a vehicle for justice. Instead, the movement openly appealed to the common class interests that workers have in defending Lex and in opposing state oppression of Aboriginal people. Thus the calls for the rally in the lead up to Lex’s trial emphasised that:

The subjugation of Aboriginal people is an extreme form of the repression that the authorities are also unleashing against trade unionists who stand up for workers’ rights. The ABCC construction industry police are spying on and intimidating CFMEU construction union members and continue to initiate jail-carrying charges against individual union activists.

Thus the movement was able to win the support of the Sydney Branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). This culminated in a stop work action by all Sydney port workers on 7 November 2008, the day Lex was being sentenced by a Townsville Court. Although it was not powerful enough to stop Lex being jailed, the burgeoning movement and the MUA stop work compelled the authorities to give Lex a notably lighter sentence than the ten years plus sentence that they had been planning.

Today, with the Abbott regime openly threatening repression against unions, especially the CFMEU, there is much potential to show workers the common interest that they have with others targeted by the bosses’ state – like Aboriginal people. A strategy like the one that the campaign for Lex’s freedom was waged on is what we need for the campaign for TJ. However, success will not simply depend upon what the campaign itself does. To ensure that the MUA stop work in defence of Lex is the norm rather than the exception for the union movement, we must struggle to replace the pro-ALP ideology and leadership that currently dominates our unions with a Marxist program of struggle based on opposition to this racist, capitalist state. As that struggle develops then not only will we be able to more powerfully fight for justice for TJ, Mulrunji, Eddie Murray and Brazilian student Roberto Laudisio, to sadly name but a few of the victims of racist state terror in Australia. We will eventually be able to sweep away the entire capitalist state so that not only horrific racist state crimes – like the murder of TJ – but also the incessant exploitation of long suffering workers will be but things of the past. Justice for TJ!

PDF Version of Article: TJ10thAnniversaryRally1_for_colour_print

STOP CAPITALIST JOB SLASHING THROUGH CLASS STRUGGLE! FORCE BOSSES TO INCREASE HIRING AT THE EXPENSE OF THEIR PROFITS!

STOP CAPITALIST JOB SLASHING THROUGH CLASS STRUGGLE!

FORCE BOSSES TO INCREASE HIRING AT THE EXPENSE OF THEIR PROFITS! 

8 January 2014 – Billionaire Kerry Stokes has been “busy” cruising around in his luxury yacht. He is riding high. But the same can’t be said for the workers whose toil made him his fortune.  Last month, workers at one of Stokes’ Seven Group subsidiaries, heavy machinery supplier WesTrac, were told that 630 of them would be retrenched.  These workers are among tens of thousands who are being laid off across the country.  Last September, Telstra announced that it was axing 1,100 workers. And this is after its owners made an obscene $3.9 billion profit last year. Although the media like to focus on jobs lost through off-shoring, these recent Telstra cuts – like most job slashing in Australia – has little to do with that. Most of the Telstra jobs axed in this latest round are those of line maintenance technicians – hardly roles that can be off-shored. Telstra’s latest profit grab is about cutting jobs by driving remaining workers harder and by reducing service quality to the public.

What has especially highlighted the jobs crisis was General Motors’ announcement last month that it will axe 2900 jobs and end manufacturing in Australia in 2017. This follows Ford’s announcement that it will slash 1,200 jobs and stop manufacturing here. The combined effect of the closures on parts manufacturers means that over 50,000 workers in all could lose their jobs in the automotive sector. This will not only be devastating for workers but shows the basic irrationality of capitalism in that skills built up over many decades will now be lost. And the trend of workers being ripped away from permanent jobs in unionised workplaces and dumped into insecure, casual jobs – where workers have little chance of learning skills and enjoy minimal rights – will be all the more deepened. As usual, the car bosses have justified the layoffs by crying poor. This is a scam! The $153 million loss that GM made last year in its Australian Holden operations – after paying for fat management salaries – is dwarfed by the $4.9 billion profit that it made worldwide.  Thus GM’s owners, who include billionaire Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway which holds a $1.4 billion portion, would only lose 3% of their profits if they kept the jobs of the soon to be axed Holden workers.

Enough is enough! It is high time for the working class and its allies to act. We cannot allow the likes of Kerry Stokes’, whose Seven Group made a huge $486 million profit last year, to get away with his firm axing jobs at its WesTrac subsidiary just so that he can suck even higher profits to buy even more extravagant mansions. We need to say to the capitalist owners: we are simply not going to allow you to slash jobs. We are going to force you to keep employing more people than you think would be ideal for maximising your profits and you will have to wear this. And if that means you are going to have to sell one of your luxury yachts and delay buying your private jet – then tough!  And if having a larger workforce means that you will be pushed to lower your prices in order to sell the extra production that a larger workforce could bring then all the better for it!

However, the corporate bosses-loving Abbott regime sure isn’t going to help us stop company owners from slashing jobs! Indeed, many in his ministry seemed to be partly happy about the crumbling of the car industry – since they know that workers in this sector are a bastion of trade unionism and once upon a time even had a reputation for class struggle militancy. Yet whether it is the ALP, the Greens or the Palmer United Party, none of the opposition parties also ever talk of measures to make it illegal for the corporate bosses to cut jobs. Thus, while the ALP leaders would actually like to be able to appease their working class support base by campaigning to save the jobs of GM and other workers, their subservience to the capitalist “order” and its principle that business owners have the “right” to do whatever it takes to maximise their profits means that they are completely incapable of preventing the job cuts. All the ALP could propose over the crisis facing Holden workers is to offer more handouts to GM – an idea they soon dropped. For the over $2 billion that governments handed over to the Holden bosses over the last 12 years did not stop them from axing their workers’ jobs. In the end, what handouts to companies actually do is to divide workers as workers in other sectors, whose taxes in good part fund government handouts, are made to feel resentful that they are propping up workers in a particular sector when their own jobs are also on the line. Indeed, any handout to GM effectively means that workers are, in good part through their taxes, handing over tens of millions of dollars to the likes of the billionaire Warren Buffett. One is reminded of the obscene spectacle that took place in November 2008 when the heads of GM, Ford and Chrysler flew into Washington to beg the U.S. government for a bailout, all arriving in their luxurious private jets!

If the Capitalists Can’t Provide Jobs for Workers Then the Economy Should Be Taken Out of Their Hands

Despite the nature of all the current parliamentary parties, the working class is far from powerless to stop job cuts. Strong union industrial action could force companies planning job cuts to retain their workers. For such action could compel business owners to realise that industrial action could cost them far more than the profits they will save by having a smaller workforce. The potential to stop the job cuts at Telstra and WesTrac is especially strong as not only could workers’ strikes shut down their hugely profitable operations in Australia but many of the workers in these firms are union members.  Moreover, solidarity action by workers at other parts of Stokes’ Seven Group – including Channel 7, equipment hire company Coates Hire and lighting supplier AllightSykes – could really bulldoze his moves to bury jobs at his WesTrac subsidiary.

The situation is slightly different at Holden given GM plans to shut down its manufacturing in Australia. Yet, if Holden workers were to occupy GM plants at Elizabeth (in Adelaide) and Port Melbourne insisting that they will not allow GM to sell the billions of dollars in equipment there then these workers would find thousands of workers at supplier companies and hundreds of thousands of other sympathetic workers supporting their battle to save their jobs.  However, to override GM’s job slashing also requires workers at GM’s profitable operations in places like South Korea and the U.S. to take solidarity action with Holden workers here. Workers at GM’s South Korean subsidiaries have already waged militant struggles and although U.S. GM workers have not taken such action for years, U.S. GM plants are still among the most unionised sites in the U.S.A.  In 1998, the knock-on effect from a 54 day strike by over 9,000 workers at GM’s Flint component plant in Michigan ended up shutting down nearly 30 GM assembly plants and 100 components plants across the U.S. and ended up costing GM bosses nearly $3 billion.

However, if we are going to have the struggle that we need, there needs to be a radical change in our unions. Reflecting the politics of their ALP mates in parliament, most current union leaders accept the notion that for workers’ jobs to be safe, company profits must be maximised. Yet it is precisely in the drive to maximise profits that bosses are slashing jobs. The dominance of this ideology that workers’ welfare depends on capitalist business success has allowed the bosses to gut workers’ rights, casualise large chunks of the workforce and weaken our unions without our side putting up the resistance that could have smashed these attacks. Furthermore, the union tops’ approach makes the workers movement vulnerable to bosses’ threats that unless workers accept reduced conditions, profits will suffer and the bosses will be “forced” to cut jobs. This is precisely the threat that Toyota is making as they callously feed off workers fears following the Holden layoffs.

Workers at unionised workplaces will be the spearhead in the fight to defend jobs and a powerful struggle waged by these workers could spur on the building of unions at currently non-unionised sites. However, in the struggle against job losses, we need to unite union workers with workers at currently non-unionised sites as well as with unemployed workers and with working class youth worried about their future job prospects. To build such united struggle, we should launch a campaign of industrial action and rallies to demand laws that restrict the “right” of profitable businesses to slash jobs. In waging a struggle for such demands we should have no illusions that the pro-capitalist governments will in any way be on our side. Instead, we should see our fight as being aimed at forcing concessions from the enemy – just like in the past our struggles have won laws granting certain minimum leave entitlements and maximum working hours. Among the demands that such a movement could fight for are:

That no enterprise can retrench workers’ jobs if it or its parent company is currently making a profit.

That no firm can slash jobs if its total profit over the previous four years exceeds the total wages of all the potentially axed workers.

An end to and a reversal of all the draconian public sector job cuts which Liberal and ALP state governments have implemented in recent years and which Abbot’s Liberal/National Coalition want to deepen at the Federal level.

Fighting for such demands will help start to mobilise action around the truth that fighting to save workers’ jobs means forcing the bosses to wear lower profits. As a class-struggle movement for jobs develops, our demands should not stop with this. We must emphasise the demand for full employment at the capitalist bosses’ expense – through reducing the working week with no loss in workers’ wages to the level needed to spread the available work around among all those who want to work.

As we fight for such demands, the capitalists will howl that this will drive them out of business – just as they do every time workers call for a pay rise. To this we must respond: if you cannot operate enterprises in a way that provides jobs for workers then you should not own these enterprises. They need to be ripped from your hands and brought into public ownership so that production can be planned to provide jobs for all and to utilise all available labour to serve society. However, not only are all current parliamentary parties thoroughly hostile to this idea of confiscating the factories, banks, transport systems and mines from the capitalists, any party that in the future attempted to do so would face fierce resistance from the judiciary, police, army and top echelons of the bureaucracy. For the current state apparatus has unbreakable, generations-old connections to the rich capitalist elite. That is why for our struggles to triumph, they must culminate in the working class leading all of the oppressed in a revolutionary movement to sweep away the current capitalist state and to build a new workers state that will implement a socialist system – a system based on people’s common ownership of the economy.

Turning the Slogan The Workers United Will Never Be Defeated Into a Reality

Key to unlocking the necessary fight back is to expose any illusions that local workers’ jobs can be protected through collaborative schemes with the bosses. Today, manufacturing union heads run a “Make it Here Or Jobs Disappear” campaign that appeals for government support for manufacturing firms and protectionist laws to favour local firms over overseas producers. Yet, the experience with Holden proves how little handouts to companies actually guarantee jobs. Protectionist measures don’t save jobs either for just as one country can take measures to protect its own firms, other countries can do the same. In the end all that protectionist appeals do is to set workers in different nations against each other while their greedy bosses – happy that workers are divided and looking out for the interest of their “own” firms rather than uniting against the bosses internationally – are left laughing all the way to the bank.

Yet, despite the failure of protectionist appeals to save jobs, most union leaders continue to make such calls because they fear the alternative: a strategy based on hard-fought industrial action. About the only time that most union leaders are taking any stand against job losses is if these layoffs are the result of off-shoring. The capitalist exploiters indeed do seek out lower paid labour they can find overseas just as they seek to replace workers here with lower-paid youth. However, our response to off-shoring should not be to counterpose the interests of local workers to their overseas comrades. That only serves to undercut the global workers’ unity that we so badly need if we are to defeat job slashing by multi-national corporate giants like Rio Tinto, Ford and GM, all of which have operations in many countries. Instead, we should say: we are happy if our working class comrades overseas get new jobs but there should be absolutely no job cuts locally. Furthermore, when a firm sets up a new operation in any country, we will fight for those workers to get the same conditions as the best paid workers at any of the firm’s global operations. Yet, instead of such an approach, Laborite union leaders promote divisive slogans like “Stop Aussie Jobs Going Overseas!” Similarly, instead of uniting the struggle of local workers with 457-Visa workers in the fight to defend the conditions of all workers, the current line of most union leaders is to make the divisive call to “Keep Out Guest Workers.”

We can see how campaigns that pit local workers against their overseas counterparts play out when we look at the results of the July 2012 “Local Workers First” rally in Perth. The trigger for the rally were moves by greedy billionaire Gina Rinehart and the likes of Rio Tinto to bring in overseas labour for their projects. Yet, when this same Rio Tinto announced last November that it was axing 1,100 jobs – including those of many Aboriginal workers – at its Gove alumina refinery in the NT, union leaders failed to organise any serious opposition. They could mobilise nearly 10,000 people to march for the blatantly divisive demand that Australian workers’ jobs be put ahead of those of overseas workers yet when capitalists are actually slashing Australian workers’ jobs in a move that had nothing to do with bringing in overseas workers, the union officials concerned didn’t want to organise any resistance at all. By channelling local workers concerns about their jobs into opposition to overseas workers, pro-ALP bureaucrats have diverted workers from the struggle that is actually needed – the one against the job-slashing exploiters.

Furthermore, consider what the July 2012 Perth rally means for potential efforts to save jobs in the automotive sector. Among the guest workers being rebuffed by the “Local Workers First” campaign are Korean workers. Yet, workers in South Korea’s GM plants are key to any struggle to stop job losses at Holden, not only because South Korea is where GM’s profits could seriously be hurt by solidarity strikes with Holden workers but because currently South Korean workers are much more willing to take action against their bosses than Australian workers are. Last month, rail workers in South Korea courageously faced down violent police attacks in a weeks long anti-privatisation struggle that triggered massive solidarity rallies by other workers. Yet, how in hell are Korean workers going to be convinced to risk their jobs to support their Australian sisters and brothers at Holden when they see Australian workers marching to put Australian workers ahead of overseas workers?

The influence of Laborite nationalism is so insidious that even many left wing groups like Socialist Alternative (Socialist Alternative, 3 July 2012) and the Communist Party of Australia (The Guardian, 11 July 2012) hailed the July 2012 “Local Workers First” rally. To be sure, these groups sought to distance themselves from the most jingoistic aspects of the rally. Yet, no matter in how cleansed a form they present it, as the rally’s main banner slogan “WA Kids Miss Out When Miners Use Overseas Workers” made all too clear, this is a poisonous campaign that pits local workers against their overseas comrades. It is a complete violation of the main call of The Communist Manifesto, which all nominally Marxist groups claim to stand on, “Workers of All Countries Unite.” It is not that there are no healthy feelings of solidarity toward overseas workers amongst sections of the Australian working class. After all, on January 2, officials of the MUA, CFMEU and the Rail, Tram and Bus Union held a rally outside the South Korean Consulate in solidarity with Korean rail workers. Yet what is needed is not only a show of solidarity but Australian workers truly standing as one with their overseas comrades. As The Communist Manifesto stresses:

The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality ….

That means just as at an individual workplace one group of workers should not ask the boss to favour them at the expense of other workers, workers in one country should not ask capitalists to favour them at the expense of their overseas comrades.

Trotskyist Platform works to contribute to the building of union leadership that will be based on The Communist Manifesto’s principles. We do, of course, understand that capitalists hire guest workers in order to drive down wages. Yet, we maintain that this should be entirely met by union demands for guest workers to be given the same wages as the best paid local workers, to be given citizenship rights and to be fully unionised and not at all by divisive demands to “keep out guest workers.” If you understand that the only way to protect jobs is by struggle against job-slashing bosses then you will do everything to build workers unity – without which struggles are doomed to failure. That is why our unions must also oppose racist scapegoating of Aboriginal people, refugees and “ethnic” communities which is used by the exploiting class to divert workers’ anger away from the true source of their problems – the corporate bigwigs. Kerry Stokes epitomises how the capitalists use such methods. Although Stokes likes to present himself as an enlightened person – all the better to promote his Asian business interests – the Channel 7 station that he owns churns out a stream of hostile stereotyping against the likes of refugees. How better for Kerry Stokes to divert workers at his WesTrac subsidiary from the fact that it is his greed that is the sole cause of the job cuts there!

The class struggle leadership of the unions that needs to be built must be linked to a revolutionary party that will organise the workers struggle in all political arenas. Such a party would draw around the class struggle all those downtrodden by capitalism – from Aboriginal people suffering terrible racism, to “ethnic” youth, to working class youth facing joblessness and to low-income women and single mothers facing hostile stigmatisation and enforced poverty. We badly need such a struggle against capitalism. For capitalism has proven that it cannot guarantee workers’ livelihoods and periodically falls into crises that bring untold suffering – like the Great Depression of the 1930s and the recent Great Recession that has ravaged the masses in Europe, America and the rest of the capitalist world. If workers here did not suffer the same unemployment level during this recent crisis it is only because the Australian economy was saved by surging exports to socialistic China’s booming state-owned steel and energy producers.  Yet China’s ruling Communist Party is moving that country to focus more on services and high-end manufacturing – that is, to an economy that will need smaller increases in imports of Australian iron ore and liquefied gas. This means that when the inevitable, next capitalist crisis hits or if this one lingers for much longer, even socialistic China will not be able save the Australian economy. Unless we reject the capitalists’ “right” to sack workers whenever their profits demand it, as part of beginning to challenge their whole system, we will end up here with the catastrophic situation that our working class sisters and brothers in Greece and Spain face right now – where three out of every five young workers is unemployed.

 

Defend Syria FROM Imperialist-Imposed Regime Change!

Sydney, June 15: Hundreds march through the streets of Sydney to oppose the NATO-backed Syrian “Rebels.” Secular Syrian community members united together in the action with supporters originating from other parts of the Middle East as well as a core of anti-imperialist leftists. Trotskyist Platform had a contingent at the rally carrying the banner shown below. There is also a slowly growing number of leftists who are not part of any group but are joining the Hands Off Syria rallies. This is despite most of the left groups in Australia – including Socialist Alternative, Solidarity and Socialist Alliance – supporting the imperialist-backed “Rebels.” Especially as the massive scale of imperialism’s drive to impose regime change on Syria becomes increasingly clear – via their “Free Syrian Army” proxies, their extreme religious fundamentalist allies and directly through U.S. and British special forces/intelligence operatives on the ground – any left group that either supports the “Rebels” or takes the cowardly position of neutrality is betraying the struggle against imperialism and thus also the struggle for socialism.TP banner_fmt

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An Eye Witness Account of Capitalist South Korea

In the latter part of last year, Trotskyist Platform comrade Samuel Kim, who is of Korean ancestry, travelled to South Korea. Here is his account of his experiences.

AN Eye Witness Account of Capitalist South Korea

I met relatives for the first time at Incheon Airport, South Korea. As we travelled towards Seoul, I looked out the car window. Out there were signs of highly urbanised life: tall, twenty storey buildings clumped together in the distance and we hadn’t even reached Seoul, the capital city, just yet. I remember being eager to see every aspect of South Korea, especially the ‘development’ of an ‘Asian Tiger Economy’ under capitalism. In the following article I will share my experiences of and some of my discoveries about South Korea: conversations with the people, a rally for workers’ rights that I attended and my thoughts on the situation in general of socialists and left-wing activists in South Korea.

The Journey to Korea

In the first place, I have to mention that it has been a painful and long journey for our family to finally return to South Korean soil again after many years of living in Australia. As a child I remember the threat of repression from the immigration authorities and the fear of deportation from Australia despite having actually been being born and raised in Australia, myself. Here in Australia I witnessed the denial of equal rights that in its turn gave way to exploitation at the hands of greedy bosses. My parents often worked as subcontractors for supermarket cleaning companies, pushed trollies and worked in the textile industry. The pay was meagre, $500 a week for full time work. Today, our working class situation is one of many where migrants and all working class people endure exploitation at the hands of the Australian capitalist system.

The Plight of the Elderly in South Korea

An elderly working class man doing it tough in South Korea: it is common to witness many resorting to collecting recyclables for petty cash in a country where an aged pension is virtually non-existent.

An elderly working class man doing it tough in South Korea: it is common to witness many resorting to collecting recyclables for petty cash in a country where an aged pension is virtually non-existent.

I was catching a taxi to the nearest bus station to travel to Daegu, a city of industry and technology. The taxi driver was a middle aged man and he was curious about my accent so I told him I was from Australia and he responded by telling me that Australia was a “good country.” I was wondering what he thought was that “good” about the imperialist nature and colonial origins of wealth in Australia but he then started to talk about the plight of the elderly in South Korea, something he was obviously very worried about. He said that a big problem in South Korea was the high rate of suicide amongst the elderly in the country. He was very aware that Australia was a so-called social democratic ‘welfare state’ that has some sort of welfare system and assistance for the elderly in place in contrast to the right-wing South Korean system where traditional Confucianist family principles dominate and there is very limited social welfare. I expressed my sympathy with him about the fact that there needs to be lots changed in South Korea towards providing assistance for the elderly. But without much time left, I quickly explained how Australia won a social welfare state and basic free health care as a result of workers’ struggles, also mentioning how Australia likewise has lots of changing to do especially around the issue of xenophobia and attitudes to migrant workers. If I had more time, I would have explained that Australia is an imperialist country where racism is a big problem. That the system and media scapegoat migrant workers so much that it often leads to racist attacks on migrants. That a system that has been founded on a white supremacist agenda of colonialism has always been racist towards the Aboriginal people. That the socio-economic disadvantages suffered by Aboriginal people stems from the historical and ongoing bloody theft of their property and that even to this day Aboriginal people die in state custody at a terrifying rate due to the brutality of the capitalist police. That Australian-owned businesses super-exploit the toilers of Australia’s Asia-Pacific neighbours and that some of the crumbs of this looting finds its way into funding social services within Australia and that, nevertheless, despite this hundreds of thousands of people in Australia live in abject poverty and are forced to skip meals and skip prescription medication just to get by on welfare. Continue reading

An Eyewitness Account of North Korea and Its People: Bravely Building a Friendly, Socialistic Society While in the Cross Hairs of Imperialism

An Eyewitness Account of North Korea and Its People: Bravely Building a Friendly, Socialistic Society While in the Cross Hairs of Imperialism

A scene from the 2012 Arirang performance hails the socialist alliance between North Korea and the Peoples Republic of China.

A scene from the 2012 Arirang performance hails the socialist alliance between North Korea and the Peoples Republic of China.

As my trip to North Korea approached, I started to feel excited. I was going to see for myself what this country was really like – this country that has been so vilified by the mainstream Western media.

I will not pretend that I went to North Korea with no pre-conceived ideas. This is unlike the Western capitalist media who pretend to be “unbiased”, “neutral” observers who are supposedly “shocked” when they go to North Korea for an “investigative” report. Before I went to North Korea – or, as it is properly known, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea – I understood it to be a workers state. By this I understood that capitalist rule had been smashed in North Korea and a state defending socialistic, collectivised property to be ruling there. This represented a huge step forward for social progress and for the global struggle of socialism against capitalism. However, the way that the socialistic system was run in the DPRK was somewhat deformed from the way a truly socialist order would be run because the administration of the country was monopolised by a bureaucratic layer that kept the masses out of real decision making power. Nevertheless, the DPRK was courageously holding out for socialism in the face of both economic sanctions and the most intense military threats from U.S. imperialism and its South Korean capitalist and Japanese and Australian imperialist allies. I understood that this intense pressure on the DPRK brought hardship to the North Korean people and made the bureaucratic deformations to its socialistic system more significant. Yet despite these difficulties, as a workers state embodying great gains for the exploited and oppressed of the whole globe, the DPRK must be unconditionally defended from military or propaganda attacks by capitalist countries and from external or internal forces seeking to undermine socialistic rule there.

My experiences during my trip to the DPRK confirmed this analysis of the DPRK and, more importantly, the political conclusions about what socialists in the imperialist countries should do about issues concerning capitalist hostility to the DPRK. Yet, in the detail there were several things different in North Korea to what I had expected. I found that, although I had even prior to the trip rejected the Western mainstream media’s demonization of North Korea, the trip made me realise that even my own prior perceptions of the country had been distorted somewhat by the capitalist-owned media. So, the trip was very useful. And I encourage all those leftists serious about knowing what the DPRK is really like to go see for themselves too! Continue reading

THE LENINIST UNDERSTANDING OF THE STATE AND HOW TO MAKE THE TRANSITION TO A SOCIALIST SOCIETY

THE LENINIST UNDERSTANDING OF THE STATE AND HOW TO MAKE THE TRANSITION TO A SOCIALIST SOCIETY

TROTSKYIST PLATFORM

Leninism, Social Democracy and Left Unity.

The Nature of the State and How to Fight for the Transition to a Socialist Society.

Appendix: Theses on the Communist Parties and Parliamentarism.

PDF format of this article. 46 A4 pages, 1.62mb

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Rome, Italy, September 2012: Workers from aluminium maker Alcoa’s Sardinia factory try to break police lines to storm the Industry Ministry in an attempt to defeat threatened job losses.

Leninism, Social Democracy and Left Unity

25 February 2013 – Why can’t the Left all get together? This is a refrain repeated by many within left-wing activist circles. Such a viewpoint is especially in vogue right now when there are unity talks underway between several far-left groups. Unity negotiations between Socialist Alternative and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) are at an advanced stage. At the same time, the Socialist Alliance is also pursuing unity talks with Socialist Alternative and is at an early stage of discussions with the Communist Party of Australia (CPA.) Those that argue for unity point out that most nominally socialist groups share the same vision of an egalitarian society where the economy will be under collective ownership and control. Yes, socialist groups largely do, in an abstract way, share this vision of an ideal society. However, the key issue remains: how do we get there? And it is this question of what needs to be done – and especially what needs to be done right now – that determines a political organisation’s program and practice. Continue reading