Force Profitable Companies to Increase Hiring –
Make Them Wear the Resulting Lower Profits
No to Slave Wage Internships and Work for the Dole!
For Fully Paid, Permanent Jobs for All!
Above: Marseille, France, 31 March 2016. Workers at a strike rally to oppose the French “Socialist Party” government’s planned labour reforms. The reforms will make it easier for bosses to sack workers and allows for capitalists to make workers do long overtime hours at the standard pay rate. Whoever administers capitalist states, no matter how “left-wing” they claim to be, will necessarily act against the interests of working class people.
2 July 2016 – Today, on federal Election Day, the Liberals, ALP, Greens and others were frantically seeking your vote. They were in furious competition with each other. Yet all these parties uphold the same capitalist order. There are some differences between the parties. The ALP’s base is mostly the working class and small-l liberal intellectuals while the Liberal party is dominated by actual capitalist bigwigs and upper middle-class yuppies. However, the ALP sells out its working class base by advocating a program to basically keep the current, terribly unfair, status quo. The Liberals, for their part, seek to make the rich even richer by gouging even more from the poor. One key issue that highlights the truth that none of these parliamentary parties deserve any support from working class people is the fact that all the parliamentary parties uphold the “right” of greedy bosses to retrench workers at will. Even when big business owners are making huge profits they do not hesitate to lay off workers if that can allow them to make still bigger profits. Yet all the current parliamentary parties protect the big end of town by variously shifting the blame for unemployment onto refugees, guest workers, overseas producers or all of the above.
Despite this, many leftists actually spent today campaigning for either Greens or ALP candidates. In other words they backed either the small-l liberal or social democratic party vying to run racist Australian capitalism. Even the Socialist Alternative group, who between elections makes valid attacks on the ALP and Greens, ended up advocating a vote for these parties even while admitting that they provide no road forward for the masses and stressing that it is a socialist alternative that needs to be built. To give such support to the Greens or to the ALP when it is running on a platform of largely maintaining the status quo – no matter how much such support is accompanied by talk of “building a socialist alternative” – can only breed defeatism amongst the masses. For it is telling working class people that they must support one of the pro-capitalist agendas. This is, after all, also what the capitalist media and politicians themselves – and indeed the education system too – tells the masses: that they must “choose” to accept one of the alternate visions of capitalist rule on offer. Furthermore, by giving electoral support to one of the pro-capitalist parties – no matter how critically – the Left groups that do this are pushing the people that they influence to accept that the agenda of these parties is worth at least some level of support. However, for the class struggle to take off – and class struggle is the only effective means to defend the interests of the exploited and oppressed – the masses need to understand exactly the opposite. For the masses to choose the road of class struggle they need to be convinced that no pro-capitalist program – even if it is not as openly reactionary as that of the Liberals – is worthy of any support and, instead, the working class must rely entirely on its own power united with all other oppressed groups.
At the same time that most other Left groups were going about advocating support for the ALP or the Greens – and in some cases spending today literally handing out election material for these parties – the Sydney Branch of the Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU) and ourselves in Trotskyist Platform (TP) were busy doing something very different. The AUWU and TP held an election day rally in the multiracial, working class Sydney suburb of Auburn calling to “Stop Billionaire Bosses From Retrenching Workers!” and to “Force Profitable Companies to Increase Hiring – Make Them Wear the Resulting Lower Profits.” The action also demanded, “No to Slave Wage Internships and Work For the Dole – For Fully Paid, Permanent Jobs For All.”
The thrust of the rally was summarised in the conclusion of the callout for the action:
… we don’t have to accept the `choice’ that this election offers. Let’s get united and build actions on the streets and in our workplaces. That is how working class people and our allies won whatever rights that we have today. What better way to start to get organised to resist the new government that will be installed to run the bosses system than by rallying to fight for the right of permanent, fully paid jobs for all workers on Election Day itself.
Among those addressing the rally was a representative of the Sydney Branch of the AUWU, Samuel Russell. He spoke powerfully about the irrationality of unemployment under the capitalist system noting that while there are so many people willing to work without jobs there also so many jobs that need to be done that are not being done: including maintenance and building of infrastructure, caring for people who need care, etc. He also strongly criticised all the current parliamentary parties – the Liberals, ALP and Greens – for their attacks on the unemployed. Russell stressed that the fruit of workers’ labour and what working class people actually need are tantalizingly and visibly within reach if only we can get organised to reach out for this juicy, low hanging fruit and fight for it.
Also addressing the demonstration were representatives of Trotskyist Platform (TP): rally M.C. Samuel Kim, TP chairwoman Sarah Fitzenmeyer and editor of The Spark (the journal of TP) Yuri Gromov. Below are their speeches, which have been edited for publication.
Rally M.C., Samuel Kim, introductory speech:
Let me initiate this rally with some news about how workers have been unfairly sacked due to greed. For example, one latest round of sackings was from the ANZ bank. The ANZ Bank is the 8th largest corporation in Australia by revenue. They announced a profit of 7.2 billion dollars for last year. But despite being one of the richest and most profitable companies in Australia, six weeks ago, the ANZ bank announced that they would be cutting 200 jobs of people working in back office operations. No, these jobs are NOT being off-shored but they are simply being cut to boost profits for bank bosses and billionaire shareholders. In addition, in the last 16 months, ANZ has slashed nearly one and a half thousand jobs.
It seems the wealthy bank owners just keep wanting even more money at the expense of ordinary workers. You see, the terrible axing of workers’ jobs amounts to a small 2% increase in profit. Yet still, the company bigwigs for the sake of 2% higher profits is prepared to make one and a half thousand of its employees suffer poverty and unemployment. Indeed, in the last year, the four big banks, of which all four are in the top ten most profitable companies in Australia, have together shed over 4,200 jobs – that’s after they made a combined profit in just half a year of nearly 15 billion dollars!
It is not just the banks that are guilty. All big business owners are guilty. Mining magnate Clive Palmer was found to have siphoned off 20 million dollars of his Queensland Nickel company for his political campaigning and then said he had no money to pay 800 retrenched workers their due entitlements. 74 million dollars is how much he owes workers. This figure is almost nothing compared to his current fortune of nearly $600 million. Clive should be forced to run the company at a loss when it’s made a profit over all these years and Clive should pay workers from his own bank account, brimming over with the wealth which was created by the very workers he took so much from.
But what Clive Palmer has done is just the tip of the iceberg. Everywhere around this country, business owners have ripped so much money from their workers and then sacked these workers. They often perform these mass sackings when one division of the firm makes a slight loss. Although, in many cases, their overall company is still making massive profits they want to make even more so they slash the workforce and make those remaining work faster.
We need to stop these billionaire bosses from retrenching workers. We call for a resistance of the working class to stop job losses. After all, the magnificent riches that capitalists have acquired have all been created by workers. So even when corporations are running at a loss for a while, they should be forced to retain their staff and the shortfall be paid out of the personal wealth of the business owners.
However, all the parties and so-called independents sitting in parliament, without exception, uphold the supposed “right” of business to sack their workers whenever they want to maximise their profits. At today’s elections, all these parties are vying for your vote by promising to be the ones that can deliver jobs. Yet, these parties ignore the main cause of unemployment and that is the capitalist rich and the bosses’ drive for profit while these rich people ignore the public and community.
It is not just their refusal to stop billionaires slashing jobs. Parliamentary parties are responsible for laws that restrict workplace industrial action. In other words these parties are restricting the very method that has the most power to compel business owners to retain jobs. We all know that the Liberals want to bring yet more severe laws against struggle by construction workers by reintroducing the ABCC. However, in 2012, it was the Labor-Greens de facto coalition government that brought in the Fair Work Building and Construction authority under which 108 construction worker officials are today before the courts.
As they make it harder for workers to speak out to improve their conditions at work, the current Liberal and Labor parliamentarians seek to, in various ways, shift the blame on to others or distract us from real concerns. The Liberals and ALP have blamed refugees, these powerless refugees. It was the ALP’s Keating in the 90s that introduced mandatory detention, literally imprisonment of children, and Labor’s Kevin Rudd a few years ago introduced blanket offshore detention for every single refugee arriving by sea. The Greens also join with the ALP in blaming 457 Visa guest workers or imported goods for local workers not getting jobs. Blaming foreign workers and ignoring billionaire bosses, we say, do not save jobs at all. Not one bit! Instead, these slogans serves to distract the masses from the real cause of unemployment: the greed of the wealthy business owners and the crumbling character of their capitalist system. Furthermore, the nationalist slogans of Labor, the Greens and the Liberals whip up dangerous growth in far right fascist forces and potential hate crimes. Instead of irrationally blaming powerless foreigners and ignoring what rich billionaires are doing, we should be uniting with these potentially radical, underpaid workers and we should blame the billionaires.
The current parliamentary parties that administer this system seek to blame the unemployed and poor for their own plight. Their policies are based on the savage idea that the unemployed need to be pressured through draconian measures to seek work. The Liberal government is currently rolling out compulsory “income management” where unemployed people are being allowed to only freely use 20% of their welfare income. This follows on from the racist policy of the Howard government which was then continued by Labor and the Labor-Greens government to forcibly “income manage” welfare payments to Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. In probably the cruellest measure against unemployed and poor people, the former Labor and Greens government slashed payments to low income single parents. This has driven tens of thousands of single mothers and their children into further terrible poverty.
So this is the nature of the parliamentary, capitalist beast. Whatever party or independent is in government, they are part of this system that hurts the working class. They allow greedy bosses to cut jobs at will, make it harder for workers to take industrial action to resist such cuts and, when workers become unemployed, we get blamed for it and are hit with punitive measures. We should not be voting for any of these parties or independents at today’s elections. The only way we can fight to defend workers’ rights and jobs is through united mass struggle especially workplace strike action and mass struggle on the streets. To help build such struggle is why we are demonstrating here today. We are fighting for the right to have jobs for all workers through action that forces company owners to retain jobs and increase hiring at the expense of their profits.
If the capitalist bosses oppose our demands and whip up lies against us, we should say: If capitalist bigwigs are not capable of running the economy in a way that guarantees fully paid, secure jobs for all workers, then the economy should not be in their hands. It should be ripped out of their hands and placed into the collective hands of the people who actually generate the wealth of society: the working class people.
Sarah Fitzenmeyer (Trotskyist Platform chairwoman):
In Australia nearly three-quarters of a million people are officially unemployed. Hundreds of thousands more people are actually unemployed.
Additionally, over a million people are forced to work less hours than they want to.
35% of the workforce are either casual or on short term contract with virtually no job security.
Capitalist businesses spit out workers whenever their filthy profits might take a fall. The dole is a pathetic slap in the face to workers who have toiled for the profits of others – it is hardly enough to survive on let alone pay a mortgage.
Under capitalism this country will go nowhere forwards… it is a society that I don’t want my children growing up into… it is a society that doesn’t care about anything except the making of money for the few who make up the ruling class. A society based upon the profit motive for the very few doesn’t sound like a system that creates equality for all.
Most oppressed groups suffer most from unemployment and casualization of work. Due to discrimination, women have higher unemployment and a greater proportion of women work as casuals. Aboriginal people have a much higher rate of unemployment due to intense racist discrimination. People with Asian, African or Muslim names often don’t get to the interview stage of job applications when their prospective employers read their names on their CVs.
Those of us who are lucky enough to have a permanent job can be thrown out of work if our boss decides that cutting our job is what is needed to maximise profit. Furthermore, the threat of unemployment is used to undermine workers’ demands for better wages and conditions.
Therefore, the struggle for jobs and the struggle against this brutal class system is in the interests of the entire working class and especially for women, Aboriginal people and other coloured people who are hardest hit by unemployment and discrimination.
All the current parliamentary parties from the openly pro-boss Liberals, Palmer United, Family First and Nick Xenophon group to the ALP and Greens uphold the bosses’ “right” to retrench workers whenever that helps them boost profits.
Furthermore, all these parties have brought in laws to criminalise militant industrial action – the working class’ main weapon to fight back against the job slashing bosses. Everyone knows about the Coalition’s drive to introduce ever more stricter, anti-strike laws. Yet, in the time of the previous Labor-Greens government, authorities were also carrying out legal action against trade unions left, right and centre.
The backing of bosses who slash jobs combined with the criminalising of workers’ resistance is part of all the current parliamentary parties backing of the capitalist system in general. A system which means brutal racist oppression of Aboriginal people, predatory wars against the peoples of the ex-colonial countries, cruel incarceration of refugees …and the list of oppressive travesties goes on.
At today’s election we should not be backing any of the parties that back this exploitative and racist system. That means no vote either directly or by preferences to any of the current parliamentary parties.
They won’t and they can’t ever give us what the masses of this country so desperately need.
It is the capitalists who run this country while parliamentarians are simply the administrators of this capitalist system in its current form. No elected politician in Australia’s bourgeois parliament can or will start to massively redistribute the sickening amount of wealth that the very few have, let alone start to redress the systematic oppression of Aboriginal people. I am furious that I bring up children in a country that has so many gaping infected wounds that must be addressed. It angers me that the oldest living culture on earth still suffers the worst systematic oppression… and once you open up your eyes and actually see how capitalism works you know that these wounds certainly won’t be healed under a capitalist state. For it is the capitalists like Gina Reinhardt and Andrew Forrest whom the capitalist state serves and it is they who steal and get fat from Australia’s many natural resources.
Elections do not represent the will of the people. Elections are shaped heavily by a media that is capitalist-owned. The richer you are the more ads you can pay for and the more lies you can spread.
In any case whoever wins elections only administers a state – that is a police force, courts, bureaucracy and army – that has been built up to serve the interests of the big business owners. Thus, no matter who wins elections, it is the interests of the capitalists who will be served. In France, the Socialist Party came to office promising redistribution of wealth. Now it has brought in John Howard style, anti-worker laws that greatly increased the work week, provoking angry strikes and demonstrations by workers. In Greece, the even more left-talking Syriza party was elected to office but now institutes a capitalist austerity program more severe than the conservatives.
Government elections in capitalist countries serve to breed illusions in the working class and oppressed that change can come through parliament. This demobilises them and diverts them from the only path that can help us defend our rights – the path of class struggle. It is only through mass struggle including, importantly, industrial action that workers and the downtrodden have won all the rights that we have today. Even when progressive measures have been introduced in parliament, the state merely certifies what was already won through struggle in the streets or the workplace. At other times capitalist parliaments have granted reforms when the ruling class was scared into trying to pacify radicalising masses with a crumb or two or when they have been weakened by defeats in the international arena and sought to shore up their rule.
I am both enlightened and at the same time burdened by my knowledge that here in Australia we live under a capitalist “democracy.” Once you understand how this capitalist system works, you are compelled to expose its brutal mechanisms in order to prepare the future workers’ uprising that will fundamentally destroy this capitalist state and create a society that is based upon equality and not upon the profit motive. A workers state would ensure that every person mattered, that every person had a part to play in the creation of a society… A massive redistribution of wealth would lead to a society where no one ever needed to go without. Everyone would play a valuable part in building a society that cared about how we were going to start to right the wrongs of over 200 years of white colonisation.
Once you understand how the capitalist system works, why everything bad that is happening in this country makes sense. And once you see the blatant exploitation of workers’ labour you can only believe in one thing and that thing is a revolution. A revolution that is possible with the united might of the working class, Aboriginal people and anyone who hopes that one day a better society can exist.
No matter who wins the election today, it certainly won’t help advance towards the revolution that is needed to make this country right. Only the might of a united working class alongside the first peoples of this land will ever bring about the revolution that is so desperately needed.
Today, it is class struggle that we need to stop the capitalist bosses when they try to sack workers. We should also demand a reduction in the full-time work week with no loss in pay in order to spread the available work around. What all these demands are doing is fighting to force the bosses to maintain a larger workforce than they want to and thus forcing them to wear the resulting lower profits.
As an example of how gains are won through class struggle: two years ago at the Ausreo manufacturing site in Western Sydney workers, members of the AMWU manufacturing workers union, picketed the site for 10 weeks after the bullying bosses locked out the workers and refused to negotiate a pay rise. However, the workers remained defiant on the picket line and, thus, forced the company to grant them a real wage increase.
To make this the norm rather than the exception we need a political struggle within the workers movement to root out one of the key things holding back militant workers’ struggle – We must get rid of the illusion that salvation may come through elections and the parliament. To contribute to this struggle is what today’s demonstration aims to do.
The other key barrier to workers struggle is economic nationalism within our union movement. Consider this: nine days ago leaders of two of the biggest unions – the AMWU and the Australian Workers Union – held a rally for jobs. However, in total contrast to today’s rally for jobs the slogans were not to demand that the bosses be forced to increase hiring and be forced to wear the resulting lower profits. Instead, demands were made to help the bosses make more profits: through calling for infrastructure projects to use only steel and other products made by Australian corporations. But such protectionism does not save jobs. For just as demands are made here that local corporations be favoured, demands will then also be made abroad that local corporations there are favoured ahead of Australian ones. In the end all that happens is that workers are divided across national lines and the bosses are laughing all the way to the bank – because divided workers are less able to resist the bosses who exploit them. So we say down with divisive economic nationalism. Let’s truly respect the slogan that is often chanted – the workers united will never be defeated – by rejecting all demands that call for favouring one lot of workers over another. Let the workers of the world unite.
So, sisters and brothers, we actually do need a party of the exploited and oppressed. But not one like the ALP which seeks to win elections to run the bosses’ state. What we need, instead, is a party that places its trust entirely in the class struggle. It fights to break illusions that change can from within the parliament through the capitalist state organs. Such a party fights to build the strongest unity of workers across national, racial and gender lines in the struggle to win jobs and improved pay and conditions for all workers everywhere. It does this, in part, by mobilising the working class to support antiracist struggles, the struggles of people oppressed by Australian imperialism abroad and the cause of women’s liberation. When the capitalists scream that moves to force them to maintain a larger workforce will cause an economic collapse, this revolutionary workers’ party will explain to workers that this only proves the need for the working class to seize the means of production from the capitalists and create, by any means necessary, a workers state.
In a workers state, every person will have the right to work in secure, fully paid jobs. The talents of humans will no longer be wasted and every person will have their most basic human rights satisfied – the right to a decent means of existence and the right to contribute to society through their labour and creativity. All the current parliamentary parties in practice spit on that right. Don’t campaign or vote for any of them. Let’s instead organise mass struggles to resist the anti-working class program of whichever party is elected today to administer the racist, rich people’s system.
A society where every person is respected and every person is as valuable as their neighbour is possible. A better society based on so much more than making money for the few. The capitalist system is so putrid in so many ways we must all do all that we can to fight for a fundamentally different society. Once you understand how capitalism works you can also understand how it can be destroyed. The united working class alongside Aboriginal people and all others that are oppressed can bring this rotten system to its knees and kill it, hailing in a society that I want to bring up my kids in.
Rally M.C., Samuel Kim, mid-rally remarks:
I would just like to add that in my parent’s country, South Korea, 1.5 years ago they actually banned a party with relative size similar to the Greens, called the Unified Progressive Party… they had about 10-15% of the vote and stood as the 3rd largest party. They stated this party was too radical and tried to start a revolution/insurrection. In reality, the party was unfortunately, not revolutionary. However, it was very critical of billionaires and of the pro-billionaire president. This banning of a leftist party comes from a so-called “democratic society”. I’ll assure you, if any political party in capitalist Australia in parliament was too critical of the rich, they would deregister or ban the party and horribly spread lies to defend billionaires just like in capitalist South Korea.
Before I hand over to our next speaker, I want to give yet another example of a corporate boss sacking workers. Last year, the company owned by the slimy Australian billionaire, Andrew Forrest, slashed hundreds of jobs. The company owned by this supposed philanthropist is the iron ore mining company, Fortescue Metals Group. In many cases when the workers were sacked, they were herded into a recreation room and made to immediately pack their belongings into clear plastic bags. The company wanted to get rid of the workers as soon as possible. The remaining workers now have to work longer hours for the same pay. Andrew Forrest cried poor, citing a drop in iron ore prices. However, the company earlier this year announced a still massive profit of over 400 million dollars! Meanwhile, Andrew Forrest still has a personal fortune of 3.3 billion dollars! And this despicably greedy billionaire cries poor when throwing onto the scrapheap the very workers whose toil made him his fortune!
One reason why we are holding this rally in Auburn is that there is a high percentage of people here who vote informal. In the nearest polling booth in the church in East Auburn, 20% cast an informal vote. This is people who turned up to avoid a fine and then voted informal. Now right-wingers, small-l liberals and social democrats patronisingly say there’s a language barrier or that there is a low level of education here… But, actually, people have a healthy scepticism towards all the mainstream parties as, time after time, people have been sold lies and empty promises. The informal vote has been markedly increasing. In the election 18 years ago, the informal vote for the seat of Blaxland was just over 5%. But at the last elections it was nearly 14%. In this working class area, because of discrimination against women workers by bosses, female workforce participation is one of the lowest in the country and many face racist discrimination in employment – so people rightly feel disenfranchised. In contrast, in wealthier seats like North Sydney, the informal vote is nearly three times less – you see, the upper class knows that the system serves them and that they have a stake in it.
To the good working class people of Auburn, we say well done to those who are savvy enough to understand that the system does not serve you and that you have no stake in choosing which gang will administer this capitalist system.
Let us ignore those pretentious, pseudo-enlightened snobs who sneer and patronise you.
It is good that some slaves do not elect their own master. So we call for us slaves to arise. We call for mass action – including and especially militant working class industrial action. We don’t have the media, we don’t have the money, the parliamentary machine does not serve us, we only have our bodies to utilise in our resistance against the bosses. Our power comes through mass action, through the fact that it is the toil of our working class that makes the ruling class its profits and, most crucially, our power comes through our unity across racial, national and gender lines. That is what today is all about! It is about the fight for the right to secure fully paid jobs for all workers won through our own struggle united with all the downtrodden.
Yuri Gromov (editor of Trotskyist Platform journal, The Spark):
IBM – whose workers over many decades have played no small part in helping create our modern digital world – IBM last year made a massive profit of 13 billion dollars – a billion more than the year before. So why – after utilising all the sweat and labour – all of the abilities and effort of its workforce to generate such enormous profits and, what’s more, after being awarded a renewed, nearly half a billion dollar contract by the Department of Human Services, why then has IBM a few months ago started slashing hundreds of jobs in Australia? After helping create such massive profits, you’d think that the least a big company like IBM could give its workers would be a guaranteed job. But, instead, they throw their workers onto the scrapheap of redundancy, out onto the demeaning dole lines at Centrelink where some of the 2000 former IBM workers already sacked over the last three years in Australia must already have endured the experience of being treated like bludgers by brash young bureaucrats just because – no thanks to IBM – they now rely upon a paltry dole payment that’s nearly impossible to actually live on. These job cuts are not about offshoring – IBM, true to form, is also slashing tens of thousands of jobs internationally. IBM’s biggest shareholder is America’s Berkshire Hathaway which is owned by Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest people with a net worth of 66 billion US dollars! Buffett is a small-l liberal who supports Obama and claims to be concerned about the poor. He would probably fund the Greens if he lived here. However, as IBM’s record demonstrates, he is also a greedy corporate thug whose small-l liberal concerns for human rights amount to so much trite waffle because workers for Warren Buffet, just as for every other capitalist, amount to mere figures on the company ledger, labour costs to write off and quickly forget about.
Australian billionaires are just as bad or worse like, for instance, that smug, absolutely appalling racist Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest of Fortescue Metals FMG, one of whose laid off workers in the Pilbara was last year quoted in WA Today saying, ““They [FMG] seriously don’t give a f__k about the people that have made the company successful.”
But smaller bosses are no better. In February, the Australian-owned Lion Group announced that it was making 39 workers at its Launceston brewery in Tasmania redundant. Yet a week later it announced a rise in its underlying profit to almost $700 million. So whether foreign owned or locally owned, whether huge or small, whether owned by right-wingers or small-l liberals, all the capitalist bosses have no hesitation in slashing jobs and throwing dozens or hundreds or thousands or even tens and hundreds of thousands of working people into a life of uncertainty: uncertainty about how they are going to support themselves and their families, uncertainty about how they will pay their bills and where their next meal will come from, uncertainty about how they will pay their mortgage or rent and the bleak possibility of joining the 100,000 people who are homeless on the cold winter streets of Australia today. All this misery is the lot of so many sacked workers – not through any fault of their own but simply because they are human collateral damage in the ruling class’ reckless pursuit of ever bigger profits.
This is the normal, everyday kind of rule that our parliamentary democracy holds fast to. This is what all the millions of Australians have been effectively coming out to vote in support of today. Today, the dice is rolled once again to decide which party will continue to enforce the right of the rich to hold the lives of working class people balanced precariously on a tightrope, a tightrope called personal profit under which yawns the desolate abyss of unemployment. In Australia’s kind of democracy the dice is loaded so that the rich are always going to win whichever party in the end forms government. All the current parliamentary parties uphold a capitalist constitution that places the nominal rights of a few to private property and private profit so far above the right of thousands and ultimately millions of workers to a living wage. In fact, all the parties make a virtue out of punishing the unemployed. Just two weeks ago, the ALP – in whom so many working class people so tragically place their precious trust – announced a policy where people on social security benefits who have defaulted on paying the fines which the Coalition government imposed on job seekers who fail to turn up to all those pointless job agency interviews and activities – the ALP has had the bright idea that they’ll help out these unemployed people pay off their fines by slashing their benefits accordingly. Yet another punitive measure against the poor and unemployed dressed up as “income management.”
Do these people who are so desperate for your vote really have no shame: they uphold the bosses’ supposed “right” to slash jobs while punishing the victims of this very job slashing. No, we should not be giving our vote to any of these parties at today’s elections.
In the polling booth at multiracial, working class Villawood East, over 26% of people at the last federal election did, in fact, only turn up to vote to avoid being fined and then cast an informal vote. When you take into account those who simply risked a fine to not show up at all, that was well over one in three people in this part of western Sydney who refused to vote for any candidate. This effect has actually nearly doubled since the 2004 elections. So, we say, well done to a growing number of those working class people in areas like Villawood, Fairfield and here in Auburn who are clever enough to understand that they should not be supporting any of the current lot. However, it is important that this healthy distrust of the system does not lead to despondency.
It is time to test the strength, to rattle the shackles that bind the working class to the will of their capitalist masters. It is time to flex the physical and intellectual muscles of the Australian working class on the street, in the workplace and on the picket line struggles for rights at work. This struggle will hold no illusions at all in the goodwill of either the Liberal Party or the ALP. For they are simply the right and left wing props of the capitalist order, a pair of tired old second hand car salesmen who’ve set up their seedy dealerships on opposite corners of the street of capital so they can lure innocent passer-by’s into buying their dubious democratic bombs. But buyers beware: you can be sure that your vote will count for nothing, even if you place your mistaken trust in relative newcomers to this democratic hustle like the Greens who notoriously sold refugees down the river in a deal with the ALP in 2010 and have been quick to flag this same policy as a non-core promise ready to be negotiated out this time around too. None of these parties will guarantee jobs for all.
So let us fight for the right to work, for the right of our children to a high quality free education, for our families’ right to the best free health care available, for the right of the homeless to a safe and secure roof over their heads, the rights of the so long embattled and yet still so proud and powerful Aboriginal people, the rights of our LGBTI communities and not least of all the rights of the ordinary men, women and children so cruelly imprisoned in the Nazi hellhole immigration detention centres of Christmas Island, Nauru and Manus Island. Once so many other sections of society have united around us the fight to stop job slashing by the bosses will be so much more powerful.
Don’t Get Conned into Voting for Any of the Anti-Working Class Parliamentary Parties
They All Uphold the “Right” of the Greedy Bosses to Retrench Workers at Will
Let’s Get Organised to Stand Up to the Bosses and Win the Right to Secure Jobs for All
Force Profitable Companies to Increase Hiring and Let Them Cop the Resulting Lower Profits
No to Slave Wage Internships and Work for the Dole
For Fully Paid, Permanent Jobs for All
It is time to show once again that – unlike the Liberals or the ALP or the rest of them – working class men and women in this country are nobody’s lackeys. It is time for the organized working class to flex its industrial muscle. It is time for workers to trust in our own collective power. Only then will all the other oppressed layers of society see that it is working class women and men who are ready to lead the masses away from a cruel and unfair system towards a society where everyone’s needs are met and everyone’s abilities are valued. A society that can realise the principle of: from each according to their ability to each according to their need.
This famous formula dating back to the 1870s from the pen of the great German philosopher Karl Marx – the founder of the modern communist movement – still remains the best way to describe the communist future that my comrades and I struggle in our own modest way to help bring about. If a bunch of people found themselves alone and thrust together on this green and blue planet and determined that they would try to pull together for the sake of their mutual survival then surely they wouldn’t find any better advice than to follow this creed: from each according to their ability to each according to their need.
Marx wished that these words and the idea they encapsulate which is almost childlike in its innocent simplicity would be inscribed on the banner of the working women and men of the world. A banner to be unfurled as they rose to their historical calling and wrenched the reins of industry and government into their strong and able working hands and away from the greedy paws of the ruling capitalists.
Rally M.C., Samuel Kim, concluding remarks:
In closing let me summarise our message to both people at this rally and the good working class people of multiracial Auburn passing by.
The insecure, temporary jobs that more and more workers are forced into are not good enough. Unemployment is not good. No to Work for the Dole! No to low-waged internships!
The reason there is unemployment is because of the capitalist system and because of the greed of the big business owners whom this system serves. These bosses do not hesitate to slash jobs if that is what it takes to maximise profits. This is what Clive Palmer, Andrew Forrest, Warren Buffett, the owners of the big banks, BHP, Rio Tinto and countless other exploiters have been doing over the last 18 months. All those who blame 457 Visa guest workers, refugees, migrants or international workers for causing unemployment are not only whipping up poisonous nationalism but are acting to get the real people responsible for unemployment – these capitalist exploiters – off the hook.
All the current parliamentary parties and independents do exactly this when in office. They seek to blame others for unemployment or they ignore the real contributors to unemployment in capitalism because they uphold the capitalist system. They all uphold the right of the corporate bosses to sack workers whenever they need to increase their profits. Meanwhile, whether it is the right-wing Liberals in government, the ALP or the ALP and Greens in coalition, all these parties have overseen measures punishing the unemployed and the poor for their own plight.
That is part of why we should not be voting for any of these parties at today’s elections. Many people in multiracial, working class Auburn and neighbouring suburbs already understand this. That is why the informal vote is very high here. However, we need to be more than disenchanted with the current system – we need to fight against it. And we have the power! Our power is not through elections. Working class people have never won anything significant through the ballot box. Our power is our unity in mass struggle – through industrial action at the workplace and mass action on the streets. That is how we won every right that we still have today – from annual leave and sick leave to workplace safety regulations and greater access to education, these were the concessions capitalists threw to us when they got a little bit scared. Today, we badly need to unleash this power to stop the greedy bosses slashing jobs. We need to force profitable companies to increase hiring and make them wear lower profits.
We are here to fight for the right to secure fully paid jobs. Permanent jobs and that no one should be sacked.
Today is a small but important step in building a movement to fight for this perspective. If we can unleash such a movement against job slashing backed by the unions then when the capitalist bosses complain that they cannot hire more workers without inducing an economic collapse we will say to them: Since you cannot guarantee a livelihood to all workers without causing economic collapse, we are going to rip the economy out of your hands and place it into our collective hands in a system based on working class rule.