The Guardian July 4, 2001


Who to vote for now?

Following the passing of the Workers' Compensation legislation by the 
NSW Parliament the Secretariat of the Communist Party issued the following 
statement to The Guardian.

Many workers are justifiably angry at legislation that is a serious blow to 
injured workers. It has cut statutory entitlements and will make it 
extremely difficult for workers with serious work injuries or work related 
health problems to receive any sort of justice. Many workers who have been 
traditional supporters of the Labor Party are now asking why they should 
continue to support a Party that implements anti-worker policies.

Their anger was reflected in a recent vote by some waterfront workers in 
Sydney who, in a unanimous resolution, condemned the Carr Labor Government 
and the ALP for their disgraceful attack upon NSW workers.

The resolution declared that their union, the MUA, should disaffiliate from 
the Labor Party as an act of protest. Parallels were drawn between the 
Liberal Party and the ALP, which is increasingly seen by workers to be 
pursuing policies in the interests of the employers and corporations and 
against the interests of workers.

Mass meetings of members of the NSW Fire Brigade Employees' Union decided 
overwhelmingly to disaffiliate from the ALP. FBEU State Secretary, Mr Chris 
Read, said: "Bob Carr's arrogance knows no bounds. A Labor Government 
doesn't cut workers' comp, ... doesn't break picket lines, ... cut union 
dues and a Labor Premier certainly doesn't shove his fingers in the face of 
workers like Carr did on the steps of Parliament this week.

His obvious preference for the big end of town over the welfare of injured 
workers, union members or not, means that this so-called Labor' Premier now 
has to go." The Printing Division of the AMWU has also called for their 
Union to disaffiliate from the Labor Party or take other forms of action to 
make their protests known. The massed workers outside the gates of 
Parliament House strongly voiced their anger. They included many who are 
members or supporters of the Labor Party. A number of militant trade unions 
continued their opposition even after it became apparent that the 
legislation was going to be passed.

Unfortunately, not all trade unions mounted a serious campaign against the 
legislation. Some failed to respond, although fully aware that the 
legislation will have dire consequences for their membership.

The Labor Council cut short the trade union actions, allegedly to enable 
negotiations with the Government. This decision was the first step in what 
became a complete capitulation except by a number of more militant trade 
unions.

Meanwhile, the big employers strongly supported the legislation. They 
expect to pay lower premiums and lower compensation and lobbied to have the 
legislation passed rapidly. Employers will now be even less inclined to 
implement health and safety measures in workplaces.

So, who is worthy of workers' votes in future elections?

The Liberals? NO!

The Liberal Party voted against the legislation in the Upper House but left 
an impression that this was no more than a cynical exercise.

The big business supporters and financiers of the Liberal Party wanted the 
legislation through and the political manoeuvres of the Liberal Party aimed 
to give the impression that they were on the side of the workers. The 
Chikarovski Liberals mounted only a dishonest pretence and cannot be 
trusted.

A number of those on the "cross-benches" who had sworn their opposition 
were somehow "got at" and suddenly switched their votes. Were they 
threatened or bribed?

MPs from six smaller parties and an independent voted for the legislation. 
They were David Oldfield (ex-One Nation), John Tingle (Shooters' Party), 
Malcolm Jones (Outdoor Recreation Party) Fred and Elaine Nile (Christian 
Democrats) and Richard Jones (Independent).

Being an independent is no guarantee of being on the side of the workers. 
Those who voted for this legislation should be thrown out at the next 
election. Should we vote for right-wing Labor? NO!

Right-wing Labor's gang of three  Carr, Della Bosca and Egan  together 
with their parliamentary mates drafted the legislation in secret and failed 
to honestly consult with the trade union movement. Commitments were 
dishonoured.

Premier Carr relied on a blatant lie to entrap even members of the Labor 
Party into support. The claim of a $2 billion deficit is only an estimated 
figure of possible entitlements over a 40-year period. In fact WorkCover 
made a profit of $365 million in its last year of operation.

Right-wing Labor once again showed that it has no genuine commitment to the 
interests of the working people. They see political "strength" in their 
"courage" in being able to impose pro-corporate policies on the working 
people. That is the real meaning of Carr's disgusting "V" for victory sign 
outside Parliament House while the police were trampling the union 
demonstrators. NO, to right-wing Labor! And what of the left-wing and 
centre Labor Party parliamentarians? Some refused to cross the Union picket 
line outside of Parliament House, but later entered Parliament House to 
take part in a caucus meeting and none voted against the legislation.

This anti-worker legislation is one of those occasions when being bound by 
"caucus solidarity" and "saving the Labor Party Government" means 
complicity in the right-wing agenda. The Carr Government has been saved to 
carry on with its anti-working class policies which have only a paper-thin 
difference to those of the Liberal and National Parties.

There is a popular idea among many left-wingers, who join the Labor Party, 
that they can transform it into a genuine workers' party. Time and again 
this has proven to be an illusion and the Workers' Compensation legislation 
proves it once again. Social democracy is the alternate party of capitalism 
and will always end up compromising with the demands of the ruling class  
the big corporations.

Left Laborites have to make a choice: whether to remain in a blind alley or 
fight their way out. Only then can one confidently believe that they will 
be able to fulfill their undoubted commitment to the working people.

Those against

Of those in the present Parliament, only Lee Rhiannon and Ian Cohen (The 
Greens), Arthur Chesterfield-Evans (Australian Democrat), Peter Breen 
(Reform the Legal System) and Dr Peter Wong (Unity) are worthy of the 
support of workers because they opposed the legislation to the end.

Obviously much more is needed if a government is to be elected that will 
implement policies in favour of the overwhelming majority of working people 
and reject the policies of the big corporations.

The Communist Party has for many years advocated the formation of an 
alliance that brings together all the genuine left and progressive forces.

In addition to those who have stood their ground on the compensation 
issues, there are trade union leaders who were also committed. It is a good 
time for the trade union movement to advance candidates in elections 
outside of the Labor Party.

The Communist Party strongly opposed the legislation. It also stands 
candidates in elections but nowhere near enough and without the necessarily 
strong campaigns to win substantial votes. Communists have proven their 
commitment to the working class, time and time again.

The balmy days of Australia being the so-called "lucky country" are fast 
disappearing for many workers and their families as the policies of the 
economic rationalists, as implemented by both Labor and Liberal 
governments, bite deeper and deeper into the rights and conditions which 
had been fought for and won in previous years.

The Communist Party is not yet strong enough to make the difference that is 
required. We invite you to seriously consider the reality of the present 
situation and consider what you can do about it. It is time for many who 
are committed to the cause of the working people to seriously think about 
joining the Communist Party. We invite others who may not yet wish to take 
that step to join forces to help build a real people's alternative 
government that will consistently work to implement policies that are truly 
in the interests of all the working people.

The position in the trade union movement must also be changed by the 
election of more militant leaderships who will give their first priority to 
the interests of their membership rather than to keeping a Labor Government 
in office even when it is anti-working class and works assiduously to 
fulfill the needs of the big corporations.

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