26th July 2015
The Labor Right Faction has practically destroyed the LABOR BRAND with their unceasing gnawing of the Labor Values of Humanitarianism and Fair Play.
Their lame arguments from RICHARD MARLES ( A watered down version of Dutton/Morrison evil ) made a mockery of the Long Standing Moral Platform of the LABOR PARTY.
They have come to the point where they should leave the LABOR PARTY and join their equals THE COALITION. I’m sure they would be welcomed with open arms.
Bill Shorten is a similar type of self serving politicians that only care for manipulating people to look after their personal insidious agenda, just like TONY ABBOTT. They would do and say anything just to keep their jobs and feed their egos.
It’s now an untenable situation. Failing the Right Faction leaving the LABOR PARTY. It is time for the Labor Members of the LEFT FACTION to bite the bullet and make the bold move to LEAVE THE LABOR PARTY that now is LABOR by name only and form a new PARTY .
LABOR LEFT has always been the true CUSTODIANS OF THE LIGHT ON THE HILL, of the true Labor Values; we must now rescue those values from those that wish to sullen and destroy them.
Some of the betrayals by the LABOR RIGHT FACTION =
Labor votes to turn asylum seekers away
The Federal Labor Party lurched further to the right, after leader Bill Shorten won majority support for the turn-back of asylum boats at the Labor National Conference in July. Shorten has even signaled his willingness to consider turn-back directly to Sri Lanka or Vietnam, although he says there would be “qualifications”.
The move cements Labor’s disgraceful bipartisan agreement with the Liberals’ anti-refugee policies, including offshore detention on Manus Island and Nauru and the denial of resettlement in Australia to all refugee boat arrivals.
But there are significant divisions inside Labor. The debate over turn-backs was the most heated of the Labor Conference. Forty two per cent of delegates voted against turn-backs after the Left moved amendments to rule out the policy. Tragically, two of the traditionally most left-wing unions, the MUA and the CFMEU, broke ranks with the Left and backed Shorten.
Despite the Labor leadership’s capitulation, the vote has helped to harden opposition to turn-backs inside Labor, as well as within the community generally. It is a far better result than Shorten simply getting his way without any debate or opposition.
The challenge for the refugee movement now is to fan the flames of dissent inside Labor, and draw more unionists and rank-and-file Labor members into the campaign in the workplaces and on the streets.
Outside the conference, 400 people rallied to demand Labor reject turn-backs and end its support for mandatory detention. There were banners from refugee groups across the country and a large contingent from Grandmothers against the detention of refugee children.
Tamil refugee and FSU organiser, Aran Mylvaganam, told the rally, “We are here in solidarity with the Labor delegates and rank-and-file members who are in there fighting for the closure of Manus Island and Nauru detention centres…and fighting Bill Shorten and the Labor leadership.”
The rally was also addressed by Afghan refugee Mohammad Baqiri, ACT Labor MP Yvettte Berry and Michele O’Neil, National Secretary of the Textile, clothing and footwear union, who brought the conference to its feet when she spoke in the debate that followed.
Inside the conference, Bill Shorten claimed he was “following my conscience”, citing the concern that, “People were getting on unsafe boats and they were drowning.”
Labor’s Shadow Immigration Minister Richard Marles declared that, “A future Labor government must have at its disposal the full suite of measures to keep this journey [between Java and Christmas Island] shut.” And former Immigration Minister Tony Burke even cried crocodile tears for the asylum seekers that died at sea during his time as Minister.
But as Michele O’Neil pointed out, “when you turn a boat around, you are turning a boat around into a risky, unsafe perilous journey”. At least 300 Rohingya died due to boat turn-backs by Indonesia and Malaysia in May this year.
As she told the conference, “It’s not a turn-back boat policy, it’s a turn-back desperate people seeking refuge policy”.
Shorten portrayed the policy that was finally adopted, involving an increase in the refugee intake to 27,000 and increased funding for the UNHCR in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, as “a new direction”. But the increase to 27,000 will be made over ten years!
The day after the vote the Left’s Anthony Albanese argued that, “what we’ve adopted…will ensure indeed that boats don’t have to be turned around because I don’t believe the boats will come”.
Labor is promoting its policy as a version of the “regional solution” promoted by some sections of the movement. Shorten indicated “a portion” of the increased intake would come from countries in our region like Indonesia and Malaysia, although how many is not clear.
But Labor sees this as going hand in hand with offshore processing, and the use of detention on Manus Island and Nauru to keep out anyone who arrives by boat.
Guaranteed resettlement from Indonesia, to give asylum seekers an alternative to taking a boat on the last leg of their journey, has long been advocated by the refugee movement. But this cannot be an excuse for capitulating to the xenophobia about boat arrivals. Whatever happens in Indonesia, we will still need to welcome boats of asylum seekers. The boats that arrive directly on Australian shores from Sri Lanka and Vietnam cannot be turned around without handing people back to their persecutors.
Labor’s policy still contains some improvements on the Liberals’—such as abolishing Temporary Protection Visas, as well as other minor changes like restoring access to the Refugee Review Tribunal.
But it is clear that Shorten wants to keep pandering to the racism against refugees, and that the campaign will have to fight Labor in power just as hard as Abbott.
By James Supple
Read more related articles
- Morrison’s refugee bashing is all at sea
- ACTU opposes turnbacks, detention on Manus and Nauru
- As Gillard sinks the boot in: Stop the deportations
Editorial: Unpopularity contest as Labor embraces Abbott’s policies
Shorten has clearly been damaged by revelations emerging from the union Royal Commission. It was designed as a $60 million political attack on the unions and the Labor Party, and Shorten is a particular target given his history as leader of the AWU.
But there are no excuses for Shorten running a union that was more interested in sweetheart deals with the bosses than with fighting for workers’ conditions.
Shorten looks likely to ride out the fallout. But the evidence at the Royal Commission was a reminder of how much the Labor leadership is committed to running the system and how much it is part of the political elite.
Labor should be far ahead in the polls. But as much as Abbott is hated, there is no enthusiasm for a Labor leadership that is unwilling to stand up to him.
Workers stand up to bipartisan Border Force disgrace
It is appalling that Labor supported a law so obviously designed to silence detention workers and prevent media scrutiny of anything to do with immigration detention or Operation Sovereign Borders. Journalists obtaining information from an “entrusted person” are also guilty of an offence.
Tony Abbott may have banned government Ministers from Q&A, but it didn’t matter, because Labor’s shadow Immigration Minister, Richard Marles appeared and did the government’s job for them, vigorously defending the Border Force Act.
The Act means that those who have passed on the information about the mouldy tents and the feeding difficulties of baby Asha, returned to Nauru a few weeks ago, could get two years’ jail.
Astonishingly, at the same time, Marles is saying that Labor stands for greater scrutiny and transparency of the detention regime.
It is the second time in a month that Labor has disgraced itself by supporting government anti-refugee legislation. In late June, in the face of a High Court challenge to detention on Nauru, Labor supported legislation that the Liberals rushed through Parliament to try to thwart the challenge.
To cap off a month of Labor farce, there was the fiasco that engulfed the government and then the Labor party, when it was revealed that the government had paid an asylum boat crew around $5000 each to return the boat to Indonesia.
For days Labor tried to make political mileage by tagging the government for paying “people smugglers” using the same demonising rhetoric as the Liberals to describe the boat crew.
A boat of 54 asylum seekers had been illegally intercepted (they were on their way to New Zealand), and held on a Customs boat on the high seas. The government then supplied two boats that looked like Indonesian fishing boats, gave them limited fuel, then bribed the crew to take the boats back to Indonesia.
Labor didn’t care that the boat had been turned back. They said nothing about the fact that one of the returning boats ran out of fuel and the other crashed onto a reef near Landuti Island risking the lives of the asylum seekers. They said nothing about ending Abbott’s ban on resettling any UNHCR refugees from Indonesia.
But all the outrage over paying the crew suddenly disappeared when it was revealed that Labor hands weren’t clean; previous Labor governments had also made payments to disrupt boat journeys.
The truth is that “stopping the boats” has quietly become Labor policy. While Abbott says the Liberals will stop the boats by hook or by crook, Richard Marles now says, “Labor will not reopen the journey between Java and Christmas Island.”
Yet the incident revealed that despite the Liberals’ claims, even after almost two years of Operation Sovereign Borders, the boats haven’t stopped. They are intercepted; turned around, and if necessary even transported to Vietnam or Sri Lanka.
That’s another reason for the rally at Labor’s national conference. The Labor leaders need to know that whether it’s a Labor or Liberal government, the refugee movement will fight to stop turnbacks and to end offshore processing.
By Ian Rintoul
Shorten and the AWU: The best friends Abbott and the bosses ever had
Shorten and the AWU’s model of unionism short-changed workers through doing favours for the bosses writes Mark Gillespie
Listening to Tony Abbott criticise Bill Shorten for union deals that “ripped off the workers” almost made me choke on my corn flakes. Tony Abbott has dedicated his life to attacking workers and is totally indifferent to the conditions people work under, once saying, “bad bosses…do more good than harm”.
As the Industrial Relations Minister in the Howard government he opposed every submission by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to raise the wages of the low paid.
In 2001 he established the Cole Royal Commission into the building industry. It cost $65 million and resulted in no prosecutions but still led to new laws that further restricted unions and treated construction workers as second class citizens.
The current Royal Commission into Trade Unions is just more of the same union bashing agenda. This shouldn’t, however, stop us from criticising the dodgy deals exposed and rotten model of unionism at the Australian Workers Union (AWU) that unpin them.
Bill Shorten was Victorian Secretary of the AWU from 1998 to 2006 and National Secretary from 2001 to 2007, when he resigned to run for parliament.
AWU officials, including Shorten, have been caught out accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from employers, in return for pliable workplace agreements and a moderate union that keeps the industrial peace. This money is primarily used to inflate the union’s membership which then gives AWU leaders more power inside the Labor Party to preselect candidates and to influence policy.
The number of delegates each affiliated union gets at ALP conferences depends on its size.
Over the decades the AWU has used its strength to boost dozens of its former leaders into parliament.
The AWU has always been renowned for doing dodgy deals that undercut other unions, but what has been revealed in recent months is just how low they can stoop.
The most revealing deal was with the large cleaning company Cleanevent that employed thousands of casuals to clean up after big sporting events, signed by Shorten’s successor in the Victorian branch in 2010.
Thanks to the AWU, Cleanevent was legally able to employ casual cleaners working after hours on weekends on $18.14 an hour, when under the Award rate they were entitled to $50.17 an hour.
Workers that move from the Award to Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBAs) are meant to be “better off overall”, but this didn’t protect the Cleanevent workers because AWU officials never challenged the agreement.
In return for this sweetheart deal the company handed over the names of their employees (without their knowledge) and $75,000 every year for their union membership fees. Company emails showed they were saving $2 million a year in wages and having this exclusive deal boosted the company’s value.
Another dodgy agreement that came to light, signed on Shorten’s watch, was on Melbourne’s $2.5 billion EastLink Tollway project. Construction company Thiess John Holland negotiated an EBA with the AWU that undercut standard conditions on civil construction sites established by rival union, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).
After signing the agreement the company began paying the AWU just over $100,000 a year for the next three years. The payments to the AWU were recorded as being for training, research and for conferences, but there is no evidence that these services were ever delivered.
The project finished five months before schedule and the Institute of Public Affairs estimates the company benefited by about $100 million. Tony Shepherd, a former Business Council of Australia president and who was the chairman of the EastLink Tollway project was full of praise for the deal saying it was a “great agreement” and that they got a “lot more flexibility regarding rostering”.
The list of dodgy deals goes on. The Huntsman Group paid the AWU tens of thousands of dollars to keep a long-time AWU delegate employed, whose job was “stopping trouble” as the company restructured and closed a plant.
Winslow Construction paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for union membership fees disguised as payments for training. Winslow’s founder, Dino Strano, wanted to keep the CFMEU at bay and told the commission this deal gave his firm “a certain degree of stability”. Unibilt, a labour hire company, while negotiating an EBA with the AWU, was also paying the $40,000 wage bill for Lance Wilson, who was working on Bill Shorten’s election campaign.
While it is common for firms to deduct union fees from workers’ wages and then pass the money over to the union, in lots of cases, firms were paying the AWU fees without deducting from workers’ wages. This just looks like they were buying influence.
Bill Shorten has defended his role at the AWU by saying he was “a modern union leader” who strove for “cooperation in the workplace” by “making sure both employers and employees could get the best”.
Unfortunately this model of unionism, where unions and employers work cooperatively to manage affairs, is neither modern nor confined to just the AWU.
The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) recently concluded a cosy deal with supermarket giant Coles that reduces weekend penalty rates and allows Coles to cut its wages bill by $20 million a year. The SDA actually pays both Coles and Woolworths $5 million a year to help it collect membership fees, which are then used to maintain SDA influence inside the Labor Party.
These cooperative ideas also underpinned the Prices and Incomes Accords that the ACTU struck with the Hawke and Keating governments in the 1980s, which saw unions working with business to essentially restructure the economy along neo-liberal lines.
Within Labor circles the Prices and Incomes Accords are still seen as a success, even though real wages were cut and became tied to productivity trade-offs. Union membership collapsed along with the union movement’s combativity.
Not surprisingly Bill Kelty, the former ACTU secretary who negotiated the Accords, has come out strongly defending Shorten saying he was, “brave and flexible when the country needed brave and flexible union officials”.
Martin Ferguson, too, who was ACTU president from 1990-96 and later became a Labor politician, defended Shorten, saying the deal struck with Thiess John Holland was an example of “what the Hawke and Keating governments achieved”.
Unions working with business to further the “national interest”, or the interests of Australian capitalism, is central to Labor’s politics. But it is important to understand that these ideas have a social base. They are an expression of the mediating role the trade union bureaucracy plays within capitalism.
Unions arose as the collective resistance of workers to the ravages of capitalism. As they’ve become successful and stable organisations working within the system, they have thrown up full-time bureaucracies.
While many of these full-timers have their roots in the working class, their class position changes when they start working full-time for a union. Their income no longer relies on what they can extract from the employer, but on the income and resources of the union.
They are now a cut above the workers they represent and have a privileged role within capitalism as full-time negotiators mediating between capital and labour.
They prefer negotiations and consultation to class confrontation, and the Labor Party emerged as their tool to press for their interests within parliament. Its leaders have therefore adopted similar aims of management within capitalism.
It was the trade union bureaucracy that formed the Labor Party and today continues to fund it and retain the decisive influence over policy and pre-selection.
Right from the Labor Party’s inception in the 1890s, the AWU been a key prop of the organisation, and helped impose a pragmatic, right-wing outlook. The AWU was a strong supporter of policies like White Australia and arbitration.
In Labor’s early years it used its sprawling rural membership, including workers in occupations like shearing, to win rural seats through cultivating a conservative electoral support base. In some places, particularly Queensland, where at times it had a third of the state’s total union membership, it single-handedly dominated the Labor Party for decades.
The AWU remains a key player in the party’s dominant Right faction. Its role as kingmaker in knifing Kevin Rudd to install Julia Gillard as Prime Minister in 2010 was only the most recent example of a history of ruthless efforts to make and unmake party leaders.
It is tempting to blame all the problems in Labor and the union movement on the Right faction of the ALP. While there is no doubt these unions have set a very low standard, we need to recognise the Left unions are not immune from this bureaucratic collaborationist tendency.
The Prices and Incomes Accords with the Hawke and Keating governments would have been impossible without the support of the more militant left-wing unions.
The Left politicians, too, share with the Right faction the idea that business and unions can work together constructively. Leading left MP Anthony Albanese said he saw nothing wrong with the EastLink Tollway deal commenting, “it’s about enterprise bargaining where employers negotiate with employees, I believe there’s a common interest”.
This cooperative model of unionism is an obstacle to rebuilding the sort of fighting organisations we need. The AWU’s shenanigans have given Abbott a free kick, which he will use to pressure the Senate into passing the anti-union legislation he has waiting on the books.
Rather than a “modern” class collaborationist model of unionism, which has failed workers and just lays the basis for the Liberals to attack further, we need to get back to the politics of class struggle, by mobilising rank-and-file members, who have no interest in cosy deals.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, TANYA PLIBERSEK & PENNY WONG will hopefully lead the charge and put into motion the rescue of those long cherished values.
FOR AUSTRALIA’S SAKE LET’S RESCUE THE LABOR PARTY