...but I write this reeling

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Thu May 30 00:26:14 MDT 1996


I have just returned from the picket, rally and march and sit in that have
followed the Oz uni lecturers strike here in Brisbane.  I do not know yet
how big the protests were in Sydney and Melbourne.

In Brisbane we got a crowd of about 3-4000.  Not bad but not fantastic.  The
events were tightly controlled by the NTEU (Tertrary education sector union)
They put much store on unity with the vice chancellors who are also opposing
the planned govt cuts to higher education.  However my union missed the
opportunity to make the links with the blue collar unions who are also  in
struggle against this govt.  In fact the waterfront unions (longshoremen)
offered to send members to help our picket line, but our chief union leader
said "No thanks.  We do not need you."  So we lost a great opportunity to
build the links between all those who must fight back against the Tories.

Still there are signs of militancy.  The building workers marched in their
thousands yesterday.  Next week the Public Service unions will demonstrate.
But no one is building the unified struggle.

There was a sit down and teach in of a kind after the main rally here in
Brisabne.  All us old radicals wheeled ourselves out and we got to talk to
about 300 of the most radical of the students. Ah age shall not wither it,
nor the years condemn.

I spoke for about 5 mins and denounced the evils of capitalism (for a
change!).  Mind you I did not mention the word "crisis" once.  So this list
has taught me something.

Curiously the police stood back and watched but did not move in even though
we were blocking a main city street.  Perhaps they are uncertain what to do
at this stage.

In any event we must try and build a mass movement that is out of the
control of the union and Labor Party bureaucrats.

Not easy!  But  there was a good feeling at the rally today.  After it was
all  over we headed off to the pub. Hence the title of this post. (BTW can
anyone spot the classical reference?)



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