Oz the same? was RE: UK Rail Strikes, New Generation of Union Leaders

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Tue Feb 5 16:21:38 MST 2002

Martin's post made very interesting if not encouraging reading.  Currently
I am beginning the process of exploring the relevance of the Socialist
Alliance here in Australia.  at a recent meeting of the SA here in Brisbane
which I was unable to attend,  they made some gestures towards work with
trade unions.  A comrade reported this to me with approval.

I do not disagree of course with an orientation towards the unions, but
generally in practice this turns out to be an orientation towards left

I am aware that revolutionaries are putting much faith in the struggles
between un unionists and the Labor Govt in NSW, but there is nothing like
that here.

I personally believe that only an economic collapse will create the
situation where the working class attempt seriously to bypass their current
collaborationist leadership. Until then I think leftist are just banging
their head against the walls when they "orient towards the union movement"..

The current union leadership only approach the left for help when the union
is in trouble.  The Waterfront dispute of a few years ago was one such
instance;  the great Qld Electricity workers strike of 1985 was another.
What these strikes had in common was a realisation among the bureaucracy
that their own existence was in danger.

We leftists were used as cannon fodder by desperate bureaucrats.  We
demonstrated, fought and got arrested in our hundreds but as soon as the
slightest sign of a deal, which recognised the continued existence of the
trade union bureaucracy emerged, then the latter dumped the Left and
betrayed their members.

Predictably the result was large scale demoralisation on the Left.  In any
future politics which I will play a role I will argue very strongly against
following any union bureaucrat into any battle.

Been there, done that.



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