May Day greetings from the Democratic Socialist Perspective, a Marxist tendency in the Socialist Alliance in Australia. You have our revolutionary solidarity in all your struggles today and ahead of you.
May Day in Australia this year will take place amidst a major attack on the rights of workers to organise in trade unions. Workplace rights won over a century of struggle have been removed through new laws with the Orwellian name "Work Choices".
These laws were introduced by a Liberal-National coalition government headed by Prime Minister John Howard, a close ally of the world biggest war criminal George Bush.
Under "Work Choices" long-held working conditions are being removed as more and more workers are forced onto individual employment contracts. The right to strike and even to organise on work places has been severely constrained by a mountain of new rules backed up with severe penalties on unions and individual workers.
In the six months these laws have been enforced, the rate of unionisation of the workforce has fallen from 22 to 20 per cent. Many workers now on individual contracts have lost hard-won conditions such as the 38-hour week, four weeks annual leave, sick-carer leave, parental leave, rest breaks, shift penalties, holiday leave loading, public holiday penalties, etc. Hundreds of workers are facing fines of up to 33,000 dollars each for simply engaging in stopwork meetings. The new anti-worker laws have also significantly worsened the situation for women workers are now on average Ten percent behind that of male workers, which has taken the situation back nearly three decades.
Unfortunately the trade union leadership in this country is dominated by a conservative Labor party that introduced some of the biggest neo-liberal attacks on the working class when it was in federal government in the 1980s.
The conservative union leaderships response to the new anti-worker laws was to try and avoid any industrial or mass action response.Fortunately, we were able to work with a militant minority in the trade unions to successfully push for some mass action and hundreds of thousands of workers participated in four national mobilisations in 2005 and 2006, one of them in November 2005 brought out 650,000 workers in what was the biggest ever union mobilisation in Australian history.
While the last mobilisation against the anti-worker laws, just two weeks ago in Sydney, drew out 45,000 workers the conservative union leaders have succeeded in winding down the mass actions, replacing the slogan "Workplace rights worth fighting for" with "Workplace rights worth voting for". They are seeking to channel workers opposition to the laws into a campaign to have the Labor party elected at the next federal election.
However, just last weekend the Labor party national conference adopted a policy to keep most of the restrictions on the right to strike and organise imposed by the new laws. Not a single Labor union leader spoke up in opposition at the conference.
At the May Day marches this year, the Socialist Alliance will be campaigning for an independent mass struggle for the right to strike. In the coming elections the Socialist Alliance will field candidates and campaign for a socialist alternative.
Amidst such ruling class attacks and ever more blatant betrayals by the Labor party, our comrades are inspired to maintain their struggle by the great advances in the revolutionary struggle in Latin America and in Venezuela in particular. The first socialist revolution of the 21st century led by Hugo Chavez is bound to lift and inspire anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggle all around the world and one of our comrades is proudly leading a May Day brigade of Australian workers visiting revolutionary Venezuela right now.
In October this year we are helping to organise the first Latin America-Asia Pacific Solidarity Forum in Melbourne Australia. We will be glad to welcome Comrade Lindsey Collin from Lalit as a guest speaker at this conference to share your experiences in the struggle.
We look forward to closer links and great collaboration in the years ahead.
Workers of the World Unite
Long live May Day
Long Live socialist revolution
DSP National Secretary