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Workers bring Melbourne to a halt
OVER 100,000 workers marched through Melbourne on 30 June, against the imminent attacks of the Federal Government of John Howard under the new Industrial Relations legislation.
Steve Jolly, Socialist Party Councillor, Yarra City council, Melbourne
It showed workers their potential power and will stiffen their resistance to those arrogant bosses who think 1 July - when Howard's right wing government brings in new anti-worker Industrial Relations legislation - will magically wipe out trade unionism.
The mood amongst those who have already been under attack, such as the postal workers, who defied court orders to attend the rally, was loud and defiant. However, the rally was relatively quiet, especially compared to the Socialist Party/Unite (trade union) rally of school students last Friday (see last week's international socialist).
Workers have no confidence in any strategy from their leaders that means waiting for or relying on a Labor Party (ALP) election victory. They well remember that the last Federal Labor government smashed unions and introduced a wage-cutting "Accord".
Workers are willing to fight, if they are convinced their leadership will go all the way, but are wary of losing pay for a half-hearted campaign.
Union militants need to offer an alternative to the line of the Australian Congress of Trades Unions (ACTU) and moderate union leaders. The Socialist Party argues that we need to pressurise the more militant union leaders to continue the campaign of industrial action, including a national 24-hour general strike, to stop Howard. Workers also need a genuine political alternative, a new workers' party with mass support.
We sold over 500 copies of our paper, which included a four-page supplement on the Industrial Relations attacks and our strategy to defend workers' wages and conditions. Thousands of workers wore our anti-Howard sticker, including Kim Beazley (embarrassingly for him!), the Labor Party leader, as seen on the TV news that night.
There were also large demos in other cities including 20,000 in Perth, 15,000 in Brisbane, 10,000 in Geelong, 7,000 in Adelaide, 4,000 in Hobart and over 1,000 in Darwin.
In The Socialist 7 July 2005: