A virus drives a pivot to manufacturing!

For 42 years the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, manufacturing workers, and the majority of Australians with common sense, have been saying that it is not rational to use Australia’s mining resources to diminish the role of manufacturing in our society.

In the main their rational thinking and proposals (in the case of the AMWU, see below) to maintain and develop our manufacturing voice have been ignored – especially by Liberal National Party governments – or downgraded, relative to free trade policy, as has been the case with the Australian Labor Party.

The union has consistently stood up for manufacturing workers and for Australian society over those years, using a variety of methods and tactics. They have been more consistent and insistent than anyone else.

The covid19 virus, presumably not a being with intellectual capacity, has proven them correct.

So much so, the Morrison LNP government, steeped in a long history of hostility to manufacturing and the AMWU, has announced a “pivot” to manufacturing. (Before the virus spread the Australian economy was drifting into a recession that would have become more apparent by around mid year. There is no way that, in that circumstance alone, this government would have considered the restoration of manufacturing as part of its anti-recession response.)

A national manufacturing task force has been created, dominated by business “leaders”, although the National Secretary of the AMWU has been appointed as a sole union voice.

Paul Bastian recently explained what could be done quickly to begin the restoration of manufacturing as an essential part of the Australian economy, instead of a coincidental afterthought.

These are the Union’s preliminary proposals for the immediate situation. However, the AMWU’s capacity used to go way beyond that.

Here you will find a quick history of AMWU and other union interventions in the struggle to maintain a strong manufacturing base founded on a skilled and well paid workforce.

Its May Day! Celebrating workers of the world in their struggles …

Our day for workers all over the world building their international solidarity for thought and action to create a better world. Solidarity greetings to all – defying Melbourne’s wintry cold and rain, the virus, the Morrison government, the physical restrictions all in the name of social solidarity.

Here is my small solidarity contribution in defiance of Melbourne’s cold and rain, the physical restrictions of the virus, and especially for workers at the heart of struggles defined by hunger, poverty, illness, the barrel of a gun, the military or paramilitary, and the threat of imperialist armed forces.

And still we rise!

This morning I awoke with mind racing far earlier than is good for me. The “thinking” led pretty quickly to two Facebook posts, “self-opiniated” prick that I am.

Both of them reflected, in two different ways on the Morrison LNP government’s third stimulus package that is dominated by the $130billion of wage subsidies. First, who pays for it? And the second: why did it happen?

Who will pay for it?

There is a bigger answer to this question than the one that follows, as valid as it is. But what motivated the question is that decades of neoliberal messaging have said that we can’t afford such things, it just is not affordable. It takes a pandemic, not inequality or climate change to show that it can be.

$130 billion to employers for a portion of workers wages is a lot of money, right?

Nope. $550 billion is a lot more … bit more than 4 times more, right?

That’s the value of tax avoided by Australia’s biggest corporations (foreign and domestic) in 2017-18. So said the Australian Tax Office Report in its report on tax in for the 2017-18 financial year, the most recent.

Protected by Morrison, the Fraudenberg and Cormann (he goes back to the fat cigars with Hockey to self-congratulate on an austerity budget that hit the majority).

Don’t be fooled: Morrison and co have been dragged kicking and screaming to this third stimulus. They resent it deeply.

But still “we” rise!

The second Facebook post discussed, briefly, why it happened. This is what I suggested.

Last Friday the government was opposing wage subsidies. Vehemently.

What changed that? We did, coordinated by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and it’s member unions.

The “We” are union members and potential members #joinyourunion .

Those of us stuck at work because we are essential and those of us stuck at home, “working”, sacked or “stood down”. “We” as part of the majority have acted for the majority.

For all of their power, those who gamble billions and more on the stock exchange, have done nothing at all to deal with the pandemic and made no contribution to winning a better wages deal for the majority. Those who prefer the safe haven of private ownership of their corporations insult us with their charity that is way below the value of the tax they should be paying. They are socially useless, and their self-centred individualism tries to deny the individuality of the majority.

But still “we” rise.

That’s why the employers and the government want to take our power away in their “Ensuring Integrity Bill” and their review of The Fair Work Act 2009.

We, the majority, are forced to concede our democratic rights to assemble, to be what we are – social – because of a virus that rises from deep in the bowels of capitalist exploitation.

We have defied them and we will defy them to repair the holes in their package and we can defy them at the Annual Wage Review.

And, if the government, driven by the most powerful business interests, seek to deny our democratic rights to be social and assemble we will confront them and defy them again.

Because we know that, under their dominance and control, this world is a disaster happening, and we know we can create a better one.

I add that yesterday’s post discussed an example of a transition programme towards that world. Transition programmes are the focal point of organizing by people like us, the “we” in other countries who are thinking just like we, here in Australia are starting to think that complaining and piecemeal demands are necessary but not enough. A transition programme is about “we” the majority taking things into our hands, including in creative ways that have not been thought of yet, dovetailing with old ideas that still make a lot of common sense.

And in the weeks ahead? We rise to win the 4% increase for minimum wage workers. Struggling now for a better deal “on the other side”?

#joinyourunion #abetterworldisnecessary