June 28 in Adelaide

Vibrant Day of Action Gives Local Movement a Bounce

Dan Murphy reports from Adelaide...
Organisers were probably pleasantly surprised with the healthy turn out at the four rallies held around Adelaide.

Adelaide Unions demonstrate against Howard's IR laws

The noon rally in the city centre attracted 7-8000, which for a lunchtime, midweek rally in Adelaide is not bad.

Rallies in the three targeted seats of Kingston, Makin and Wakefield attracted between 500 and 1000.

At all of these rallies and the Monday delegates meeting at Adelaide Town Hall the message was clear: get involved and do your bit for the campaign. This was the meeting where Combet made his we should be running the country joke. Howard calling a press conference in Indonesia to try and make some hay out of this trivial aside and the running commentary given by employer bodies on yesterday’s turnout betrayed the sensitivity they are feeling on the issue. They know this is the campaign that properly handled can sweep them from office.

Unions with large turn outs included the NUW and LHMU in the targeted seats and the CFMEU in the city, although the police state like crackdown on union activity on building sites does seem to be having an effect on the freedom to mobilise for rallies. The CFMEU numbers were down from the very healthy contingents they usually send. Again there was a significant proportion of the crowd that could not be easily identified as attending with any particular union indicating the broad support for the campaign.

Imagine what could have been done if more unions had held meetings to close workplaces and attend en masse instead of sending delegations or leaving it up to people. Surely in the near future those employed in public sector workplaces have to punch above their weight in this regard as other places like construction and Australia Post come under increased pressure over stoppages.

With the building industry crackdown in mind the crowd marched from Victoria Sq to the local offices of the Buidling Industry Taskforce. At this point things lost focus and threatened to fizzle out with some lame chants being lead from the mobile stage. A bit more attention to detail in future might be a good thing. Also being a union secratry does not automatically qualify you as a good enough public speaker to get up in front of 1000s of people. Speakers could have been chosen more carefully. This is a massive campaign; let’s hear quality, charismatic speeches when we mobilise.

Campaign momentum did seem to be lost in the first half of 2006 following the giddy highs of last November. The job now is to organise growing numbers of members and supporters for the important jobs ahead such as spreading the word and, following the liberals’ counter-democratic election law reforms, young voter enrolment drives.

Yesterday’s numbers and the spirited nature of the rallies have spread a bit of optimism that the local movement is up to the task.