Pickets AND politics, comrades

Community pickets help win reinstatement for sacked Finlay Engineering workers

A successful community picket organised by Union Solidarity and unions helped win back the jobs of three workers sacked at the Melbourne engineering firm. One was allegedly sacked for smirking at his boss.

Community pickets - as part of a general political campaign to not only overturn these laws but the constitutional basis for them - are an important tactic in our struggle against WorkChoices.

Non-union community pickets can help circumvent odious anti-trade union laws and can help politicise broader layers of people.

We publish below the Melbourne-based Socialist Party's report of the victory next to the press release of the ACTU. Note the ACTU release says that negotiation won the workers reinstatement, not class struggle. While the Socialist Party grouplet over-eggs its own importance in claiming this as the first setback for Howard, it is no doubt correct to point to class struggle as the mechanism to win. What is missing, however, is a political strategy to combat Howard. Strikes and pickets alone are not enough. Most of the far left has elevated the tactic of industrial action into a political strategy. This is a leftist, syndicalist error.

ACTU and AMWU MEDIA RELEASE Issued 12 noon Wednesday, 3 May 2006


The ACTU and the AMWU today welcomed the return to work of three workers who were sacked recently at Melbourne engineering firm, Finlay Engineering.

ACTU President, Sharan Burrow and AMWU Victorian State Secretary, Dave Oliver said that the workers would return to work tomorrow, and were looking forward to getting on with their jobs.

Ms. Burrow and Mr. Oliver said:

"Following negotiations with the management of Finlay Engineering and the AMWU, the three workers have been reinstated and will be returning to work.

"The workers are thrilled to be back on the job, and are looking forward to returning tomorrow.

"The AMWU and the ACTU are pleased with the result of the negotiations and are committed to continue to work cooperatively with the company.

Dave Oliver thanked members of the AMWU and members of the community who supported the workers in getting back to work.

.... and from the Socialist Party

Total victory against Howard's IR laws at Melb Picket!

For immediate release

Wednesday 3rd May 2006

The Finlay company has caved into the picket outside their Waterdale Rd, West Heidleburg plant in Melbourne and reinstated sacked workers Harra, Vince and Arjunta.

These workers were sacked two weeks ago after an incident of alleged 'smirking' by a worker at his boss. The boss explictly stated he felt more comfortable sacking these workers after the introduction of Work Choice.

Yesterday at 6am a snap and real picket line (in that it stopped trucks entering the site) was called by Union Solidarity with the help of many others including the Socialist Party. Over 300 people blocked the two entrances and drove the boss to defeat late last night.

This is a message to the ACTU and all workers - we don't have to wait until the next Federal election or for an expensive win in the High Court - we can win on the ground with unity and resolve.

This is the first serious setback for Howard's new IR laws.



None of the disputes the editor mentions have come from hitting a boss at the point of production but more so from an employer / government back down. Thats why it was the first serious victory against Howard. Not necessarily because SP was involved. It is armchair critics that need to 'get some perspective' I challenge readers to compare the program of SP to that of the ALP. There are plenty of articles on the SP site that outline this. Sp is in fact one of the only parties to outline a genuine strategy. www.socialistpartyaustralia.org I also call on the editor to not confuse a short report about a picket line with an analysis of the Australian political situation or a strategy to defeat Howard Anthony Main

5/5/2006 2:15:22 AM


I don't dispute that the SP has a degree of support. And I know they have decent activists. None of that is in dispute. I'm also certain the SP was involved in the community picket. The 'over-egging' came with the claim that this was the FIRST serious setback for Howard's IR laws. What about the Cowra meat workers? What about the Warriewood (Sydney) juice workers? There have been plenty of setbacks in workplaces around Australia for Howard. This just happens to be the first the SP was involved in, so they talked it up (ie: over egged it). People need a bit of perspective. One point of the post was to show that a class struggle approach with community pickets (which the SP does champion) is important, but that we need to build politics around it. Pickets are a tactic, not a strategy. By the way Dan, grouplet just means small group, which the SP is. No drama. Marcus Strom

5/4/2006 11:27:24 AM


Bit of respect. Now first of all I don't think this story is linked correctly as I couldn't get to it from your site. Secondly, and more importantly, what's this shit about ' a grouplet over-egging its own importance'. You've got no fucking idea who turned people out on that picket line. SP (of which I am not a member) maybe small in the big scheme of things but in the Melbourne Left they matter. They do have real support from unionists, rank and file workers, on inner city housing estates. They also have quality activists and organisers. I would bet my that some of their people played key roles in setting up and maintaining that picket line on tuesday. As such they are perfectly entitled to go back to their office and advertise their role on their website. When you kick a real goal in the struggle you can do that. If this website is going get stuck in polemics and throwing around words like 'grouplets' its gonna get real old real quick.

5/4/2006 3:02:07 AM

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