Thursday, October 25, 2007

Eureka flag flies on Built Environs site again

The blue and white Eureka flag is a specifically Australian symbol of defiance and rebellion.

Born of an armed uprising against British colonial authority in the then colony of Victoria in December 1854, it also represents working class and other progressive aspirations for independence from colonialism and imperialism.

In a purely formal sense, the modern nation state of Australia is independent. But the reality is that it is still enmeshed in the economic, cultural, political, military and diplomatic web of imperialism, with US imperialism spinning the most controlling and restrictive threads.

The imperialist glove puppet John Howard has a traitor’s hatred for the Eureka flag. He hates the working class and he’s a sycophant of US imperialism.

For nearly 30 years, the Eureka flag has been particularly synonymous with militant workers in the building industry.

That is why the hated creation of John Howard, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) has sought to ban the Eureka flag on building sites.

In the process, the ABCC has bullied building companies, telling them that they will not be eligible to tender for Federal construction projects if the flag, or any sticker, poster, t-shirt or other item containing the flag, is allowed on site.

And if you think that it is just the working class that is the subject of restrictions on freedom of expression, read some of the material put out by the capitalist media who are also chafing under the controls that Howard has placed over the media’s access to information (here).

The argument used by the ABCC in banning the flying of the Eureka flag on the Built Environs job in Adelaide (see here) is that the flag intimidates non-unionists and is thereby in breech of their “freedom of association” (ie freedom not to belong to a union).

This was why I held my one-man flag protest at the Built Environs site some months ago (here).

However, workers united can never be defeated.

CFMEU members demanded the right to fly their flag, and pointed out to management that non-unionists were on the job during the time that it had previously been flown so that it could not be argued that they had been “intimidated”.

By persisting with their arguments, the workers got around the ABCC objection that the Eureka flag was a CFMEU symbol by getting agreement from Built Environs that they, the company, would supply the flag, and at their own cost!

The company also suggested that it fly a flag representing a charity, and the workers had no objection.

So, for the last fortnight, a construction company-supplied Eureka flag has given back to Built Environs workers the right to freely express the culture that the ABCC had tried to intimidate out of existence.

The capitalist media, with all of its power and might, is still bemoaning the loss of free speech.

The workers are celebrating its restoration.

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