(For background information on the Ark Tribe case see the Ark's Tribe website or the Rights on Sights website).
Adelaide construction worker Ark Tribe went to court again today – his fourth pre-trial hearing – and was given a three-day trial date in June 2010.
Today’s appearance was attended by several hundred construction workers, as well as representatives from unions representing teachers, public sector workers and the LHMU. The latter union brought along a group of Coca-Cola workers who had just won a fight with that multinational.
Before going into court, Ark thanked his many supporters. A quiet and softly-spoken bloke, it was the first time that Ark had addressed the crowds that had come out to support his court appearances.
In a video posted to the Rights on Sites (http://www.rightsonsite.org.au/) website, members of Ark’s family also spoke out publicly for the first time, testifying to the fine qualities of the man and to the injustice of the charges brought against him.
A four-part poem by retired worker Bob Saltis was circulated at the rally. It is a great piece of working class literature, and I reprint it below with respect for its author:
FOR ARK TRIBE
By Bob Saltis
1. Building worker
In this sunburnt country
where workers toil for others’ gain
and all too often on building sites
mangled bodies scream accusation
and every week a wife or mother
we salute Ark Tribe
an ordinary bloke
who proudly wears his union badge
and stands up unyieldingly for workers’ rights
The law would have him wear the yoke
he does not cower and boldly defies the greedy sharks
“Dob in your mates,” fawning lackeys howl
“or six months jail awaits”.
But this man is built of sterner stuff
The flag he flies is the Southern Cross
Anger seethes in stern eyes
“I like my beer and darts with mates but
I’ll rot in your jail and not give up
the liberties my mates of old won for me.
Me and my union we’re in this boat together
We’ll fight till we smash this evil thing.”
2. Building bosses
The sharks have multiplied in the building industry
construction company sharks
insurance sharks and
private equity sharks
This is the age of the shark and the vampire in the building industry
The vampires have their fill of the blood
and the sharks wax fat on the gore
of workers slain in workplaces
by unsafe scaffolding, falling cranes
and collapsing bridges
by the bosses cutting corners and
This is the age of the plunderer in the building industry
They gloat over rising profits
swindle their way to massive
lord it at the top of the heap
and squat on the workers’ backs
This is the age of hypocrites in the building industry
Smugly they dish out charity
while they shabbily turn a blind eye
and ruthlessly throw workers on the
This is the age of the dominion of capital and its owners
“We’ll have one more profit’” they cry
“We’ll cut corners and take risks
To this end we’ll bust
the building union
And we have a bead on Ark Tribe.”
3. Building watchdog
I accuse the ABCC of being a pro-boss
This is why building workers hold the
ABCC in utter contempt.
ABCC stands for Anti-union Bloody-minded Class-prejudiced Contemptible watchdog
A is for the anti-union watchdog set up
to bust effective unions and weaken
the union movement. To this end
unions are demonized with allegations
of corruption and violence and union
members are intimidated.
B is for the blackhearted bosses. Every
year in our sunburnt country mothers
wives and children mourn the
slaughter of fifty men in the building
industry but the bloody-minded
watchdog has never investigated the
bosses for unsafe worksites, or for
killing and maiming workers made to
work in unsafe conditions.
The first C is for cop on the beat. He
uses his oppressive powers to keep
unions off building sites checking on
the safety of members and to bully
workers into dobbing in their
The other C is for the class war the
class-prejudiced watchdog is
conducting on behalf of the bosses by
relentlessly hounding the workers and
their unions. They aim to consolidate
their class dominion and so to have a
free hand to exploit workers.
I salute Ark tribe who stands up
unyielding against this anti-union
4. Building industry
Fired by the spirit of Eureka
Ark Tribe and his union are in the fight
the fight for rights at work
the fight against wrong.
In the spirit of those rebel heroes
they blaze with icy anger
and stand up to the black-hearted
“One law for all!” the union demands
and hundreds take up the call.
“One law for all! One law for all!” the
Ark’s comrades all.
“Comrade workers,” the union appeals,
“rally in support of Ark Tribe.
His fight for justice, to see justice done
Is not just for himself but for everyone.”
And in our thousands we take to the
the awakened understanding of a
Resolute we march shoulder to
heads high, strong and united
An unyielding family, young and old
stern warriors for “Your Rights at
we know each other by our clenched
Defiant voices rising like rain clouds
over the land
we sing a solidarity song.
And we join this fight
keenly aware of the sturdy and tested
that links us to those to whom
we owe the liberties we enjoy today.
We are singing a people’s song.