Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Usually it’s the road kill
or other dead flesh
that creates the maggots -

but on our jobs
it’s the maggots that create
the kill and leave
dead flesh.

Maggots who are bosses
stand-over merchants

made bold by the
“tough cop on the beat”:
those slimy maggots
of the ABCC.

And the dead flesh is his flesh
the flesh of my mate
the one I worked with
the one you knew

crushed by the beam
fallen from the height

and always the potential
that it’s your flesh
or my flesh

created to meet the deadline
the line of the dead
the shortest distance between
the two points of
here today and
gone tomorrow
the shortcut to save money
and lose lives.

When the maggot says
“I’ve got a deadline to meet”
introduce him to that line
of mates who died on the job

and say, “My body
on your deadline?
No way, you stinking
little maggot!”

And when the ABCC
comes knocking: “Oh my name
it is Ark Tribe
and I ain’t gonna
talk to you….

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ark faces jail as bosses go on killing

Adelaide construction worker Ark Tribe returned to the courts of the capitalist class on June 20.
He is being tried on charges that he refused to attend a compulsory and secret interrogation by the thugs of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, created to intimidate workers in the building industry.
In a tragic twist of fate Ark's return to court came just three days after a fellow construction worker was killed at the Adelaide Desalination Plant site (below).

In South Australia, bosses who kill workers may be fined. Multinational giant BHP Billiton was recently fined $75,000 for causing the death of worker Scott Rigg. It's a paltry sum for a giant corporation.

There is no law on industrial manslaughter in SA.

Hence the international consortium building the bitterly opposed desalination plant won't see any of its executives sent to jail for the death at the plant.
But Ark, who refused to be interviewed by the scum of the earth after standing tall over a safety issue at his workplace, faces a mandatory 6 month's jail!

To support Ark, rallies were held in major cities around Australia. Altogether tens of thousands of workers downed tools. For the sake of some minor disruption to the work at the Flinders University site where Ark was employed at the time he was charged, tens of thousands of work hours have been lost to some of the biggest construction comanies in Australia each time Ark has fronted the courts.

And if Ark is jailed, his union the CFMEU has pledged to stop work right around the country.

Photos of the rally follow:

(The oath of the 1854 Eureka rebels at the Ark Tribe Embassy opposite the courtroom).

(Ark Tribe, second right, listens to speeches of support).

(State President of the Australian Education Union Correna Haythorpe details how members proposing to place a moratorium on NAPLAN testing to oppose school league tables were threatened with individual $6000 fines under Gillard's FairWork Act. Gillard, now Prime Minister, also threatened to send parents into schools as strikebreakers.)

(Jamie Newlyn, State Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia and President of SA Unions. His members stopped work for 24 hours nationally after a death of a member on the Melbourne wharves a week ago.)

("Ark Tribe - here to stay!")

("CFMEU - here to stay!" - with the support of comrades in the AEU, AMWU, ETU, CEPU, IEU, PSA, RBTU, MUA, LHMU present at the rally.)

(And as Ark went into court, we went off to confront the ABCC in its rats nest and vent our anger at its attacks on our class.)

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A talk with Ark Tribe

South Australian construction worker Ark Tribe will return to court on July 20 to face charges that he refused to attend a secret inquisition conducted by the notoriously anti-worker Australian Building and Construction Commission.

If convicted, Ark faces a mandatory six months in gaol, and Julia Dullard will try and lead the Anti Labour Party (ALP) to victory in a federal election with a rank and file worker rotting in a cell for standing up to the intimidation and harassment of the boss class.

In the video, Ark reflects on the circumstances that led to him facing charges and on the tremendous support that has been forthcoming for the stand he has taken.

Monday, July 05, 2010

The parasitic consumption of China's new rich

The first half of 2010 in China has been characterised by an eruption of strike activity by China’s workers (see previous post).

This points to the antagonistic nature of social contradictions in the supposedly socialist Chinese society.

Under capitalism, workers are exploited because a part of their working day consists of unpaid labour time during which they produce a surplus value in the form of additional commodities for sale. This unpaid labour time is hidden by the apparent payment of a full day’s wage by the capitalist. The capitalist realises this surplus value as a profit through sale of the commodity. The contradiction that is inherent to capitalism exists between the socialised process of production and the private appropriation of surplus value.

Surplus value continues to be created in socialist societies where commodity production and the law of value continue from capitalism. However, surplus value is transformed into a component of the total social product. It is appropriated as profit from the sale of commodities by the working class itself and returned to the state as the owner of the means of production. Through its party (Communist) and government, the working class decides on the appropriate social distribution of the social product. Exploitation is removed from the equation when the private appropriation of surplus value is undertaken by the social agency of the creators of the surplus value.

However, socialist societies can undergo regression. If a group forms within the party and government that seeks to use its decision-making power to divert surplus value for private purposes (expanding top level salaries, introducing bonuses and incentives that go to those at the top, transforming state-owned enterprises into joint ventures or forcing their private sale through bankruptcy provisions) then it is possible for a new bourgeois class to emerge. Once any part of the total social product is appropriated for the private benefit and enjoyment of a privileged elite, the socialist society is taken on the capitalist road and the social product is broken apart into its exploitative form, with surplus value taken from the working class for the parasitic consumption of the new elite.

This is sadly the state of affairs in China.

The reforms begun under Deng Xiaoping took China down this path. The question was never whether it mattered if it was a black cat or a white cat that caught the mice; the real question was for whom the mice were caught.

Deng’s reforms enabled the appropriation of surplus value by party and government upper echelon bureaucrats, by enterprise managerial staff, by owners of privatised industries and services, by foreign and domestic investors, by the receivers of corrupt payments for favours, by shareholders and market manipulators. These were the beneficiaries of the mouse-catching of Chinese economic activity in the post-Mao era.

Look at last year's case of Wen Qiang, former Director of the Chongqing Justice Department. He had managed to corruptly receive 20 million yuan which he had tried to conceal by wrapping the entire amount in waterproof oilskins and placing it at the bottom of a pool (see retrieved money on display below). Unfortunately, corruption on this scale is all too common in China. This is money created by the labours of the working class but diverted from them and hoarded away at a time when many of the Chinese people can no longer afford education or health care.

Look at the extravagant and boastful weddings of the super rich of the new Chinese bourgeoisie. The fleet for the wedding of a coal bosses’ son on June 20, 2009 in Datong, a major city in Shanxi, included a camera team of 6 Jeeps, 4 Ferraris as lead vehicles, a main fleet of 4 Rolls Royces, and a retinue comprising 6 Mercedes, 6 Bentleys, 20 Audi A8s, a Hummer bringing up the rear, and Porsche Cayennes for "odd jobs” (below).

Despite press campaigns against ostentatious displays of wealth, lavish banquets are still thrown with enormous waste of food and ritual displays of status associated with the provision of rare and endangered species as food. Mo Yan, the novelist who provided us with Red Sorghum in 1987, satirised this culinary elitism in 1992 with The Republic of Wine, a story in which selected boy babies are fattened as “meat boys” and served as the highlight at banquets. It was an effective satire because it dealt with a real and growing abuse of position and power.

A recent report on the East South West North blog refers to a copy of a restaurant bill posted on the Internet, according to which four customers ate: four servings of abalone with list price of 8,800 yuan each; four orders of braised truffles/shark fin soup with list price of 13,888 yuan each; four orders of South African bird's nest soup with wild honey at 9,860 each; 1980 vintage Lafitte red wine; 50-year-vintage Maotai; ... These items alone already amounted to more than 180,000 yuan. There were also some other miscellaneous items such as beef with
pepper, braised tofu, etc which were offered free of charge. The customer signed the bill for the round sum of 200,000 yuan.

The report continued:
“Could this be real? Many netizens have their doubts, because they think that this is yet another promotional gimmick.
“From the telephone number listed on the bill, our reporter contacted the restaurant and spoke to the manager named Yang.

“Manager Yang confirmed that this was true. He told the reporter what happened: ‘There were four customers who showed up for lunch. They ate so late that the restaurant workers had to work overtime. They drank a lot. For some reason, they got into an argument with the servers. The attitude of patrons is that if you don't think that we can afford it, we will deliberately make it hard on you. So this patron had two carloads of one yuan bills delivered to pay the bill. He wanted to cause us grief [by counting the money bills one at a time].’

“This restaurant specializes in serving bird's nest, abalone and shark fin, with an average expenditure of 1,500 to 2,000 yuan per capita. The patrons are mostly coal mine owners, company bosses, etc. Apart from the food and wine, the restaurant also imposes a 10% service charge. They provide side dishes and fruits for free.

“Is this a promotional gimmick by this restaurant? Our reporter tried hard but was unable to reach this "most awesome restaurant patron ever.”

Whether or not it was a promotional gimmick or a real display of ostentation and arrogance by coal mine owners and company bosses, the fact remains that such a restaurant exists to satisfy the parasitic consumption of an exploitative class in China whilst workers are reduced to fighting for shorter working hours and higher wages and are denied access to free medical and educational services.

The Gini Coefficient for China (an international measure of the disparity between a nation’s social poles of wealth and poverty) rose from 0.25 in 1983 (measured by Chen Jiandong and others in The Trend of Gini Coefficient in China ) to 0.47 in 2008, according to Zhou Tianyong, senior economist of the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The larger the coefficient the wider the social polarisation. Going beyond 0.5 is usually taken as an indicator the imminent social breakdown of the society concerned.
(Above: at the start of the world financial crisis laid off migrant workers in southern China rally under signs saying "I want to go home". Destitute and without means of transport despite long hours creating surplus value, profit, for bosses.)

China's transformation from a socialist society to a capitalist society will invariably see its emergence as an exporter of capital and a purveyor of neo-colonialism.
The Australian resource sector is in the forefront of this development.
Australian workers and Chinese workers have a shared interest in eliminating all forms of exploitation and greed. Their friendship and understanding will grow in struggle.

Old revolutionaries call for support of Chinese workers' struggles

(Sourced from the China Study Group website

Translator’s note: “Regarding the present upsurge of worker action in China, liberals have used their discursive power in the overseas media to frame the strike wave as a tale of workers’ struggle for ‘independent unions,’ as if this were a repetition of Solidarnosc. What do Chinese workers want? What is the direction of the Chinese workers movement? Those who support the movement and are concerned about the fate of the working class should provide an account matching the reality of the movement. This letter of support provides a perspective different from those predominant in the mainstream media.”

Uphold the Constitution, Respect and Ensure Human Rights, Support Honda Workers’ Just Struggles, Condemn Foxconn’s Inhumane Management
(June 6, 2010)

General Secretary Hu Jintao and Members of the Central Party Committee,
Chairman Wu Bangguo of the People’s Congress
Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice Premiers, and Members of the State Council
Compatriots throughout China, and all Media Outlets:

There have recently occurred numerous incidents in our country that signal intensified social contradictions. According to media reports, Shenzhen-based Foxconn with Taiwanese investment have treated workers as machines (or worse, just spare parts!) to generate profit for the company and instituted an inhumane management system that destroys the health and spirit of workers to the extent that some have felt that life is not worth living. Thirteen workers in this company have jumped to their own deaths in a short period of time. Their tragic deaths break our hearts. It is a situation that has shocked the world!

Based in Foshan, Guangdong, Honda Auto Parts Manufacturing Co., Ltd. is a Japanese-owned company. While the capitalist owner has made a huge profit, the wages are too low to support workers’ livelihoods and the company’s union does not represent the interest of the workers. Nearly two thousand workers have gone on strike in their struggle for wage increases and to initiate a reform of the union. But the Japanese management only agreed to a small increase, far from what the workers have asked. Moreover, the management unjustifiably demanded workers to sign a “no strike” commitment and threatened to fire workers who take part in the strike. They indeed fired two leaders among the workers.

Other incidents in the media also show increased conflict between capital and labor. Some workers in Chongqing Qijiang Gear Transmission Co. Ltd were forced to work overtime during weekends and died from overwork. The long-term exhaustion, low pay and management corruption led workers to strike. Close to 1700 workers from Taisheng Furniture Company, based in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, had a three-day strike to protest against overstress and low pay. Over a thousand workers in the spare parts factory that supply Beijing-based Hyundai went on a strike to demand a pay raise. Workers at Lanzhou Vinylon Company went on strike because they cannot sustain a basic livelihood. In Datong City (Shanxi Province), the state-owned enterprise Xinghuo Pharmaceutical Company was forced into bankruptcy and its laid-off workers had their numerous petitions refused. Following this, over 10,000 people staged a sit-in at the municipal government building; some of them were beaten up by armed police. Workers on strike from Pingdingshan Cotton Spinning Mill (Henan Province) were brutally beaten by thugs brought in by police vehicles, resulting in injuries of many women workers. In Shenzhen workers who are taking the lead to demand back pay or protect workers’ rights have had their names placed on various blacklist, which makes it difficult for them to obtain employment. These are just some of the recent incidents that illustrate the scope of the problem.

On the whole, the bourgeoisie have transferred the burdens of the economic crisis onto the workers and have waged a more fierce attack on them. The working class is forced to rise up and resist. But as workers have become a weak social group in recent years, and with the deprivation of basic rights prescribed by our country’s constitution, they are in the sad situation where their deaths are unanswered, their strikes unsupported, and their grievances unheard. According to our country’s constitution, particularly the four basic principles and the basic rights accorded to citizens, we issue the following appeal to address the current situation and problems.1

First, we should firmly support workers in Foshan Honda and other factories in their just struggles for survival and against oppression. Article 33 of our country’s constitution states, “the state respects and ensures human rights.” The right to strike is an inseparable part of human rights and is also a basic civic right prescribed by constitutions around the world. We firmly support all reasonable demands that Honda workers have raised so as to change their harsh working conditions and low wages. We are strongly opposed to the management’s threat to fire workers. The two leaders who were fired should be immediately given back their jobs.

We believe that our call will be supported by all those who uphold the authority of the constitution, respect human rights and stand for justice.

Second, we should demand Foxconn and other similar enterprises to immediately stop their inhumane and harshly exploitative management methods. We demand that the management respect workers’ integrity and dignity, obey the state laws, improve working conditions, strictly implement a 8-hour working day and compensate workers’ for overtime. They must ensure that workers are paid wages that are enough for their own sustenance and their reproduction. This is the only way to ameliorate labor-capital conflicts and reduce or prevent the so-called “psychological” problems. To elide the fundamental labor-capital contradiction by one-sidedly emphasizing “psychological counseling” is to intentionally cover up the contradiction and to confuse cause with effect. It has been reported by the media that some who committed suicide also showed signs of bodily injuries caused by beating. There was also suspicion of some being pushed off buildings. These already warrant a criminal investigation. Government agencies should deal with it seriously and find out the truth.

Third, unions should clearly stand on the side of the working class to represent and uphold the interests of the working class as prescribed by the constitution. If any union organization ignores the constitution and “take the boss’ shillings and do the boss’ bidding,” then they will be spurned by the working class. The leadership of the union in each enterprise must be democratically elected by its members. Relatives and representatives of the bosses should not be allowed to take any leadership position in the union. If such a case is found, it should not be approved by the union at higher levels. The union at higher levels should instead help such enterprise-based unions organize an all-members meeting and help rebuild the enterprise’s union through democratic election.

Fourth, government at all levels, particularly the local government should protect civic rights by strictly following the law, earnestly resolve labor-capital conflicts and ensure citizens’ freedom of speech. Government should administer according to the law and should prevent and stop incidents that violate basic civic rights prescribed by article 33 of the constitution and other related regulations. It should actively deal with cases of labor-capital conflicts according to the law. Ignoring workers’ reasonable demands either through inaction or siding with management should be resolutely corrected. In order to ensure people’s right to information and right to supervision, media should be allowed to freely and truthfully report on labor-capital conflicts and other cases and convey people’s voices without obstruction and interference.

Fifth, we call for the restoration of the working class as the leading class of our country and the re-establishment of socialist public ownership as the mainstay in our national economy. Article 1 of our country’s constitution states, “The People’s Republic of China is a socialist state led by the working class on the basis of a worker-peasant alliance.” Article 6 of the constitution states, “The basis of socialist economy of the People’s Republic of China is socialist public ownership of means of production, that is, all people’s ownership and laborers’ collective ownership.” “In the primitive phase of socialism, the state should build an economic system with public ownership as the mainstay and co-development of the economy through other ownership forms. Distribution should be based mainly on each according to his/her labor, with co-existence of other distributive methods.” The Chinese Communist Party must be the real vanguard of the working class, strengthen its leadership of the people’s polity, and reinforce the people’s democratic dictatorship. We call for a reestablishment of public ownership as the principle part of the national economy. Only in this way can workers, peasants and people in general become masters of enterprises and the country and truly implement a distribution system primarily based on labor contribution. At present, it is imperative to improve working conditions and increase wages and benefits in the private economy (funded by domestic and foreign investments). It is completely just to actively support workers’ struggles towards that end. But in so far as the capitalist privately-owned economy rather than the socialist publicly-owned economy dominates, the working class cannot change their weak position under structures of exploitation, nor the unfair distribution system and the disparity between the rich and poor. Under this condition, it is also impossible to transform our export-oriented economy to one that is independent, self-reliant and seeks to satisfy the material and cultural needs of people in the country.

Based on the present conditions, it will only be through a long-term struggle that the working class can restore its leadership position and the national economy can be transformed into one primarily based on public ownership. We have the guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought and have the constitution, particularly the four basic principles at its core, as our legal instrument. All members of the Communist Party and all people should abide by the constitution. The socialist modernization that we uphold fits the interest of the broadest range of people and corresponds with historical development of mankind. If all people who support socialism, love their country, and abide by the constitution are united and persistent, then through a long-term struggle, we will be able to realize our goal.

Li Chengrui (Former Director of the State Statistic Bureau)
Gong Xiantian (Professor of Beijing University)
Han Xiya (Former Alternate Secretary of the Secretariat of All-China Federation of Trade Unions)
Liu Rixin (Former Researcher at the State Planning Commission)
Zhao Guangwu (Professor at Beijing University)