Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Victory for Ark Tribe

Adelaide construction worker Ark Tribe has had charges laid against him by the bosses' mongrel "watchdog" the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) dismissed.

Ark had attended a stop-work meeting on a worksite at Flinders University over safety issues on May 30, 2008. He subsequently refused to attend a secret interrogation as required by the ABCC where he would have been questioned about what his mates had said at the meeting.

For this heinous "crime" he faced a mandatory six-month jail sentence.

Every time Ark has faced the courts over a period spanning eighteen months, workers around the country have stopped work and held rallies of support. The rallies have been attended by the staff and members of heaps of other unions as well.

The ABCC was created by the conservative Howard Government to break Ark's union, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU). The social democratic "Labor" Party of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, despite having promised to scrap the ABCC if elected, instead maintained it and have presided over its victimisation and intimidation of workers in the building industry.

Yesterday was the culmination of a mass campaign of support for Ark Tribe and for the defeat and repeal of the ABCC and its coercive powers. Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) national president Ged Kearney (above) spoke at a pre-hearing rally attended by several thousand workers and pledged Ark the continuing support of organised workers should he be sent to jail. She laughingly dismissed criticism of the CFMEU as a "rough and ready mob" and said that as President of the Australian Nursing Federation she had always found them to be the most reliable and supportive union.

CFMEU national president Dave Noonan (above) presented Ark a print-out of 2500 online messages of support. Messages of support had come in from friends around the world -from Asia, Europe and the United States.

SA Secretary of the CFMEU, Martin O'Malley (above left) drew parallels between the laws that had created and maintained the ABCC with the emergence of fascism in Nazi Germany and said the CFMEU would fight to "overturn the rotten laws that have spawned this evil situation".

Ark then introduced himself, as he always has at rallies, "as the proud father of Jake", acknowledging the teenage son who has stood at his side throughout. Thanking his workmates and his "family" at the Builders Labourers Federation Social Club for their support, he was embraced by SA Unions Secretary Janet Giles and then proceeded to recite the Oath of the Eureka Rebellion of 1854, saying "I swear to stand by by mates to defend our rights and liberties!"

With several thousand workers at his side, Ark took his final walk across the road to the Adelaide Magistrate's Court to hear the verdict on his case. Cheers broke out in the court as Magistrate David Whittle dismissed the charges on the grounds that they had not been laid by an authorised person!
Well, it was a technical knockout against the ABCC, but we were happy to take it!

"We got 'em!" said a jubilant Ark Tribe as he emerged from the court with both arms raised. "A victory for working Australians!"
Challenging the so-called "Labor Party" he added "To Julia Gillard and the Government - which side are you on???

SA Unions secretary Janet Giles welcomed Ark and the dismissal of charges against him on the steps of the Magistrates Court.
"However," she told the workers, "it doesn't change the fact that the laws which created this mess continue to exist, and other workers could face the same dreadful process that Ark tribe has just endured."
The ACTU's Kearney described the decision as "an important victory for the union movement in its fight against the ABCC".
"This is another nail in the coffin of the ABCC," she said, "another absolute step up in our campaign to have it abolished."

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