Construction workers are conducting a magnificent fight for their rights at work against the Grocon company.
Grocon boss Daniel Grollo has reneged on a verbal agreement with the CFMEU and has denied workers the right to wear union apparel and to elect their own shop stewards and safety officers. His rules are enforced by thugs previously employed as bouncers.
Workers have maintained an organised blockade of the Grocon site in Melbourne for the past week.
(Above: the spirit of organised labour - If provoked, we will strike!)
When Daniel Grollo called in the cops to break this up, the workers maintained a tight collective discipline, held their ground against capsicum spray and horses, and forced the cops to retreat.
(See http://youtu.be/cMiaVB0OO1Y )
As far as the copper in charge was concerned, the behaviour of the workers was “not unreasonable”.
Yet the capitalist press and right-wing commentators have dragged out all the old clichés about industrial thuggery and union lawlessness. They call for a revival of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, the building bosses’ own Schutzstaffel or SS police.
That is to be expected.
What really infuriates - although no less to be expected – is the unhelpful role of the social-democrats. Having originally come into office on the backs of a powerful community movement in support of the ACTU campaign “Your Rights at Work”, these neoliberal “Labor” politicians had every mandate they needed to tell Grollo to pull his head in and to allow workers to enjoy rights at work.
Instead, they play the role of the “responsible” labor lieutenants of capital, bemoaning “unlawful” union behaviour and hinting darkly at punishment of the major construction union, the CFMEU.
There will be no easy victory for construction workers.
They will need to persist through difficult times and to withstand police and political intimidation.
But they are not alone.
(See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3Iu1TASSCQ&feature=colike for a rally by Sydney CFMEU members outside a Grocon site in that city)
They have friends everywhere in the ranks of the working people.