(This article has been created from a comment posted on candobetter because it contains important industrial relations news.) Update, 09:33AM, 18 Aug 2013: Irish MP Clare Daly has tweeted "Well done to Bob Carnegie & the CFMEU for their historic victory for trade unionists in Australia, ..."
The ABC reported at 1.20PM today, followed by Brisbane's Courier Mail and The Australian that "Contempt of Court" charges against Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) organiser Bob Carnegie were dismissed by Federal Court Magistrate in Brisbane.
The charges arose as a result of Bob Carnegie attempting to enforce a picket line at the Children's Hospital then under construction in Brisbane against an attempt by the anti-union employer AbiGroup to deny union rights to workers working there.
This is a monumental win for Australian trade unions, whose rights have been eroded since former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser criminalised much trade union activity with his Sections 45D and 45E of the Trade Practises Act. Under the legislation, it became a criminal offence for workers to take industrial action against an employer other than their own. So, action by workers in one workplace in solidarity with another work place was forbidden.
Vietnamese refugees were also used to undermine trade union militancy, particularly in the Melboune Postal exchange, where many were employed.
The 'Labor' Governments of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, which ruled Australia from 1983 until 1996 and began the transformation of Australia into a neoliberal "free market" economy, chose not to repeal these laws. As a result, Liberal Prime Minister John Howard attempted to break the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) in 1998 having little fear that other unions would give effective industrial support to the MUA.
Fortunately, a determined campaign by the Australian community, including the families of seafarers and wharfies, defeated Howard's attempt to break the union. It was also helped by a the New Zealand Seafarers' Union refusing to work on on a ship which had been loaded by scab labour.
Sadly, as recorded in The Latham Diaries (2005) collaboration by unconscionable Labor politicians, including the current Australian foreign Minister Bob Carr, enabled John Howard to rort his way back into office in 1998, 2001 an 2004.
Following his 2004 election, John Howard made another attempt to break the trade unions when he introduced his "Work Choices" legislation, for which he had obtained no electoral mandate, into Federal Parliament. He then spent $124 million of taxpayers' money on propaganda campaign to promote "Work Choices". #MfFn3" id="MfTxt3">3
Fortunately, the "Your rights at work" campaign of the trade union movement made it difficult fro ruthless employers to take advantage of these laws and helped to swing public opinion so decisively against John Howard that he not only lost government in the 2007 elections, but also lost his own seat of Wentworth to Labor Party candidate Maxine McKew
Update, 16 August: "case dismissed," but fight not entirely over
#comments">"Fellow workers, comrades – case dismissed. WE WON!" of 16 Aug 2013 :
The fight isn’t entirely over, as Bob still faces a civil case brought against him by Abigroup, but today’s news is a huge victory.
We’ll post more news and reaction later, but for now, a huge thank you to all our supporters across the world who’ve helped keep up the pressure and maintain the profile of the campaign.
#MfFn1" id="MfFn1">1 #MfTxt1">↑ As an example, see Malcolm Fraser on Coalition asylum plans: no limits to the inhumanity in the Guardian of 16 Aug 2013.
#MfFn2" id="MfFn2">2 #MfTxt2">↑ One example is refugees from Vietnam. Prior to 1975, these Vietnamese refugees had sided with occupying Australian and American military forces in the war against their own people (and, before that, the French colonists and Japanese occupiers). During the war, much of the country was destroyed as bombs with the explosive capacity equivalent to 640 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs were dropped on Vietnam (in addition what was dropped on neighbouring Laos and Cambodia) and much of the Vietnamese jungle was destroyed with "Agent Orange" defoliant sprayed from above. Nick Turse, author of Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (1913) estimates that 2.3 million Vietnamese civilians died in the war and 5.3 million were wounded.
After the 'South' Vietnamese American puppet regime of was defeated in 1975, many of those who had supported it fled to Australia as refugees. Here they were welcomed with open arms by the then Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. As Minister for the Army after 1966 and as Minister for Defence from 1969 until 1971, he had conscripted Australians into the Army and sent them to fight in defence of the South Vietnamese dictatorship. After the refugees arrived, they formed an electoral bloc of support for Malcolm Fraser. With their help, he was able to stay in office until 1983.
#MfFn3" id="MfFn3">3 #MfTxt3">↑ This is described in Mark Latham's political gift to John Howard of 20 Nov 2007 by James Sinnamon. Sadly, Latham acted no better in 2007 than those of which he was rightly critical in The Latham Diaries. He actually opposed the trade union movement's "Your Rights at Work" campaign against "Work Choices" and called on Australians to vote for John Howard.