Biggest workers’ protest ever - united we will win

[Statement by Socialist Alliance National Executive Nov 16, 2005]

The tremendous display on November 15-16 of mass opposition to the Howard government’s attacks on workers and trade unions showed the deep desire of working people across the country to resist - and stop - the Coalition’s attacks.

At least 600,000 people (reports are still coming in) met, rallied and marched around the country on November 15 and 16 - double the number mobilised in the last national actions against the IR changes held on June 30/July 1. Many workers risked fines or dismissal to participate.

The Socialist Alliance congratulates everyone who participated in this important day of defiance.
Some of the rallies - in Melbourne, Adelaide, Geelong, Wollongong and many other regional centres - were the biggest workers’ protests in living memory. The magnificent rally of a quarter of a million people in Melbourne, which was called early and build strongly by the Victorian Trades Hall Council, showed what is possible when the union movement and the broader community join forces to give a voice to the overwhelming majority in this country who oppose Howard’s attacks.

Many meetings and rallies unanimously passed resolutions calling on the ALP to repeal all of Howard’s anti-worker and anti-union laws when next elected to federal government, and specifically to abolish AWAs; advocating industrial action as part of the next round of protests against the laws; and committing to act in solidarity with any worker or trade union targeted under the new laws.

In Geelong, the huge rally of 35,000 adopted a motion that:

1. Calls on the ACTU and VTHC to organise a national stoppage and protests early in the New Year as the next step in the campaign against this legislation;
2. Strongly encourages individual unions to organise their own mass meetings and actions as part of the overall campaign; and
3. Pledges to offer full support to the first unionist, union and/or worksite targeted under these laws.

The Coalition government and the corporate bosses have tried to dismiss the nationwide actions as irrelevant, but the spirit and confidence of working people around the country to fight back, to stop the new laws in their tracks, got a big boost.

In his Sky Channel broadcast to the meetings and rallies, ACTU head Greg Combet pledged to “fight until we win”. The biggest ever workers’ protests on November 15 show that we can win.
With further mass protest actions early next year, combined with coordinated industrial action, and a preparedness to join together to fight every attack on every job, every working condition and every union, we can make the political and economic price too high for Howard and the bosses to implement their draconian new laws.

When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty and the Socialist Alliance - our union members and leaders, students, and unemployed or retired workers - pledges to continue to wholeheartedly help build the emerging fight-back, to resist every attempt to implement the anti-worker laws, and in the process to help rebuild a strong, democratic and fighting union movement in this country.

Sue Bolton, Craig Johnston, Tim Gooden, Dick Nichols, Sam Watson, David Glanz, Peter Boyle, Melanie Sjoberg, Alison Thorne, Dave Riley, Pip Hinman, Mark Lockett, Alex Miller, Kieran Latty and Lisa Macdonald.