Sally McManus has got guts.
She’s the new Secretary of the Australian Council of Trades Unions (ACTU) and was elected to represent the union movement in March. On day one in the job, she demonstrated what a real trade union leader looks like:
“I believe in the rule of law where the law is fair and right but when it’s unjust, I don’t think there’s a problem with breaking it.”
That was her first interview.
Will Sally be distancing herself from the CFMEU?
“There’s no way. I’ll tell you this: the CFMEU, when they’ve been fined, they’ve been fined for taking industrial action. It might be illegal industrial action according to our current laws and our current laws are wrong.”
Sally shot back.
Unfortunately, union leaders and politicians who are prepared to call out this bullshit for what it is are few and far between.
What’s worse, Sally’s comments came as a shock to many people. She actually told the truth. “And know this: that union gets fined more than the companies that actually kill workers,” Sally said, stating the obvious.
In construction, we’ve always known that’s the case. They’ve been trying to break the CFMEU for as long as I can remember. At the same time, successive Liberal governments and some previous Labor governments have been changing the laws to rig the game.
Our industrial system is broken. It’s been broken by the successive Liberal governments who’ve bent over backwards for their mates in big business. All in the name of profits. They want to increase profits by cutting your wages, slashing your conditions and attacking workplace safety.
That’s been the play book all along: they use Parliament to change the laws; set up the ABCC to act as their attack dogs, and then appoint their lacky judges to rule our work as union officials illegal. They’ve broken the system to make it unjust.
The CFMEU has been at the forefront of a war with the Liberals and their big business mates. They hate us because we’re not afraid to fight this war and we won’t play by the rules.
I wonder how these people can live with themselves knowing that they’re destroying regular people’s livelihoods and putting lives in danger just to increase profits. It’s because they’ve never done a hard day’s work in their lives. They’ve never stood out in the summer’s heat and the winter’s cold. They’ve never laid the grey, or tied steel, or rigged from heights, or stayed back late to jump a crane. And they’ve never lost a mate or brother or a son on a building site in yet another bloody workplace tragedy.
Suffragettes broke unjust laws to win women the right to vote. When the union movement went on strike to stop iron ore being shipped to Japan before WWII, it was illegal. When the Civil Rights Movement defied racial segregation and discrimination, it was illegal. Aboriginal Australians broke the law to end segregation, win citizenship and the right to vote. When Mandela opposed the apartheid regime, it was illegal.
Sally’s right: our industrial laws are unjust.