In April 350 workers were targeted by Toyota to be made redundant at their car plant in Altona, Victoria. The company claimed to have assessed their workforce and sacked those who they rated poorly in relation to company values, how they dressed, punctuality and safety.
The truth is that the targets included union delegates, health and safety representatives, injured workers and those who spoke English as their second language. The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) said more than 50% of their delegates had been dismissed.
Those who were selected were escorted by security guards and transported in white vans off the site. One worker said he felt that he was being treated like a criminal. The AMWU have said that they will look into lodging group unfair dismissal claims, which will be a long and tedious process.
There is a desperate need for the AMWU to develop a fighting strategy to defend car workers’ jobs. This is especially the case given Toyota and the other car makers have received millions of dollars in tax payer hand outs.
Rather than conceding to sackings the union should organise industrial action to protect jobs. At the same time Toyota should be forced to open their books. Let us see where all the public subsidies and profits have gone.
Bring all the troops home
Julia Gillard announced last month that the majority of Australian troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan in the next 18 months. There are currently 1550 Australian troops stationed in that country.
Gillard emphasised that the bulk of the troops would not come home straight away, and that even after the 18 month period some troops would continue to be stationed there.
Although this announcement is being spun as an ‘early withdrawal’ it is actually not too much different to the original plan. The truth is that Gillard’s motives are far from admirable. Polls have shown that a majority of the population have supported all the troops coming home for years. Her motives are more so linked to her chances of re-election.
Clearly the presence of Australian troops in Afghanistan only adds to the instability that exists there. We need all the troops to withdraw while at the same time supporting the Afghan people to develop a political alternative to profit driven imperialism and capitalism.
Fair Work Australia has finally finished its investigation into financial mismanagement in the Heath Services Union (HSU). The enquiry also looked into the conduct of current Labor MP Craig Thomson who was the Secretary of the HSU prior to being elected to parliament.
It is alleged that Thomson stole hundreds of thousands of dollars of union money via credit card purchases. Some reports claim his credit card is linked to purchases at brothels and large cash withdrawals. The New South Wales and Victorian police are also investigating the allegations. Thomson is expected t make a statement in parliament next week.
Thomson has refused to step down from parliament while these allegations are being investigated. Clearly this is because Labor only clings onto to power by the skin of their teeth. If they lost his vote it could bring down the entire government.
Union insiders say that it is certain that Thomson is guilty of corruption. There is an urgent need for the union movement to purge corrupt officials who are misusing member’s funds. Further it shows why the union movement needs to break away from pro-ALP politics and rebuild along fighting and democratic lines. HSU members deserve better.