#StrikeColes v.2.0 : NUW 1 Coles/Toll 1 (w/- BONUS! HSU & SDA & WTF &…)


The two-week long strike at the Coles/Toll warehouse and distribution centre ended on Monday with both Coles/Toll and the NUW declaring victory. Thus:

In the end, the striking workers got most of what they had asked for.

Their union argued it was a win for workers, while Toll said tonight that it was little more than a re-working of the cash offer it put on the table before the strike began.

Toll’s Andrew Ethell said the value of what Toll had been offering its workforce through the two-week-long battle had not changed. “It remains an effective four per cent annual wage rise over three years,” he said.

The negotiated settlement had been achieved by shuffling the structure of how wages and conditions were allocated, he said, “effectively reducing some conditions in order to be able to increase others”.

Patrick O’Connor — recently a candidate in the Victorian state by-election in Melbourne (where he received 156 votes or 0.57%) — expresses his distaste for the NUW in ‘Union shuts down warehouse strike, imposes sell out’ (wsws.org. July 25, 2012). According to Patrick, the NUW sold the workers out. “After deliberately isolating and wearing down the workers, while allowing Coles to avoid any significant disruption to its business by stepping up operations in other warehouses, the NUW rammed through a regressive enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) that meets none of the workers’ central demands.” Elsewhere, Victorian employers expressed disappointment at the failure by police to smash the picket. “The capacity to freely enter and exit a business premises remains a fundamental right and businesses should not be forced to launch expensive legal action in order to do so. The Victoria Police must play its part in upholding and enforcing the law where court orders are obtained because the ramifications for all businesses are frightening if it does not.”

On a spotterly note:

…the NUW was backed by the pseudo-left organisations. Socialist Alternative functioned as the chief cheerleader for the union bureaucracy throughout the dispute; now the organisation has hailed the sell-out as a “victory.” The Socialist Party is yet to write on the outcome, but it posted an article on its web site on Monday, just hours before the agreement was imposed, urging the Victorian Trades Hall to organise flying pickets at every Coles warehouse and to “mobilise all their affiliates and call for a mass community assembly at Altona tomorrow.” After these pathetic entreaties to the union bureaucracy, the Socialist Party regretfully concluded: “Disappointingly the NUW leaders have so far responded at a glacial pace.”


One union bureaucracy that’s in heap ’em big trouble is the HSU (East). Apparently, several thousand of its members have failed to renew their memberships after revelations that its leadership, especially the union’s (former) boss, Michael Williamson, may have been slightly greedy and possibly even engaged in some corrupt and nepotistic practices(!). Former HSU boss Craig Thomson has his own battles, of course, some of them playing themselves out on the ah, Internets, especially Wikipedia. For what it’s worth, I think the most sensible solution would be for Thomson to go on a study tour of the United States (and possibly Cancún) to find out how the intarweb works and — in accordance with the requirements of Clause 9.2(b) of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2006/18 — submit a statement reporting on his overseas study travel.

SDA! Here to stay!

In other news, Australia’s biggest and bestest union the SDA has successfully applied to FWA for a six-month adjournment to EBA negotiations with pizza chain Domino’s (see : Anarchists Deliver Fair Pizza, Conal Thwaite, newmatilda.com, June 15, 2012). This is plusgood news for both Domino’s and the SDA but ungood news for workers covered by the agreement, which now dates back to 2001. The best news is of course that Domino’s is now ranked 6th among Queensland-based businesses, its market capitalisation now estimated to be $289 million, an increase of 69.7%.

More on that later. In the meantime, a group of workers has decided to form a ‘General Transport Workers Association’ to see if a more direct and democratic approach to union organising is possible. (See also : SDA : Australia’s Worst Union? (November 30, 2009).)

Finally, the IWW has a new branch in Radelaide and Wobblies in Melbourne have a blog. In Queensland, in response to the LNP’s attacks on the public sector, a Workers’ Audit is being undertaken. One “written by angry workers’ for angry workers”, the audit “is an attempt to provide information and analysis on the LNP’s attacks on us all”. See also : An Appeal to Reason: the future for maritime workers and the MUA | Unite.


About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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4 Responses to #StrikeColes v.2.0 : NUW 1 Coles/Toll 1 (w/- BONUS! HSU & SDA & WTF &…)

  1. LeftInternationalist says:

    Well, of course the wsws would say that. Anything not led or organised by themselves is ‘pseudo-left’ or misleading the working class. They shout ‘Betrayal! Betrayal!’ hoping that it will drown out rigourous analysis. Thankfully, they are entirely insignificant on the Australian scene.

  2. @ndy says:

    Well yeah. According to the SEP/ICFI, SA, SAlt, Solidarity and SP are all ‘pseudo-left’ organisations; the AWL is ‘ex-left’ or ‘ex-radical’. The SLA doesn’t appear to share this fate, but is instead denounced as ‘middle class’ and ‘petit-bourgeois’ (as are, of course, the pseudos), the CPA is merely derided as being Stalinist, while the CPA(ML) is more or less ignored (as is the RSP). So, I’m not sure, but it may be that, in the opinion of the ICFI/SEP, the only real left organisation is… the SEP/ICFI. Otoh, given that this mob is the world leadership of the socialist movement, I guess they can afford to be a little arrogant amirite?

    Maybe I’ll ask Patrick O’Connor on Twitter.

    Still, even if the world leadership of the socialist movement is a little bit wonky in the head, its analysis of the strike and its outcome seems fairly straightforward.

  3. LeftInternationalist says:

    Aren’t the AWL confined to one city in Australia? It’s a shame, cause they’re nowhere near as sectarian and off the deep end as the SEP/ICFI. I read the Workers Liberty website (not the Australian section – do they even have a website?) and their paper Solidarity quite often, and find their analysis quite rigorous and balanced, even when I disagree with them. And they actually debate with other currents on the left, rather than just slamming them all the time (although they do like to slam the UK SWP all the time). I’m really enjoying reading Kropotkin at the moment. Got his Memoirs and Conquest of Bread. Good stuff. Victor Serge’s memoirs were as good as I hoped. Onto his novels!

  4. @ndy says:

    Yeah pretty much. In this respect it’s a bit like Volksfront (tho’ the AWL, unlike VF, hasn’t been informed by a rival sect that it’ll be bitch-slapped if it oversteps the boundary). I don’t think that the Australian franchise has its own website, but the parent body’s site has a dedicated section. Re proclivity for debate, yeah I guess, but apart from anything else this is a product of sect history, and an orientation towards other Trot groups (a bit like the CPGB).

    Jim Higgins:

    The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty has developed from a couple of fusions with the Matgamnaite core that was defused from IS. First with the Left Faction, who were expelled from IS in 1974, and later with Alan Thornett’s group the Workers Socialist League. Strange to relate, for a man who was a serial expellee from the SLL, the RSL and IS and complained bitterly at this cavalier treatment, Sean had a fairly short way with his own dissenters, and before too long the Left Faction took on an independent role as Workers Power and Alan Thornett was working elsewhere on a less taxing project. The AWL’s journal Workers’ Liberty, has a spurious air of openness that is in fact a stratagem to solicit contrary opinions and then subject them to such a remorseless weight of Matgamna’s polemic as to make the peine forte et dure seem like a pleasurable alternative.

    For group gurus, the organisation is an extension of their personality. Like some corner shopkeeper they retain it to themselves, defending their control with a fervour that can spill over into savagery. It fulfils their everyday needs, and nourishes their fantasies in a milieu in which they are definitely more equal than others. Matgamna is just such a case in point, and as editor of Workers’ Liberty he ensures that hardly an issue passes without an article of wearisome length and dubious relevance from his hand. In addition, and this has got to come close to abuse of privilege, he frequently puts in one of his own poems – and the most we can say about that is that Ireland now has its own champion to compete on equal terms with Scotland’s William McGonagall.

    Matgamna’s poetry is a w e s o m e.

    See also : NEW ON UNKANT: Jim Higgins: More Years for the Locust – The Origins of the SWP, June 26, 2012 | The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty:
    Britain’s Revolutionary Imperialist
    s, Tony Greenstein, What Next?, No.30 (2005).

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