This dispute must be widened, now, if it is to succeed. ARU members must ignore the union’s Executive Officers’ sellout policy and take industrial action, both in support of the workers and for their own jobs and conditions. This government is out to get all of us and if we don’t hang together, we’ll be hung separately.
I am a lesbian feminist. Between 1979 and 1984 I worked as a locomotive assistant training to be a train driver for the Victorian Railways in Australia. At one time six women were training at South Dynon Loco and four women in country areas. Dianne Brown became qualified as a train driver in 1985. Unfortunately the other women left. The attitudes of many of the men working in the railways added to on the job pressure. I have put some of these attitudes into poetic form.
The limitations of seeking employment equality within the existing structures are clear. Equal opportunity programs only provide the option for some to get nearer to the top of an unequal system. We need to defend and extend such reforms by using them as tools to protect existing rights and gains. But reforms cannot finally redress the inequitable position of women and other oppressed groups in the labour market, let alone society as a whole.
For more than 80 years the working class in this country has been shackled to the capitalists through the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. This has held workers back, kept them impoverished, derailed their attempts to break the chains. The Accord, which is the parent of the new wage system is the latest attempt to clothe the emperor.
We must all encourage and build the leadership of the most oppressed within the struggle. This task is all to clear in the public sector where, in many industries, women are a clear majority yet, almost without exception, we are, as a group, at the bottom of the heap.