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Law change the tip of the iceberg

It was great to read the article on provocation in the Freedom Socialist Bulletin. Rob Hulls and John Thwaites have made all the right noises, but the whole of the Defence to Homicide Report needs to be adopted or the situation for women who kill after abuse will become even worse. Judges are the main culprits, as they are so out of touch with society and have no idea about domestic violence. So a judge who is sympathetic to an estranged male killer can still be lenient in the sentencing, and provocation will just get in through the back door.

We now have to stop the women getting killed in the first place. As with more and more women becoming assertive and aware that domestic violence — mental or physical — is no longer acceptable, more are going to leave and more are going to die.

Changes in the law do go some way in reflecting what society demands, but it really is the tip of the iceberg.

Jane Ashton
Research, Victoria

Trans-Tasman appreciation

I really enjoyed the last Freedom Socialist Bulletin and have circulated it around to other leftwing union organisers and to the International Women’s Day Committee members. The feedback from everyone has been really positive.

The article about how to fight Howard’s industrial relations laws is really relevant for the union movement here in New Zealand. I particularly appreciated Debbie Brennan’s article on the struggle for women’s liberation. It was great to see the history of International Women’s Day included as well.

Kirsty McCully
Auckland, New Zealand

A veteran’s experience

I want to congratulate you immensely on the progressive, and thought-provoking way in which you operate.

I dealt with many disputes during my fifty years’ association with the Amalgamated Engineers Union (AEU) and from 1968 the AMWU.

In 1951, I joined the AEU as a fitter. At that time the union was involved in a vicious struggle with BA Santamaria and the National Civic Council. They were militant Catholics and very much opposed to our union’s leadership with its Communist organisers in New South Wales and Victoria.

We were still an English union at this time and were basically controlled from the UK. There was a UK rule banning printed material being placed on union notice boards. The Santamaria organisation also had employers feeding them money to assist with the destruction of trade union militancy. This went on until 1965 – 66 when the Ironworkers Union, which had affiliated with Santamaria and the Democratic Labor Party (DLP), forced court-controlled union ballots.

The DLP fought an election for the Federal Secretary of the AEU, and they used the kids in schools to copy all of the how-to-vote documents. We had to do likewise because of the rule about no printed material. We organised a national hand-written how-to-vote ticket which was sent to 80,000 voters. The Santamaria mob also sent 80,000 hand-written how-to-vote cards. The Left’s Federal Secretary was returned to office with a majority of more than 1,000 and it was that fight which really started the decline of the anti-communist activity in our union. The DLP did gain control of our federal body for two years before we finally got them out.

I had joined the ALP in 1953 to become a state conference delegate so that we could act as a team with the 20 other unions which supported the Left.

I am telling you this because we will soon be faced with the biggest struggle socialists and trade unions have ever had.

I am 83 years of age and I remember well the takeover of the German people by Hitler and the introduction of National Socialism. This is where we may again be heading.

Unity is very difficult to achieve, as leaderships are often split. Craig Johnston was in prison and had I been with him, knowing what I know about Skilled Engineering, I would probably have been in prison too. But in 1969, Clarrie O’Shea had the whole Australian union movement ready to support him, and the unions won it when the employers paid the fine and the Penal Powers Unity is very difficult to achieve, as leaderships are often split. Craig Johnston was in prison and had I been with him, knowing what I know about Skilled Engineering, I would probably have been in prison too. But in 1969, Clarrie O’Shea had the whole Australian union movement ready to support him, and the unions won it when the employers paid the fine and the Penal Powers were never used again.

I sincerely hope that the Freedom Socialist Bulletin continues to produce the heart-warming material that I so much enjoy. I have enclosed a small donation.

Frank Self
Highton, Victoria

Disability rights are workers’ rights

My experience as a Disability Support Pensioner (DSP) and a client with the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service (CRS) in the late 1990s provide useful insights about how the Howard Government’s so-called “Welfare to Work” agenda will be used to drive down the wages and conditions of all workers.

I joined the CRS in the late ’90s after being diagnosed with schizophrenia. I went for a number of jobs. The service offered as a sweetener to employers — one of which was the Brunswick postal dispatch centre — that they could choose from five different agreements for how I could be employed with a subsidy from the government.

Consistently, all employers chose the option that I work for the DSP and that the government would foot the bill for any medical costs, should I be injured.

The propaganda goes that workers and greedy unions rort the system. But from bitter experience, these corporate criminals rorted the system and exploited me.

Welfare recipients are also exploited by the institution of sheltered workshops. These are a perfect model for the government to super-exploit people with disabilities after they introduce their streamlining of benefits. I worked in a sheltered workshop for three weeks. I was multiskilled and earned $32 for a 40-hour working week.

This exploitation of people with disabilities will impact on able-bodied workers. Disabled workers will be forced to take low-waged jobs, which will be used to drag everyone’s conditions down.

It will be even worse for women who already work in the lowest-paid jobs. Currently, 20% of women in Australia are disabled. This group of workers will be dragged onto Newstart if they can work for 15 hours, and this will drag conditions down for women workers in general.

Already the government has announced that from July 2006, if a single parent on the Parenting Payment has a child over six  years of age, they will be put on Newstart with stringent requirements and must work for 15 hours per week. It is estimated that the government will save $900 million.

Generally, welfare recipients are in the firing line where the government intends to move us off welfare support and into the general workforce to do insecure and low-paid jobs.

Disability rights are workers’ rights and therefore union rights. We cannot compartmentalise disability rights, women’s rights, and workers’ rights, especially the fight that the organised workers’ movement is going to have to make in the face of the onslaught of Australian imperialism.

Craig Hall,
Coburg, Victoria

Islamic Republic of Iran: The sham election and the Right’s velvet coup

The second round of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s presidential election circus was held on Friday, June 24, 2005. The Islamic Republic and western media, namely the BBC and CNN, claimed that a large number of people participated to legitimise and justify the regime. In contrast, even some of the Islamic regime’s candidates openly complained about fraud and swindle and begged the “supreme leader” to intervene.

We have received reports which clearly reveal that large numbers boycotted the election sham and continued their protests and demonstrations wherever they could. The regime’s efforts to legitimise itself failed and resulted in a velvet coup. The Islamic regime strove to unify itself against the people’s movement, but its crisis is incurable. With this election, the regime has become more fragile and vulnerable in its confrontation with the people’s revolutionary movement.

Ahmadinejad’s “election” represents the regime’s desperation. The most reactionary core of the leadership brought him to power, based on an accurate assessment that Rafsanjani could not push back the popular movement and lessen the government’s crisis but under the futile illusion that its Hezbollah candidate could.

The other result of the “election” was the increased legitimacy for radical and revolutionary policies. It became evident to all that reform of the Islamic regime is absurd. With this “election,” the last illusions and hopes of improving the situation in any way other than via revolution and radical change were lost and the Left and radical perspective gained ground amongst the people.

Freedom, Equality and Workers’ Rule!
Long Live Revolution!
For a Socialist Republic!

Worker-Communist Party of Iran