Australian union leader warns of eruption of working class struggle


Australian union leader warns of eruption of working class struggle

Mike Head

20 December 2018

This week’s three-day Australian Labor Party national conference in Adelaide ended as it began, with anxious warnings that rising “anger and frustration” in the working class could erupt out of the control of the party and its trade union partners.

“The trade union movement in our country is sounding an alarm,” Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary Sally McManus told the conference at the start of her speech on Tuesday. “Working people are crying out for action on insecure work and crying out for fair pay rises.”

Sally McManus

McManus invoked the spectre of a literal tsunami of social unrest. “The trade union movement is an early warning sign of the tremors before the waves meet the coast,” McManus pleaded. “We must take action now.”

The union bureaucrats are well aware that millions of workers are outraged by soaring social inequality, falling real wages and the destruction of full-time jobs, accompanied by rising rates of casualisation and the ripping up of previously hard-won working conditions.

Discontent is building up among young workers, who are suffering the worst exploitation in what the corporate media dubs the new “gig economy.” Only half of 25-year-old workers have full-time work, despite 60 percent having tertiary education qualifications.

McManus’s prominent role at the conference, and the content of her presentation, pointed to how closely the party and union leaders are working together to try to suppress working class discontent and channel it behind the return of yet another pro-business Labor government.

The ACTU leader was given pride of place on the speakers’ list, and received a standing ovation from the…

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