BOTH THE DOCKERS' trade union and the bosses are claiming victory in the Australian waterfront strike we reported in our last issue. The owners of Patricks, the major dock firm, had sacked all 1,400 employees. Their aim was to smash the Maritime Union of Australia and reduce pay rates. The government backed Patricks to the hilt and Patricks spent $100 million on their union busting operation.
Patricks have had to remove all its scabs from the ports and agree to pay all the union's legal costs. The MUA has survived but has agreed to 628 'voluntary redundancies', speed-up for the rest, and the contracting out of another 200 jobs. Now P+O Ports are looking for similar concessions.
The government was beaten, the bosses took a hammering. But with all the mass pickets, promises of sympathy strikes and public support for the dockers, how did the union fail to win more?
Like with the British miners in the 1980s, major attacks by the bosses and the state can not be beaten in a piecemeal fashion with each group of workers fighting its own battles. Only a united fightback, where sympathy is turned into action, can defeat the a united assault by the ruling class.
Mumia Abu Jamal is a Black political prisoner on Death Row in the US. Before being jailed he worked as a journalist and continued to publish articles from inside prison. The prison authorities have attempted to prevent him doing this. The US wants Mumia silenced so they can execute him without the national and international protests that halted their last attempt.
On August 25th 1998, a three judge federal appeals panel unanimously found that the Department of Corrections had violated the rights of Mumia Abu-Jamal when they punished him for publishing materials and recording commentaries for broadcast. They also found that they had opened his privileged mail from his attorneys, and had forwarded copies to the Office of the General Counsel - "the office charged with advising the Governor of Pennsylvania on among other things, signing death warrants". Three letters had even been forwarded directly to the Governor's office.