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Issue #1666      November 26, 2014

Editorial

The struggle will sharpen

The cutting back and privatisation of all arms of government is happening at an increasing rate. It is accompanied by attacks on public sector workers: on their wages and conditions and their very jobs. When earlier this month the Abbott government announced a “pay increase” that is below the cost of living and hence a pay cut for military personnel it was a signal of what was to come for the whole public service.

The government was using what Abbott is fond of calling “the brave men and women of the Australian Defence Force” as a club to beat up the whole of the public service. Workplace agreements for 165,000 public servants in more than 100 agencies ended in June. In the negotiating process the military is always the last sector to sign off. This time it was the first. In industrial matters the defence force has no defence: it cannot take action against the government.

But public sector workers aren’t taking it lying down. Last week Human Services staff voted overwhelmingly for industrial action in protest at a proposal that will see two thirds of their rights stripped and cuts to an annual pay offer of less than 1%. An industrial action ballot at Veteran Affairs is underway. In a statement the Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Nadine Flood stated: “Bargaining across the public service has become a battleground as workers face wholesale cuts to their conditions and rights in return for a pay offer under 1%.” (See “Employment Dept staff likely to reject ‘nasty’ deal” this issue.)

The national broadcaster is also in the wide net, being hit by a slash and burn offensive that will hit news and current affairs and much more (see “Defend the ABC” this issue).

The government knows that the resultant savage exploitation and unemployment, the cutbacks and neo-liberal policies are causing widespread anger and opposition. Hence the increased powers to the police and spy agencies.

Fascism is characterised as the “terrorist dictatorship of finance capital”. We already have the dictatorship of finance capital. As the Australian people more and more reject the policies and the consequences of the policies being dictated by the big corporations the class struggle will sharpen. This is the nature of the class system in which we live.

Rationalising the system

In 2001 the then industrial relations minister in the Howard government, Tony Abbott, stated, “We can’t abolish poverty because poverty, in part, is a function of individual behaviour … We can’t stop people from making mistakes that cause them to be less well-off than they might otherwise be.”

So, if you are poor and cannot make ends meet, if your children go to school with holes in their shoes, or if you lose your job and get thrown out of your house it is not the fault of the employer or economic policies or the social system or the landlord – it is the result of your own “behaviour” or that you have made “mistakes”.

This attitude reflects Abbott’s and his government’s utter contempt for working people. It is also reflected in the vicious budget they are attempting to impose on Australian workers, the working poor, the unemployed, the elderly and in general on the most vulnerable.

This is the system Abbott is perpetuating, a system based on theft, a system which is by definition corrupt to its core. Witness the ICAC investigations in NSW, a glimpse of a wider dysfunction of gross exploitation and warmongering, all in the name of democracy and freedom.

As the great Communist poet Nazim Hikmet put it:

“You love your country
But one day
they may endorse it over to America
and you, too, with your great freedom
you have the freedom to become an airbase
there is no need to choose freedom
you are free.
But this kind of freedom
is a sad affair under the stars.”

Next article – Employment Dept staff likely to reject “nasty” deal

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