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Issue #1734      June 8, 2016

In the class struggle for life

I recently spoke with the national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia Veterans association, Fred Krausert, in his Newcastle office. Fred is well known in progressive circles in Newcastle and beyond. We discussed the work of the association (which has branches in every state as well as international affiliations) in furthering the interests of the working class, both working and retired.

The association has a class perspective and opposes the domination of society by the big monopoly corporations. It particularly sees the threat posed by the monopolies to the security and dignity of older, retired workers.

Fred highlighted a number of struggles the MUA Vets were active in – struggles which brought them into conflict with the agenda of big business and their control of government. Foremost among these “was the rape of the public health system by private corporations, and the disgusting attempt to profit from the health problems of the people. The association fights to retain the universal health care system of Medicare, and to extend it to include dental care.

“Everywhere Medicare is under attack from the private health insurers and the big monopoly health corporations. Health and the costs of health care are a particularly pressing problem for the older retired worker.”

Fred also spoke of the MUA Vets policy on pensions. Firstly, that pensions rather than superannuation, should form the basis of retirement income. This was seen as fairer, less discriminatory, and in the best interests of the worker and the ordinary person. Secondly, the association lobbied for the aged pension to be increased to 35% of the total average male wage (currently pensions are 27.7%).

Another area that Fred and the association are passionate about is the aged care system. As with health, big monopoly corporations (whether private, religious or NGO) are taking control of aged care, in anticipation of big profits.

The association also fully supports the MUA’s campaign for the re-establishment of a national shipping line and a national ship building industry. These industries need to be owned by the Australian government on behalf of the Australian people.

Fred’s work and the work of the MUA Vets association highlights how we must all struggle to oppose big business’s efforts to turn every facet of our lives (whether health, welfare, retirement) into a source of profit. We have to fight, but ultimately as Fred remarked in our interview, the solution lies in the working class and its allies taking control of their society and running it on the basis of the needs of the people, not the profit needs of the corporations.

* Grant Osland is Secretary of the CPA Newcastle Branch

Next article – Trumped up charges

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