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Issue #1802      November 8, 2017

The Centenary flag flies atop Perth Trades Hall

As done by several Trades Halls around Australia 100 years ago, the Red Centenary flag flew atop Perth Trades Hall on 4-7 November in commemoration of the Centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution.

Under the leadership of CFMEU WA state secretary Mick Buchan, Trades Hall has been returned to the hands of those who built it. The building underwent a full refurbishment keeping in line with Heritage requirements. The award-winning design involved CFMEU members in the restoration works, such as retired member Brian Churchill, conducting major brickworks.

Other key elements involved works on the jarrah floors and staircases with all materials used in the restoration kept in line with heritage importance. The prevailing thought throughout the restoration was that it was a place for members and the community into the future. Adjacent rooms have been dedicated to honour a proud history of women’s involvement in the union movement, in honour of Indigenous struggles and another to pay tribute to well-known unionist John Cummins.

Trades Hall restoration was officially opened by CFMEU national secretary Michael O’Connor on June 29, 2014.

Many public functions have followed including recently an art exhibition dedicated to the stolen generation by Aboriginal artist and activist Robert Eggington.

On Saturday November 4 a public event was held to commemorate one of the most important events in working class politics. The function was organised by the local CPA branch and supported by the Perth branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History and the CFMEU WA.

The line-up of speakers commenced with historian Charlie Fox who gave the background of the historic events that led to the Socialist revolution in Russia but also conditions which existed at that time in Australia and how that was impacted. Hazel Buturac, daughter of trade unionist and Communist Paddy Troy spoke about her experience living in a family united throughout difficult times over several decades of economic and political pressures.

Those gathered really enjoyed her stories and photographs, in particular the story of a visit by Paul Robeson to WA. Young political activist Holly Dawson rounded up the speakers talking about the meaning of that event 100 years ago and the relevance for a activist today.

Under the banner of “Peace, Bread & Land”, Lenin and the Bolsheviks led workers in Russia to seize power on November 7, 1917 (new calendar). It was proof that workers are able to run their own destiny and own the main means of production.

The Great October Socialist Revolution had a massive impact all over the world. It gave peace, bread and land to the Russian workers and peasants who made the revolution. It gave real rights to women, protected by law.

Unions in Australia had had the experience of the 1917 strike as workers were getting organised in the workplace and in the struggle against conscription. The local media didn’t miss on reporting on the events in Russia predicting the fall of the revolution in just a few days. Workers, their unions and the Australian Labor Party Conference expressed solidarity with the Russian workers.

One important result out of the Great October Socialist Revolution was the formation of communist parties all over the world. Here at home the Communist Party of Australia, CPA was formed on October 30, 1920. Soon it will be 100 years of communist history in our Party that belongs to the Australian working class.

Next article – Goldfields residents tell of welfare fears

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