Contributed by Joe Montero
The concerted attack on the Victorian secretary of the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) is a gross violation of some basic principles.
Yes. John Setka did have some arguments with his wife during the time they were separated. And he did plead guilty to inappropriate behaviour towards her during that time.
Anyone who has gone through this sort of traumatic experience, appreciates that it it brings emotional turmoil, that it complicated, and often generates with both men and women, responses that are out of character.
This in no way justifies bad behaviour towards women. But to use this as a vehicle to attack an individual to further an unrelated agenda, is a disgrace. It belongs in the gutter.
Continuing to peddle the allegation that Setka denigrated Rosie Batty at a meeting, when there are no credible witnesses, and others who were there say it didn’t happen, is not about seeking justice.
It is about carrying out a political vendetta. giving it quarter is to particpate in this political vendetta being driven by the enemies of the union movement.
When major developers and the Coalition ride on allegations like these, it makes a certain sense. The union has had a degree of success in defending jobs, pay and conditions that would be hard to match in any other industry.
Developers and the government they are so cosy with, hold that those who work in the industry take too much and the employers too little. They want to redivide the cake, and to do so, they must make the leadership more compliant and tame the union.
It is something different altogether, when leader of a political party that claims to stand up for the workers uses this as an opportunity to rebrand his party as more like the Liberals.
Saying this might make some people a little uncomfortable. It must be said anyway.
Anthony Albanese’s attack on John Setka is inseparable from the move to rebrand Labor to make it more acceptable to the big end of town, and to market that a range of policies important to Labor Party members and supporters must be reversed, as being the only way to win government.
What would be the point anyway, if it means being a government that imitates what the Coalition does when it’s in government?
It won’t work anyway, and is more likely to cause disillusionment.
Labor has the right to decide who its members and leaders are. The same right applies to other organisations, and this includes unions. Putting external pressure to remove someone is wrong, and a violation of the labour movement’s principle of democratic control.
Protecting each other has always been a pillar of the union movement, and has played a major part in delivering rights inside and outside the workplace.
Precisely when these rights are under greater threat than they have been for a long time, there are those who do not have the balls to stand up for them and are falling over themselves to surrender.
Just a few more words. The rise of gossip as a political weapon is causing considerable problems. The expansion of social media has provided a platform for scoundrels, who use gossip to manipulate others.
For example. Women are not always treated well by men. This must be taken on. But there can never be justification for using this principle to hoodwink people into believing the interests of women are being protected, when nothing could be further from the truth.
It is not John Setka but those who fail to stand for principle, who have paved the way for a serious attack on the ongoing existence of unions.
The Ensuring Integrity Bill is an important part of this attack. Unlike normal laws, which at the very least apply equally to all on paper, this one is deliberately directed towards only unions. It is not meant to be applied to those in business and politicians, where allegations of corruption and other forms of wrongdoing are rife.
The reality is that any union official or delegate properly representing his or her members and carrying out their wishes, must operate under the the difficult conditions of the Fair Work Australia Act, deliberately designed to be discriminatory against unions.
Inthe Act’s application, unions and their representatives are routinely charged and brought before the court. Employers, their organisations and representatives almost never are.
It means union officials and delegates who properly represent the members, will eventually be charged and found guilt of an offense. If it gets up, many will be barred form holding positions, and this could achieve the ambition of rendering the union movement totally ineffective.
Those who join in the John Setka bashing, whether they are conscious of it or not, are actually helping to bring this about.
An end to this bashing is needed, and this must be replaced by a willingness to stand to stand together against the real threat.