Australia: Students set to strike against war…unions discuss industrial action…US navy dissent

The weekend beginning 14 February will see the biggest mobilisation of people demonstrating against war the world has ever seen. They are demonstrating against a proposed war on a devastated country where infant mortality is already ten times that of Rwanda and South Africa. Saddam is a brutal dictator, but the business of deposing him is not that of an international police thug in the form of the US military machine. It is the business of the Iraqi people, along with the solidarity of millions of people all over the world.


Socialist Party members (CWI in Australia) recently launched the Youth Against War campaign (YAW) and have called a schools’ strike in Melbourne for tomorrow, 14 February, on the same day as a massive demonstration in downtown Melbourne.

CWI online will carry reports of the Melbourne protests, which mark the beginning of huge anti-war protests across the world this coming weekend.

First, an Australian correspondent highlights discussions by some unions to possibly organise industrial action against war and also reports on opposition to Bush’s plans amongst US navy personnel passing through the Fremantle Harbour on the way to the Gulf.

CWI Online

Students set to strike against war…unions discuss industrial action…US navy dissent

Working people the world over cannot trust any government; we can only trust our own organisations, our own power to demonstrate, to rally, and to stop work to stop the war.

As for the US troops, most of them just want to go home. Socialist Party members in Fremantle were surprised that a number of sailors from a US navy ship came to their anti-war street stall recently. They repeated the same message: ’We just want to go home.’ It is not the business of Bush and Co. to send innocent American young men and women to fight a civilian people who are not a threat to anyone.

We support the American people in their struggle against the US bosses and their government. We also give total support to any troops in their demand to return home immediately.

Howard the coward

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is a coward. The Howard government are only interested in keeping the US as friends so they do not loose markets for profits and to support their power in the region. Howard would cheer on the US military might to slaughter thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis just to curry favour with Uncle Sam. If Blair in the UK is a US poodle, John Howard is a lemming, a small short-tailed furry-footed rodent willing to jump of the nearest cliff if George tells him to. What hypocrisy and viciousness!

No trust in Labour

The Australian Labour Party (ALP) initially made criticised Howard’s blind support of the US government and Bush’s war plans. But they very quickly backed down, apologising to the US. The ALP knows that if they ever get into power they will need the support of the strongest nation on the planet. The ALP also knows the US can be very vindictive and make it very hard for the ALP in terms of potential trade agreements etc. Simon Crean, the ALP leader, is as pro-capitalist as Howard and as much a coward in the face of the only super power.

As far as working people in Australia are concerned the ALP is finished as a party fighting for ordinary people. We need a new workers’ party that will not be bullied or bribed by international capitalists.

The real power in society

Demonstrations and rallies will have a huge effect on the capitalists and their political front men in governments, but the real power lies in the ability of workers taking strike action. In Australia some trade unions have been hesitant about getting involved. But when the bombs start falling from the Baghdad skies, workers will not just want to march; they will also strike, if leadership is given. This is the real power in society. The bosses get frightened of huge demonstrations, they even allow them to let people blow of steam, but threaten their profits and they wake up.

However there are strong indications that the trade unions are preparing to take action. In Western Australian (WA) nine powerful unions have declared they will carry out industrial action against the war. A few days after this declaration they joined the Anti War Alliance! This is the key to the success of the anti-war campaign.

Many working people do not as yet see the need to take industrial action but when the bombs start raining they will be the most resolute and determined fighters. In the face of organised international workers’ action against war, Bush could still be forced to back down, using one excuse or another. If not, G.W. Bush will become known in the minds of workers everywhere as Bush, the Butcher of Baghdad.

This is an edited version of an article from Socialist Voice, the paper of the Socialist Party in Australia (the CWI in Australia)

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February 2003