Thursday, November 16, 2006

2006 Socialist Alliance conference held in Geelong Trades Hall

"'If there’s an organisation that can lead the trade union movement to where it should be going, it’s this one', Chris Cain, Western Australian state secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia told the opening plenary of the fifth Socialist Alliance national conference held at Geelong Trades Hall on October 29.

Some 53 delegates from across Australia met in regional Victoria to discuss how to help defeat the Howard government and build fighting social movements - in particular in the trade unions.

Reflecting on the current push to join or back the ALP as the only way of defeating Howard, Cain said, 'I’ve been approached on many occasions to join the ALP'. He added: 'I know how to be a trade unionist, and if that means becoming part of something humanitarian, then I won’t be budging from the Socialist Alliance.'

Commenting on the discussion among many union leaders about the movement’s relationship with the Labor Party, Cain said, 'I’m not going to say that if the ALP doesn’t get in at the next election, we’re all finished. The reason is that the way to get rid of Howard is not what the majority of trade union leaders are saying.' He went on to argue for an independent trade union movement to continue to take the fight for workers’ rights up to the government of the day - Liberal or Labor.

Cain’s comments encapsulated the fighting spirit and optimism of the 130-strong conference.

Delegates unanimously adopted the draft resolution presented by the outgoing national executive which states that 'the Socialist Alliance will campaign for the defeat of the Howard government in the next federal election and for its replacement by a Labor government'. The statement continues: 'However we have little confidence that a Beazley government will stand by its promise to rip up Work Choices and Australian Workplace Agreements and introduce an industrial relations system that enshrines our rights at work"