Yesterday Sally McManus, the new ACTU secretary, had her first public appearance in the ABC's TV 7.30 Report.
The first female ACTU secretary, McManus got the job when the union movement in Australia is going through a crisis: according to official 2015 figures, only 14.4% of workers belong to a union (a historical low); the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), which unlike other unions, still maintains some reputation for militancy and a propensity for industrial action, is being subjected to a campaign of judicial terrorism by the construction industry and their enforcers in the Federal Government (118, yes, 1-1-8, one hundred eighteen separate largely spurious legal proceedings!!!); and the decision by the absurdly named Fair Work Commission to starve Australia's lowest paid workers.
McManus has made a name for herself for her militancy and apparently decided to bring that to her new job:
"McManus tells Guardian Australia the key to strong campaigns is that they are driven by the members upwards. ‘You've got to bring everything you can to a fight: not just legally, not just politically, not just in workplaces, but everywhere. You approach it at every level and bring every bit of capacity … that's the way I will approach campaigns as ACTU secretary'."Asked yesterday whether the ACTU under her direction would distance itself from the CFMEU, McManus gave a rather gutsy answer:
"There's no way we'll be doing that'.
"' The CFMEU, when they've been fined, they've been fined for taking industrial action,' she told 7.30.
"'It might be illegal industrial action according to our current laws, and our current laws are wrong'.
"'I believe in the rule of law when the law is fair and the law is right'.
"'But when it's unjust I don't think there's a problem with breaking it'.
"'It shouldn't be so hard for workers in our country to be able to take industrial action when they need to'.
"'Quite often these workers have stopped when a worker has been killed on a building site'."McManus didn't go into details, but her last line refers to the repeated deaths of construction workers because of their employers' negligence and willingness to cut corners on OHS, facilitated by the anti-CFMEU campaign.
Coalition politicians' reaction was immediate and from whimpering in fear that trade union militancy would cut their
After being treated with smelling salts, the Coalition's attack poodle and Minister for Defence Industry (aka expensive new submarines), Christopher Maurice Pyne, clutching his pearls managed to say:
"' What Sally McManus has said is the kind of anarchic Marxist clap trap we used to hear from anarchists at Adelaide University in the 1980s,' he told ABC radio on Thursday morning."Actually, for once Maurice was right: to defend workers is something Marxists are supposed to do. You know, the kind of thing he was elected to oppose.
Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, another fraction of his already scarce hair missing, added, his flaccid cheeks trembling:
"I have no sympathy with the idea that you should break the law of the land in order to pursue your political objectives here".Perhaps with a little more composure -- hey, she's a woman -- Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, speaking on behalf of her cashed-up constituency, "called on Mr Shorten to repudiate Ms McManus last night". Otherwise, Cash added, he would be supporting McManus and her comments.
No surprise there. These guys are just doing their jobs, that's what their
What may surprise was Labor federal leader Bill Shorten's reaction. Well, maybe not. First thing in the morning, Shorten released a statement:
"Mr Shorten said he did not agree with those comments [McManus'] …
"'If you don't like a law, if you think a law is unjust, use the democratic process to get it changed,' he said."You might say it, but I won't. I mean, I'd never say that Shorten came, his tail wagging, to lick Cash's hand, lest her use the folded newspaper on him.
I would never say, either, that he made a fool of himself, much to the Coalition's delight and to McManus' and the union movement's frustration.
I'd never add that's
No, I'd never say any of that. I'd only say that I wish lefty politicians were female.