Just days after the historic win by CUB workers, another battle has flared up against Depression-style wage cuts.
Fifty-five CUB workers were laid off and then offered their old jobs back at what was effectively a 65% wage cut. For six heroic months, they stood their ground, daring to struggle and, consequently, daring to win – getting their jobs back at the previous wage rate.
Now it is the turn of 150 workers at the Ingleburn, Sydney, plant of US multinational Kimberley Clark, manufacturers of the infant nappy brand Huggies.
Kimberley Clark has introduced to enterprise agreement negotiations with the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union a demand that all new employees start at a rate which is 25% less than the current EA rate.
Workers reacted by declaring an indefinite strike against the company’s plan to create a two-tier workforce.
These tactics of corporate giants like CUB and Kimberley Clark are reminiscent of enforced wage cuts during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
They indicate that capitalism is on shaky ground, and that more and more employers are seeking to shore up their competitive spirit at the expense of Australia’s workers.
We should never overlook the fact that the ruling class continually discusses its tactics against the workers. They are discussed in boardrooms, in industrial relations clubs, in peak employer groups, inside right-wing free market think tanks, with the major mass media and with the leaders of both major political parties.
CUB and Kimberley Clark are the current kite flyers for the ruling class. If they are defeated by the workers and the workers’ communities, then they move onto a new tactic. They hope giants like CUB and Kimberley Clark will ride out working class resistance, allow industrial precedents to be set and spread elsewhere to the benefit of the capitalist economy.
Workers instinctively know that an attack on one is an attack on all and want to close ranks for their mutual defence.
The Kimberley Clark workers are fighting for all workers.
As our revered, late Party comrade John Cummins stated with great clarity and simplicity, “If workers stand united, sooner or later their success is guaranteed”.
With fists raised in the air, Kimberley Clark workers are poised to do what their comrades at CUB did: struggle and win!