The right to have legal solidarity industrial action was lost in Australia years ago with the introduction of Sections 45 D & E of the Trade Practices Act.
The last coalition government saw to that. Even more restrictions were introduced in the Workplace Relations Act, 1996. And there are more to come (see editorial). A Beazley led Opposition has made it clear that these anti-worker provisions will not be entirely revoked, though the impact may be softened somewhat.
Coalition governments, the bosses and the courts understand that the collective defiance of workers can make anti-union laws inoperative. Our union and political leaderships need to learn the same lesson. In 1998 it was the semi-legal ‘community pickets’ in solidarity with the maritime workers that brought that historic fight to a standstill and could have gone on to victory if spread more widely. The massive community pickets, thinly disguised union led affairs, had a huge influence in moulding public opinion and, more importantly, in mobilising the working class and its supporters right around the country.