A few people have said to me Sally McManus had ‘miscalculated’ or ‘stuffed up’ when she said sometimes it is necessary to break laws that are unjust.
Firstly – not one of the people who has said this to me so far is currently a union member themselves.
But more importantly – if people didn’t take so called ‘illegal’ action against unjust policies, projects and systems…. We would still be living as slaves, with no democratic rights, with a sole rich powerful family ruling the roost.
Or for a more current example – ‘illegal’ action was taken by the people who stopped James Price Point, Roe 8, Old Growth Forest Logging, the WA Shark Cull, and who are using their bodies stopping gas fracking and new coal mines.
I was recently arrested and charged while protecting the Beeliar Wetlands myself.
Laws do not define what is ‘right or wrong’.
Laws are just systems put in place to ensure the ‘status quot’ of how society currently operates. Some of those laws have a future in our society, some of those laws should have been left in the past.
Some laws we probably need haven’t even been thought of yet.
Most of our laws are compromise agreements reached between those seeking a better society, and those who were holding the reigns of power in the unfair and unequal societies of the past.
Modern laws are often compromise agreements balancing the influence of lobbying by vested interests – mostly the rich elite – with the influence of democratic power of citizens through elections, activism and non-violent action.
Laws are not infallible. Laws are not stagnant.
Laws are simply a social-contract currently agreed to in order to enable our society to function in an agreed-to manner.
Our expectations of how society should operate change over time.
Then we have to use our collective power in order to win or force changes to the law, generally through legislation, regulation or the courts.
But almost always those changes come as the result of people taking serious and organised non-violent action together.
That’s how change happens.
Over 30 years of playing ‘small target’ by the union movement has seen our rights as workers eroded. It’s almost impossible for a sole income earner to provide for their family and pay a mortgage for a family home now.
It’s time to remember where our power comes from. It comes from taking action TOGETHER to challenge the status quot.
And if that means sometimes we have to walk off the job without ‘federal approval’, then that’s what we have to do. If that means chaining ourselves to buildings, machines, or each other – that’s what we have to do.
If that means laying down in front of a bulldozer to protect a spiritually and culturally important piece of country… That’s what we will have to do.
If you disagree, you probably don’t have a realistic understanding of how progressive change is and has been achieved throughout history.
And to get back to the first point – about Sally and whether or not she ‘miscalculated’… I couldn’t disagree more.
Sally said EXACTLY what we needed her to say.
There is a nation wide outpouring of union pride right now. We’re more unified and fired up than we’ve been in decades.
We NEEDED a leader who was as proud of our rebellious past as we are, and who is really willing to lead from the front. That’s what we’ve got with Sally.
And that’s why I stand with Sally. And Ged.
Unions don’t grow by appealing to the middle ground. We grow by pulling people to the left, by being proud of our communities, by helping and supporting each other.
That’s why we were SO STRONG in the past. We can be that way again.
Inspire the base and we will inspire those around us.