This article is based on a speech given by Jerome Small, Victorian Socialists Northern Metro candidate in the upcoming state election, at the 30 July United Climate Rally in Melbourne.
The whole country is talking about Labor’s Climate Change Bill. But there’s nothing there.
Australia is being engulfed by a fourth wave of COVID-19 in a year. Hospitalisations hit 5,133 on 19 July—a surge of more than 50 percent since the start of the month. Ambulance services are overwhelmed. COVID-19 is one of the leading causes of death in Australia right now, with 77 deaths recorded on 15 July. Credible estimates of the extent of “long covid” start at 400,000.
Australian governments and their counterparts around the world have largely succeeded in desensitising us to avoidable mass deaths and disease. In the week to 6 July, 294 people died of COVID-19 in Australia, more than 40 a day.
There are times when the inbuilt tensions of capitalist society—especially over who gets what share of the vast wealth created by the modern working class—come more into the open. Times when, for a variety of reasons, workers have an increased capacity or motivation to fight and to win. These are the times when our side can make a bit of history.
There’s plenty to be said about the outcome of the Fair Work Commission’s annual wage review—but the widespread claims of a “union win” fall flat. After all, for most workers affected by this week’s FWC decision, the result will be a cut to real wages.