The Balmain ironworkers' strike of 1945

  

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The Balmain ironworkers' strike of 1945

The Balmain ironworkers' strike of 1945

38

TH BLMN RONWORKRS' STRK OF 1945

(sssy)

Ths two rtcls on th Blmn ronworkrs' struggl wr publshd n Lbour Hstory n My nd Novmbr 1972. Th Mmors of Cloptr Swtfgur, wrttn n 1980, s mtur utobogrphcl pc tht hd grt nflunc, prtculrly mong fmnsts, n th 1980s. Dphn Golln, who dd fw yrs go, ws th formr wf of Robn Golln (th lbour hstorn), lovr of th lt Nck Orglss (th long-lvd nd stubborn ponr ustrln Trotskyst) nd hrslf vry cpbl lbour hstorn.

Th bttls n th Blmn brnch of th ronworkrs' unon, nd n th ronworkrs' unon n gnrl, hv bn rcountd vry thoroughly n Hll Grnlnd's bogrphy of Nck Orglss, Rd Hot, Susnn Short's bogrphy of hr fthr, Lur Short: poltcl lf, nd Bob Murry nd Kt Wht's Th ronworkrs: Hstory of th Fdrtd ronworkrs' ssocton of ustrl (Sydny, Hl nd rmongr, 1982).

my McGrth, th wf of Frnk McGrth, on of th ky fgurs n th opposton n th Blmn brnch of th ronworkrs' unon, who ltr bcm judg, hs wrttn n ccount, clld Th Frudng of Vots, of th Blmn brnch bttl from th ngl of hr husbnd nd th lw frm tht rprsntd hm. Tom Brsln, th ky fgur n th Communst Prty fcton n th Blmn brnch, wrot n unpublshd utobogrphcl ccount of th struggl from hs pont of vw.

n ths rtcls, Dphn Golln mks bld ssrtons suggstng drct knowldg of Communst Prty bllot rggng n svrl ronworkrs' unon bllots. Hr ssrtons hv consdrbl wght, s sh workd n th unon's offc durng th Blmn ronworkrs' struggl.

t n Octobr 1, 1994, confrnc on th grt Lbor splt n NSW, th followng thr-wy xchng, whch spks for tslf, took plc btwn Jm McClllnd, Jck McPhllps nd myslf. Th trnscrpt ws publshd n Th Grt Lbour Movmnt Splt: nsd Stors, publshd by th ustrln Socty for Lbour Hstory.

Th frst ssson promptd mny commnts nd xchngs, som of whch - wth th prmsson of th spkrs - w prnt blow. n th followng xchng btwn Jm McClllnd, who ws on Lur Short's lgl tm from lt 1951, Jck McPhllps nd Bob Gould, th quston of bllot-rggng rsd ts hd gn.

Jm McClllnd: Lk Clyd Cmron hv nvr ovrstmtd th rol of thcs n poltcl lf. But thnk tht to go from thr to proposton tht ny mns r justfd by nds tks th mttr nto th rlm of totltrn poltcs, whch thnk vrybody hr s opposd to. Now Mr McPhhps dmttd tht vrybody hd md som rrors, so xpct tht h ncluds mong thos who md rrors th Communst Prty, to whch h blongd, nd prhps vn hmslf. Now wondr f h wll dmt tht on of thr grtst rrors ws n cookng th 1949 ronworkrs bllot. Now n cs thr s ny doubt tht t ws cookd, 'd lk to rlt lttl ncdnt tht hppnd to m n my ltr lf. Mr McPhllps, suppos you would rmmbr mn nmd Rodrck Shw. Do you, Mr McPhllps?

Jck McPhllps: Ys.

McClllnd: Wll, Rodrck Shw ws mn who hd bn mmbr of th Communst Prty nd whom mt lt n hs lf s 'v mt lot of othr x-Communsts, bcus x-Communsts r vry thck on th ground ths dys. nd Rod ws vry prsonbl mn; h ws good pntr mong othr thngs. But h ws prtnr n frm of prntrs clld dwrds nd Shw. Now t ws llgd n th ronworkrs Bllot Cs tht th unon offcls, of whom Mr McPhllps ws promnnt on, hd up thr slv n xtr 2000 bllot pprs, whch thy wr bl to rng n, votng for thmslvs, nd so dft th xprssd opnon of thr mmbrs n th bllot. don't know tht Mr McPhllps hs vr dmttd tht h ws prty to tht.

McPhllps: H dosn't dmt t now thr. (Lughtr)

McClllnd: No, wll, Mr Rodrck Shw, who ws prntr whos frm prntd th bllot pprs for tht lcton, nd who unlk Mr McPhllps, ultmtly rcovrd from hs dhrnc to Communsm, dmttd n hs closng yrs tht hs frm prntd n xtr 2000 bllot pprs nd ddn't hnd thm to th Rturnng Offcr but hd hndd thm prsonlly to Mr McPhllps.

McPhllps: H's lr nd so r you. (Lughtr)

McClllnd: Wll, chos to blv hm nd don't brng tht story forwrd n ordr to trduc Mr McPhllps bcus blv tht, no mttr how wrong h my hv bn, h ctd ccordng to fls vw of wht ws good for hs fllow humn bngs. H ctd fntclly nd h would hv blvd, thnk, tht th nd (tht s, wht h would hv clld progrssv cnddts, mnng mmbrs of th Communst Prty rmnng n offc n th ronworkrs Unon) justfd th us of frudulnt bllot pprs. So don't sy tht's blot on Mr McPhllps. thnk t's totlly n ccordnc wth hs poltcl phlosophy. But tht phlosophy s on tht hop would nvr tk root n ths country nd tht's why thnk tht th contst wgd by th ndustrl Groups to oust th Communsts from control of th unon movmnt n ustrl ws, dspt som mstks md by th Grouprs, progrssv thng for th hstory of ustrl. ftr tht, th formton of th Dmocrtc Lbor Prty, thnk, ws dsstr nd , of cours, hd nothng to do wth th Dmocrtc Lbor Prty. But thnk tht th vlfcton of th ndustrl Groups tht w'v hrd hr tody from Mr McPhllps s totlly unjustfd n th lght of ustrln poltcl hstory.

Bob Gould: blong to th Jm Mckn fcton n ths mttrs. On tht mttr, lso blv tht th bllot n th ronworkrs n 1949 ws rggd on th bss of th vdnc n th Court nd th ndnttons on th bllot pprs. But hd dscusson wth Rod Shw fw months bfor h dd whn h cm nto my shop nd skd hm pont blnk dd h, s th prntr, know nythng bout t nd h dnd t, so thnk you hv to b crful bout blok who's dd... scrbng thngs to hm. My xprnc of skng hm drct qustons bout th busnss - Rod Shw dnd t. don't know whthr h sd dffrnt thngs to McClllnd but h crtnly dnd t to m. thnk tht th crcumstntl vdnc s tht t ws rggd but Rod Shw crtnly dnd t n my xprnc.

Ths xchng spks for tslf bout th 1949 ronworkr's bllot. W r unlkly vr to know much mor bout wht Rod Shw sd to Jm McCllnd, s Jm McClllnd hs now lso pst wy.

Nw nformton hs now, howvr poppd out of th woodwork bout th rggng of th bllot n th Blmn brnch of th ronworkrs unon durng th wr prod. grt survvor of lftsm nd modrnsm n ustrln rt, th ccomplshd, ffbl nd knowldgbl Brnrd Smth, rcntly publshd th scond volum of hs utobogrphy, Pvn for nothr tm1 (McMlln, ustrl, 2002). Brnrd Smth ws n th 1940s nd 1950s mmbr of th Communst Prty, nd gnrlly looks bck on tht xprnc fvourbly n hs two volums of utobogrphy. Nvrthlss, on pg 93 of th rcnt scond volum, h wrts:

t ws bout ths tm tht th Dstrct Commtt of th Prty dcdd to bolsh occuptonl brnchs such s thos for tchrs nd journlsts, nstd drctng thr mmbrs to suburbn brnchs. ndvduls n th sm fmly wr oftn told to nrol n dffrnt brnchs, spclly f thy wr consdrd by th Prty burucrts to b "bourgos ntllctuls". So Kt ws trnsfrrd to th Kngs Cross brnch nd to th North Shor brnch. rsntd ths. t mnt must tk th trolly bus to Town Hll Stton, thn th trn to North Shor to ttnd. Th only popl knw n th brnch wr Bob nd Dphn Golln. Shortly ftr, Bob jond th r Forc. Splt up n ths wy, my poltcl rdour bgn to cool. Th Tchrs' Brnch hd bn knd of socl club for m ftr th solton of Murrguldr, frndly group of ctvsts dmrd. But now w both bgn to fl lttl of th hvy hnd of th Prty burucrcy. Shortly ftrwrds Kt cm bck from th Kngs Cross brnch n hghly dsturbd stt of mnd. "Wll," sh sd, "you cn sty n th Prty, Pch, f you wnt to, but 'm fnshd". t pprs tht on of th brnch mmbrs hd com to th mtng rmd wth vcnt votng tckts for currnt ronworkrs' Unon lcton. On of th ctvts of th mtng ws to mrk up th crds h brought wth hm n fvour of rn Thornton, th communst scrtry of th ronworkrs' Unon. Thornton's poston ws undr thrt from th rght-wng ld by Lur Short. Th Kngs Cross brnch ws pprntly hlpng to fk th lcton. hd no problm wth Kt's dcson to lv th prty. n th crcumstncs t ws th only thng to do. dy or so ltr wnt up nd sw J. B. Mls, th Prty Scrtry; nd told hm wht hd occurrd. H rpld to th ffct tht h knw tht knd of thng hppnd, nd lft t t tht. hd dmrd Mls nd rluctntly ccptd th fct tht thr wr problms n ll poltcl prts, but bgn to rls tht th CP ws mor prgmtc thn most prts whn t cm to justfyng mns to nds.

Ths xtrct from Brnrd Smth's utobogrphy s prtty powrful drct vdnc. Th Gollns nd th Smths wr clos prsonl frnds; thy styd wth ch othr n Brtn nd ustrl, thy trvlld togthr to Brtn by shp, nd t's prtty clr to m tht on of th sourcs for Dphn Golln's ssrtons tht ronworkrs lctons wr rggd ws Kt Smth. Th truth oftn coms out n th wsh, vn f 45 yrs ltr. knw both Dphn Golln nd Nck Orglss. Dphn ws fsty, ntllgnt nd courgous womn nd hr lt-n-lf lov ffr wth Nck Orglss, on of th mn protgonsts n ll thos bttls, ws wrm, humn sdlght on both thr lvs nd tms. Thy'r both now dd. Both thr funrls nd wks wr lrg dvrs gthrngs of mny popl, mnly of th lft, who hd known thm nd bn nfluncd by thm. W put ths rtcls up on Ozlft s trbut to Dphn nd Nck.

W my nvr s thr lk gn.

Nots

1. Pvn: sttly dnc populr n urop n th 16th cntury.

Th Blmn ronworkrs' strk of 1945

Prt 1. Th fctons mrg, l942-43

By Dphn Golln

n 1945 n unprcdntd strk of rnk nd fl ronworkrs gnst thr unon ldrs took plc on th Blmn wtrfront n Sydny. Th bttrnss of th dsput nd th stubbornnss wth whch both sds dfndd thr postons rflctd n ntgonsm whch sprng from totlly opposd poltcl nd orgnstonl prspctvs. Whthr sn prmrly s collson btwn rnk nd fl dmocrcy nd th uthortrnsm of cntrlsng unon ldrshp, or s rvolt gnst th clss collborton of th wr polcy of th Communst Prty, or gn, s n upsurg of poltcl bckwrdnss gnst progrssv ldrshp, th Blmn strk of 1945 s on of th most poltcl nd, ndd, dologclly chrgd dsputs n th hstory of ustrln trd unons.

Why dd th Communst-ld xcutv of th Blmn brnch of th Fdrtd ronworkrs' ssocton, whch normlly commndd mjorty t brnch mtngs, fnd t ncssry to try to slnc rnk nd fl opposton n on of th lrgst wtrfront shops? Why dd th Ntonl Councl ntrvn rrvocbly n support of th brnch xcutv's suspnson of th shop dlgt, Orglss? Ws t thought tht by rmovng Orglss from poston of mss nflunc t Mort's Dock, dscontnt mong th rnk nd fl wth th unon's polcy nd orgnstonl chngs would b slncd? Why dd th unon ldrshp fl thrtnd by mn who occupd poston t th lowst lvl of th unon hrrchy, hd no voc n th unon prss nd could not wn substntl support mong thos who usully ttndd brnch mtngs? How mportnt ws t for Communst unonsts to stmp out Trotskyst nflunc mong wtrfront workrs? To nswr ths qustons on must look t vnts n th yrs bfor 1945.

Whn wr brok out n urop n 1939 nd ustrl's Prm Mnstr, R. G. Mnzs, nnouncd th consqunt nvolvmnt of th ustrln popl by th sd of th Brtsh, spoksmn of th trd unons pldgd th support of th lbour movmnt for th govrnmnt's wr ffort. Snc thr ws lrg rsrvor of unmployd th mjor concrn of th govrnmnt n rgrd to lbour ws not to consrv th vlbl supply of mnpowr but to mk th bst us of th lmtd numbrs of sklld mn. Th slow dvlopmnt of lnd fghtng mnt tht th srvcs' dmnd ws mnly for sklld trdsmn. t ws 18 months bfor th pool of unsklld nd sm-sklld lbour drd up, nd th quston of ndustrl conscrpton dd not bcom mjor on untl th wr movd clos to ustrl's shors lt n 1941. Th mn concrn of th trd unons whn wr bgn ws wth th rs n unmploymnt du to dsrupton of mrkts. Thr ws no quston but tht th lbour movmnt ntndd to dfnd ts norml ntrsts, ncludng th rght to strk. govrnmnt ttmpt to st up trd unon dvsory pnl ws mt wth suspcon, nd rfusl by th ustrlsn Councl of Trd Unons to b rprsntd on th pnl whn t cm nto xstnc n July 1940. Th govrnmnt, howvr, dd procd wth th crton of mchnry for th rgulton of lbour nd th Dprtmnt of Lbour nd Ntonl Srvc ws stblshd n Octobr 1940, rsponsbl for sttng up n mploymnt srvc nd for ndustrl trnng nd dluton nd rstrcton of comptton for sourcs of lbour. n 1941 Mnpowr Prorts Bord ws crtd, whch ws succdd n 1942 by th Mnpowr Drctort wth powr to conscrpt nd drct lbour. lthough lmost ll th powrs nd dmnstrtv mchnry to control th llocton of rsourcs nd mnpowr wr stblshd n th frst two yrs of th wr t ws not untl th ntry of Jpn opnd up thtr of wr n th Pcfc tht ths controls wr brought nto full oprton.

Whl th gnrl tttud of ustrlns ws on of support for th govrnmnt's wr ffort, tht support untl th mddl of 1941 ws qulfd by strong dsnclnton to s dsturbnc to norml lf. t ws ssumd tht snc th mn thtr of th wr would b n urop, ustrl's rol would b smlr to wht t hd bn n 1914-18, tht of supplyng troops nd rw mtrls to fr-off plcs. But th Scond World Wr, to bgn wth, n no wy followd th brsk nd bloody pc of th frst. Th months of th "phony" wr followd by th fll of Frnc, th mmoblston of Brtn, nd th pprntly nconsquntl but costly fghtng on th prmtr of urop ll gv rs to uncrtnty bout th drcton nd purpos of th dstnt conflct wthout dong nythng to shk th d tht t ws busnss s usul n ustrl, t lst for th tm bng.

Th grtr prt of th lbour movmnt shrd th gnrl tttud to th wr. ts lft wng, howvr, n prtculr th Communst-ld trd unons, opposd ustrl's prtcpton n th wr. Th Communst Prty ftr som wks' confuson hd dclrd t to b conflct btwn mprlst powrs n whch nthr sd could h supportd by th workrs. n My 1940 th prty ws md llgl nd ts prss closd down. Snc t took som tm for n undrground prss to functon ffctvly, th lgl journls of th Communst-ld unons nd th rdcl brkwy NSW Stt Lbor Prty wr th only wdly crcultd publctons to put forwrd vwpont on th wr whch chllngd tht of th govrnmnt nd dly prss. Nthr th Fdrtd ronworkrs' ssocton nor ny othr of th Communst-ld unons vr doptd poston of opn opposton to th wr, whch would hv nvolvd th rsk of punshmnt nd closur of thr prss nd, s wll, of solton from gnrl workng-clss flng. Thy dd put thmslvs forwrd s ctv dfndrs of workng-clss ntrsts gnst th ttmpts of govrnmnt nd mployrs to us th wr s n xcus to brk down condtons. Thr nrgtc rjcton of ncrochmnts upon trd unon rghts nd thr dmnds for wg ncrss found rspons n th mny ustrln workrs whos flngs towrds th wr wr too skptcl or mbvlnt for thm to lstn kndly to clls for scrfc n th nm of ptrotsm. s lt s Jun 1941 strongly wordd ronworkrs' rsoluton ws doptd by th CTU Congrss, ssrtng ntr l tht th most mportnt dmocrtc rghts of th workng clss wr th rghts to orgns, brgn collctvly nd to strk, nd tht n wrtm, mor thn ny othr prod, th rght to strk hd to b prsrvd n ordr to dfnd th workng clss gnst mployrs' cton to smsh trd unon stndrds nd orgnston.1

By 1941 th F ws bnftng n mmbrshp nd ncom from ncrsd mploymnt nd th xpnson of ndustry du to th wr. Th drv of th gnrl scrtry, rnst Thornton, to buld strong, cntrlsd orgnston hd bn ccompnd by mor ffcnt offc mngmnt, nd th publcton, from Octobr 1939, of monthly ll-unon journl, Th ronworkr. ftr chng n ruls hd gvn th Fdrl Commtt of Mngmnt powr to clos brnchs nd offcs numbr of brnchs hd bn rorgnsd nd brought nto ctvty. Th most drstc rmodllng hd bn vstd on th Nwcstl brnch, whch hd suffrd for yrs from fcton fghts. ts offc hd bn occupd by th gnrl scrtry, ts commtt of mngmnt suspndd by th Fdrl Councl nd nw xcutv lctd undr th suprvson of th gnrl scrtry. ll brnchs, by 1941, wth on xcpton, wr ld by Communsts. Th xcpton ws Blmn.

Wth th Grmn nvson of th USSR on Jun 22, 1941, Communst opposton to th mprlst wr chngd bruptly nto wholhrtd support for th "nt-fscst" struggl. Howvr, dp hostlty to th Mnzs Govrnmnt contnud nd th Communst trd unon ldrs clld for th "Chmbrlns" to b dscrdd. n ltrntv, Lbor, govrnmnt ws ndd to crry out th lft's nw objctv of wnnng th full bckng of th workrs for th wr ffort, tht s, of gttng thm to work hrdr, produc mor nd rfrn from stoppgs. Ths cm bout n Octobr 1941 whn th Curtn Lbor dmnstrton took offc.

Th Grmn nvson of th Sovt Unon mrkd th crtcl chng n th ntur of th wr for Communsts (th turnng pont of th world s th Brtsh Communst, Plm Dutt, dscrbd t n wll-known rtcl). Fv months ltr th Jpns ttck on Prl Hrbour provdd th justfcton for th Untd Stts to ntr th wr nd now th struggls n urop, frc, Chn nd th Pcfc wr sn s lnkd n on globl conflct - th struggl of progrssv mnknd gnst fscsm. For Communsts th bttlflds of urop, whr th USSR ws dfndng ts vry xstnc, ovrrod n mportnc ll othr thtrs of wr. s soon s th Russn cll for scond front n Wstrn urop ws md, prssur for ths bcm th most urgnt poltcl cmpgn undrtkn by th Communsts nd crrd on wth unflggng nrgy. For most ustrlns, howvr, wht ws much mor mportnt n chngng n unsy nvolvmnt nto nrgtc support of th Lbor Govrnmnt's ovrll wr plns ws th rpd unchckd dvnc of th Jpns n th drcton of ustrl n th frst hlf of 1942.

Th Communst Prty swtch vokd crtcsm or cyncl commnt from thos who dntfd th wr ffort th Communsts supportd s tht of th Sovt Unon, but n th thrtnng dys of 1942 th by no mns dntcl tttuds of th Communst Prty nd th mjorty of ustrln workrs convrgd n mssv bckng of th Lbor Govrnmnt. Whn by 1943 wht hd bn sn s n mmnnt thrt of nvson ws rmovd, th stmulus of fr n th wr ffort dspprd nd ll tht ly hd ws, for th troops, long hrd trl from slnd to slnd northwrd n th wk of th mrcns, nd for cvlns, n ncrsd dmnd for th producton of suppls for lld troops n th Pcfc, wth ccptnc of food nd clothng rtonng n ddton to ptrol rtonng (n oprton snc Octobr 1940). Th movmnt of th rn of wr wy from ustrl nturlly brought lssnng of tnson, th bgnnng of wr wrnss, rsntmnt t rstrctons nd controls nd th r-mrgnc of sctonl ntrsts to b dfndd. But for th Communst Prty th nd for unstntng ffort n th proscuton of th wr nd for mxmum producton ws grtr thn vr n 1943, bcus th scond front hd not yt bn opnd to lft th prssur from th Russns. t ws n 1943 tht th dvrgng tttuds to th wr of Communsts nd most othr ustrln workrs bcm pprnt nd rsultd n th solton of Communsts from th rnk nd fl n som rs of wr ndustry. nd t ws not only th Communsts n ldng postons but lso thos on th job who suffrd.

n th ronworkrs' Unon th consquncs of totl support for th wr, dclrd by th Fdrl Commtt of Mngmnt n Octobr 1941, ws for th unon to ccpt ts shr of rsponsblty for ncrsng producton nd by ll possbl mns to prvnt ntrruptons to producton cusd by stoppgs of work. Th pldg of support for th Lbor Govrnmnt lso nvolvd ccptnc of th govrnmnt's mrgncy msurs nforcng drcton of lbour, wg pggng, compulsory ovrtm nd cncllton of som publc holdys s pd dys of lsur. Th contrst tht ths polcy prsntd wth tht followd n th frst 20 months of th wr ws not lost on th unon ldrs. Thy prsntd n loqunt cs for th chngd ntur of th wr, but n th nd ll rgumnts hd to ssrt or mply tht totl support of th lld wr ffort to nsur th dft of fscsm ws th prcondton of th dfnc of workng-clss ntrsts. Th corollry of ths proposton, nmly, tht dfnc of workng-clss ntrsts ws th prcondton of succssful struggl gnst fscsm (prtculrly f t ws rcognsd tht th m of mployrs t ll tms ws to combn proft-mkng wth proscuton of th wr) prsntd dffcults, bcus t rsd th crucl quston of th plc of th clss struggl n untd front ntonl struggl. n Fbrury 1942 Th ronworkr ssurd ts rdrs tht th unon ws not bndonng th clss struggl, but n mplct contrdcton of ths, sttd tht th unon's tttud to producton nd strks ws dtrmnd by ts tttud to th wr, nd furthr, "Our polcy... dmnds of us th us of vry mns to vod stoppgs. Our bost s not tht w mntn pc n ndustry, but tht w furthr th fght gnst fscsm nd for soclsm, nd thus srv th bst ntrsts of th workrs."

Th qutng of th fght gnst fscsm - whch for mny ndustrl mploys mnt hrd work, long hours nd pggd wgs - wth th bst ntrsts of th workrs ws not slf-vdnt truth to th vrg workr, but rthr dpndd for crdnc t th vry lst upon vgorous dy-to-dy dfnc of condtons on th job nd confronttons wth th mployrs. But t soon bcm clr tht n ny conflct btwn th dmnds for mxmum nd contnuous producton nd th dfnc of workng-clss condtons, th unon movmnt ws undr svr prssur from th stt s wll s mployrs to put producton frst. Th unons wr nrrowly lmtd by mrgncy rgultons n th rs n whch thy could brgn, nd thr mmbrs cm undr thrt of punshmnt f thy rsortd to drct cton. nd for poltclly mndd Communst trd unonsts furthr fctor nhbtng dsruptv ndustrl cton ws th blf tht th survvl of th Sovt Unon could dpnd upon th ssstnc t rcvd from ts Wstrn lls.

n Jnury 1942 Thornton ws rgung tht thr should b n ll-round ncrs of 10 shllngs n th bsc wg nd ths dmnd ws rptd n My. (Th wg pggng rgultons llowd for wg rss n th cs of pplctons brought bfor th rbtrton Court bfor Fbrury 1942) On My 29, howvr, Mr Justc O'Mr, fnlsng Mtl Trds wrd judgmnt, rjctd th ronworkrs' pplcton for n ll-round ncrs of 3/ - n mrgns. Thornton, who blvd tht th unon hd strong cs, wrot n ndgnnt rtcl on th dcson nd n th cours of t md sgnfcnt dmsson. " blv tht not on of th rsons gvn for rfusng n ncrs s th rl on. blv tht th rl on s tht our clm s just, but f grntd would hv rsultd n som rprcussons from unons whch cnnot s byond th py nvlop.

"Our unon, on th othr hnd, hs shown tht t puts th fght gnst fscsm bov ll othr qustons. So t ws, pprntly, but qut wrongly, consdrd sfr to wp us off thn dl wth th othrs. "2

H wnt on to sy tht prhps th unon would hv to dvrt som of ts forcs from th mn offnsv to dl wth th snprs n th rr, but thr ws slnc thrftr on th O'Mr wrd. Th unon's commtmnt to th nt-fscst cus, tkng th form of collborton wth stt nsttutons, md t dffcult for t to ttck wht n rlr dys would hv bn dnouncd s nt-workng-clss dscrmnton.

t mtng of th Fdrl Councl n Jun 1942, whch rvwd th progrss of th wr nd th fortuns of th unon snc th dopton of th nw wr polcy, Thornton gv pctur of rpdly growng orgnston, njoyng th confdnc of th govrnmnt nd n poston of ldrshp wthn th trd unon movmnt. Th mn tsk for th unon ws tht of gttng th workrs to ccpt thr prt n ncrsng producton. H dmttd tht thr wr dffcults n ths but quckly rtrtd, lvng th problm unrsolvd. H sd tht to gt th utmost nthussm for th wr th unon would hv to mprov workrs' condtons, but, on th othr hnd, "w cnnot dmnd concssons for our orgnston tht wll rsult n wknng of th wr ffort". H flyd workrs rsponsbl for th hgh rt of bsntsm nd dclrd tht th unon ws "no funk hol for shrkrs of mltry srvc". H sw th nswr to th producton problm ssntlly n bttr undrstndng by th rnk nd fl of th unon's polcy.3

Th Councl pssd rsoluton cllng for th utmost dscpln from unon mmbrs n supportng th polcy of th unon nd lso dmndng tht brnchs tk dscplnry cton to prvnt unuthorsd nd rrsponsbl strks nd to rduc th hgh prcntg of bsntsm.4 Thornton pontd out t ths mtng tht of ll th ndustrs n th unon, th dffcults of gttng unon polcy put nto ffct wr grtst on th wtrfront, nd n prtculr n th r covrd by th Blmn brnch. H obsrvd tht rpr work on th wtrfront stnk nd tht mn nd mployrs "wr mutully n on of th bggst rckts possbl for nyon to mgn".5

Blmn hd bn th unon's foundng brnch t th turn of th cntury. t covrd mnly wtrfront ndustrs, prtculrly shp buldng nd rpr. Th r ws on of old workng-clss suburbs clos to, but soltd from, th cty. lrg numbr of th brnch mmbrs lvd nd workd n Blmn or nghbourng suburbs. Durng th Scond World Wr Blmn bcm th lrgst shp-rprng cntr n ustrl. Cocktoo slnd Dockyrd nd Mort's Dock mployd rspctvly lmost 3000 nd 2000 mn t th hght of wrtm ctvty. Mort's Dock, foundd by T. S. Mort n 1854, hd hd ts cpcty grtly nlrgd rly n th 20th cntury nd furthr xtnsons nd ddtons wr md n th 1930s, but som of th workshops wr stll ntqutd, whl th gnrl lyout of th dock complx dd not lnd tslf to ffcnt producton. Th grt ncrs n th numbrs mployd durng th wr ws not mtchd by mprovmnts n fclts. Thr ws not only no cntn t th dock but for mny of th workrs nowhr to t but on th job. Chngng, wshng, tolt fclts vrd from ndqut to vry bd nd wr th sourc of constnt complnts from th mploys.

Som of th dffcults ncountrd n dscplnng wtrfront lbour sprng from th trdtons of th ndustry. Th lbour forc hd long hstory of drct cton, of stoppng frst nd nformng thr offcls ltr. Ths ws contrry to unon polcy, whch now ws to mk th fullst us of conclton to sttl ndustrl dsputs. n Mrch 1942, n rport notbly lckng n prsonl commtmnt, Jo Brown, th Blmn scrtry, hd nformd brnch dlgts tht Fdrl Councl nstructons wr tht no strk or stopwork mtng ws to b hld wthout th brnch offc bng notfd bforhnd.6 Lnkd wth th long-stblshd prctc of dcdng cton on th job ws nothr ftur of ndustrl orgnston n th wtrfront shops, tht of co-oprton nd jont cton btwn mmbrs of dffrnt unons, prtculrly ronworkrs nd bolrmkrs. dsput nvolvng bolrmkrs would, f contnud, frquntly brng n ronworkrs nd mmbrs of othr mtl trds unons. t Mort's Dock ths rltons wr rflctd n th xstnc of bolrshop commtt (of ronworkrs nd bolrmkrs) nd mtl trds commtt, s wll s combnd shop commtt.

n ordr to gt unon polcy ccptd by lss thn nthusstc mmbrshp th Fdrl ldrs sw t s ssntl to hv ddctd brnch offcls, nd hr gn Blmn stood out. Wth not on Communst mongst thm, th strongly Lngt, nd to som xtnt Msonc, old Blmnrs* hd consstnt rcord of opposton to ny ncrochmnts on brnch uthorty nd clms to cntrlsd ldrshp by th Fdrl Councl. n 1940 thr hd bn numbr of clshs, wth Blmn chllngng th rght of th Fdrl Councl to ncrs contrbutons wthout submttng th proposl to rfrndum,7 gnorng th Fdrl Councl rsoluton tht ll ngottons wth Commonwlth mnstrs wr to b conductd through th Fdrl Offc,8 nd wthdrwng ts dlgts to th CTU Congrss n Sydny n protst gnst th Fdrl Scrtry's "dcttorl tttud" n nstructng brnch dlgts on th wy thy should vot.9

Whl th 1942 Commtt of Mngmnt dd not hv ny objcton n prncpl to support of th wr, ts mmbrs wr notcbly rluctnt to nforc ny spct of polcy ld down by th Communst-domntd Fdrl Councl whch provd to b unpopulr wth th rnk nd fl. t th tm of th Jun 1942 mtng mn t Cocktoo hd dcdd to rfus to work on Kng's Brthdy bcus thy wr not to rcv doubl tm for shft work, prt of whch ws workd on th holdy. Th rfusl to work ws rnk nd fl dcson nd unuthorsd. n ddton, s Thornton obsrvd dsgustdly, t hd bn mpossbl to convnc th Blmn xcutv tht t should do nythng but support th mn on th job.10

Thornton's pproch to th Blmn brnch t th Jun mtng ws hlf thrt nd hlf ppl, skng for mor conscous ccptnc of unon polcy by th brnch.

Whl 1942 ws yr of hgh producton nd rltvly fw workng dys lost, vn by th turbulnt col mnrs nd thr wr no mjor stoppgs on th wtrfront, th Blmn mn showd no sgn of bndonng thr hbts of drct cton nd bypssng of unon uthorty. gnorng th ngottng fforts of thr unons th ngnrs nd ronworkrs t Cocktoo struck n Jun-July whn thr clms for pymnt of pnlty rts for shft work prformd on holdys wr rfusd.

Th dsstsfcton of th Fdrl offcls wth th Blmn scrtry grw n Sptmbr whn thr wr dsmssls t Cocktoo of mploys, ncludng two Communsts, Brsln nd Lynch. Snc mn nxous to gt clrnc from th dock wr pssd ovr, th dsmssls suggstd vctmston. Brown ws slow n tkng up th complnts of th dsmssd mn nd Brsln dmndd n nvstgton by th Fdrl Commtt of Mngmnt. Ths ws md nd, s wll s rcommndng tht th brnch s to t tht th dsmssd mn wr th frst to b r-mployd whn work offrd, th FCOM lso cnsurd Brown for mkng rrsponsbl nd dsruptv sttmnts bout th Fdrl offcrs, whch wr untru nd unjustfd.11

n Dcmbr 1942 thr ws complnt to th Fdrl Councl tht th Blmn brnch bllot hd not bn conductd ccordng to th ruls. Th councl nvstgtd, found tht rrgulrts hd occurrd, dclrd th bllot null nd vod nd ordrd nw on to b hld by th sm rturnng offcr undr th suprvson of th Gnrl Prsdnt, Pt McHnry. t lso rsolvd tht th Gnrl Prsdnt or Gnrl Scrtry nd th Fdrl Counclor, J. Lhy, mmbr of th Blmn brnch, should ttnd ll mtngs of th brnch nd xcutv to nsur th propr conduct of th ffrs of th brnch.12

Whl th Fdrl Councl dcson to hv ts offcls t Blmn mtngs formd prt of th rsoluton on th brnch bllot, t s clr from Thornton's spch to th councl tht h ws prmrly concrnd wth th Blmn offcls' contnud flur to co-oprt n crryng out unon polcy. H sw th stt of th shpbuldng nd rpr ndustry s stll unstsfctory nd stoppgs s too frqunt. H spok of th problms of convncng th workrs tht, hvng ccptd unon polcy thy hd to pply t to thmslvs. Wth obvous rfrnc to Blmn h spok of th oblgton of rsponsbl brnch offcrs to put th polcy nto ffct, not mrly n words nd not wth rsrvtons nd qulfctons prfctly obvous to workrs. H wnt on to ndct how h thought dmocrtc cntrlsm n th unon should work, tht s to sy, onc polcy ws ld down by th councl nd ndorsd by th brnchs, t thn bcm th polcy of vry offcr, who ws rsponsbl for crryng t out wth nthussm.13

Th old Blmnrs wr now on th dfnsv, undr constnt snpng ttcks from th Communst fcton wthn th brnch nd prodc hvy bombrdmnt from th FCOM nd Fdrl Councl. Gnrl nt-communsm nd brnch prtculrsm md Brown nd th xcutv strong dfndrs of Blmn rghts gnst th ntrusons of th Communst cntrl ldrshp but dd not provd thm wth ny clr ltrntv polcy. Brown ws n unusully ncohrnt spkr nd t ws not dffcult to dft or rdcul hm n rgumnt. But h lookd t thngs n th wy th rnk nd fl dd, h ws on of thm, rflctng tttuds common n tht nvronmnt nd tm. nd so h rtnd th loylty of consdrbl mjorty of th rnk nd fl.

n th brnch lctons for 1943, hld t th bgnnng of tht yr, th communst fcton ld by Brsln rn full tckt, but th sttng offcls undr Brown won ll plcs by n lmost two-to-on mjorty. Th Communsts vgorously dfndd ll ctons of th Fdrl ldrshp nd wr hghly crtcl of th conduct of brnch ffrs. Thy hd com nto th brnch n som strngth durng th wr nd found thr mn support n th smll shops nd lnd shops. t Cocktoo nd Mort's thr followng ws smll.

Th conflct n th Blmn brnch, howvr, ws not smpl powr struggl btwn th ncumbnt old Blmnrs nd th Communst chllngrs. n rtcult opposton to Communst strtgy nd tctcs bsd on prncp1 nd polcy hd bgun to mrg by th nd of 1942. ts orntton ws Trotskyst nd ts prncpl spoksmn N. Orglss t Morts Dock, nd ltr L. Short t Cocktoo.

vn bfor Jun 1941 whn th Communst Prty nd th Trotskysts hd opposd th wr, thr rsons hd n no wy bn dntcl. ftr ntlly chrctrsng th wr s struggl gnst fscsm nd supportng th Wstrn dmocrcs n Sptmbr 1939, th ustrln prty hd thn, wth promptng from th Comntrn, concludd tht th wr ws conflct btwn mprlst powrs nd tht th workng clsss owd no llgnc to thr rspctv govrnmnts. But snc th mn proccupton of Communsts ws, nd hd long bn, dfnc of th Sovt Unon, prty polcy s long s th Grmn-Sovt non-ggrsson pct lstd ws quvocl n ts nt-fscsm nd ssntlly drctd towrds contnng th wr n ordr to prvnt dvrson of th Grmn ttck gnst th Sovt Unon. Th Trotskysts, who hd hld consstntly nt-fscst poston throughout th 1930s, mntnd thr nt-fscsm durng th wr, but rgrdd th lttr s conflct brought bout by rvlrs btwn th dclnng mprlst powrs, Brtn nd Frnc, nd prdtory nwcomrs ld by Grmny. Th knd of rgm found ncssry for th cptlst clss n ny country ros from th prtculr condtons thr, nd, whthr t ws bourgos dmocrtc or fscst, ts ssntlly mprlst chrctr rmnd unchngd. Thus thy sw no cs for dfndng th dmocrcs gnst th ssults of Grmn fscsm, nor dd thy dmt tht th wr ms of th dmocrcs wr nt-fscst. Thy ssrtd tht th fundmntl struggl of th proltrt ws gnst wr nd mprlsm, gvng rs to th prncpls tht th chf nmy ws n on's own country, nd n wr th dft of on's own mprlst govrnmnt ws th lssr vl.

On th quston of ntonl dfnc, th progrm of trnstonl dmnds of th congrss of th Fourth ntrntonl of 1938 sttd tht dfnc of th fthrlnd could b ccptd "only f w frst bnd our own cptlsts hnd nd foot nd hndr thm from ttckng forgn fthrlnds; f th workrs nd th frmrs of our country bcom ts rl mstrs; f th wlth of th country b trnsfrrd from th hnds of tny mnorty to th hnds of th popl; f th rmy bcoms wpon of th xplotd nstd of th xplotrs".14

Whn both groups wr n opposton to th wr, crtn tctcs of non-co-oprton wth th govrnmnt n th form of rsstnc to conscrpton nd mntnnc of th rght to strk wr not wdly dvrgnt, yt th mthods of puttng ths nto ffct wr ntrly dffrnt. Th Trotskysts t ll tms trd to drw ssntl ndustrl dcsons nto th hnds of mss mtngs n th workshops nd out of th hnds of unon offcls nd commtts. Thy, of cours, opposd th cntrlsng tndncs of th ronworkrs' ldrs s burucrtc nd undmocrtc. n xmpl of th Trotskyst pproch to th quston of mss control ovr ndustrl cton pprd n Fbrury 1941 n on of Orglss's frst rcordd ntrvntons n th brnch mnuts. bolrmkrs' nd ronworkrs' bn on ovrtm of mor thn 16 hours wk ws bout to b lftd by th xcutvs of th Sydny brnchs of th two unons nd th Blmn brnch ws followng sut, rluctntly, n vw of th dcson of rcnt mss mtng of ronworkrs nd bolrmkrs, whch hd bn to contnu th bn. Orglss's mndmnt to th moton lftng th bn ws tht "w cll on th Bolrmkrs' nd Cty ronworkrs ' Unons to honour th prncpl undrstood by th rnk nd fl, tht s: wht combnd mss mtng puts on, only combnd mss mtng cn tk off".15 t ws ruld out of ordr.

Whn th Communst Prty ln chngd, th Trotskysts dd not s th mprlst chrctr of th wr s ltrd. dmttng th nd to dfnd th USSR, thy nvrthlss dd not blv tht th proltrt of n mprlst country could do ths through ts own govrnmnt. n tmporry nd unstbl llnc btwn th USSR nd cptlst dmocrcs, th workrs n th lttr countrs rmnd n clss opposton to thr own govrnmnts nd supportd th non-mprlst lly n thr own wy, tht s, through th ntrntonl clss struggl. Furthrmor thy dd not dntfy thmslvs n ny wy wth th "Thrmdorn burucrcy" tht ruld th USSR.16

ftr Jun 22, 1941, th polcs of th Trotskysts nd Communsts dvrgd compltly, th Trotskysts contnung to clm th nd to crry on dfnc of th clss ntrsts of th workrs n opposton to mployrs, govrnmnt nd th Communst Prty. Th totlly opposd pproch of th two groups cn b sn n th mttr of th dsmssls of Brsln nd othrs from Cocktoo. Th Communst-sponsord moton t th brnch mtng n Sptmbr 1942, n mpld cnsur of Brown, ws tht th FCOM b skd to nvstgt th crcumstncs of th dsmssls. n ddndum ws movd tht th FCOM b rqurd to go nto ll css of dsmssls undr mnpowr rgultons nd tht nomls b tkn up wth th Mnstr of Lbour. Orglss movd tht bcus of th nt-workng-clss ntur of th rgultons th FCOM ltr ts polcy so tht t opposd th rgultons. Not surprsngly, ths ws ruld out of ordr.17

By 1942, Orglss, mployd t Mort's Dock snc 1940, ws suffcntly wll stblshd to b lctd s unon dlgt for th bolrshop, whr most of th ronworkrs t th dock wr mployd. H nd th smll group round hm bgn to ssu ronod sht, Th Soclst, n Jun, whch clld for ntonlston of mjor ndustrs undr workrs' control, n nd to th stuntng of consumr ndustry cusd by dprvng t of lbour n th ntrsts of wr producton, crton of popl's mlt nd opposton to th xtnson of conscrpton for ovrss srvc to th Ctzn Mltry Forcs. Ths progrm ws lnkd wth vgorous ttcks upon th Communst Prty for ctng s n gnt of th cptlst clss nd th Curtn Govrnmnt. Th uthors of Th Soclst, wthout drctly opposng th wr, ttmptd to put forwrd trnstonl progrm, whch would ld th workrs, wthn th contxt of th wr, to dfnd thr own ntrsts n confrontton wth mployrs nd th govrnmnt. Ntonlston undr workrs' control nd th rmng nd trnng of workrs to form dfnsv mlt srvc, whch would b combnd wth work n cvln producton, ws polcy for ssrtng workrs' nttv, whch rn ntrly countr to th Communst Prty's support of th wr. Ths t tms vrgd on uncondtonl ccptnc of th wr ffort of th govrnmnt nd mployrs, s, for xmpl, whn th prty droppd th slogn of ntonlston s ultrlftst n prod whn t blvd t to b ssntl to wn th co-oprton of th cptlst clss.

Thornton, frcly compllng workng-clss ortor, who t th hght of th untd struggl gnst fscsm oftn xprssd n forcful nd ungurdd lngug sntmnts tht othr Communsts forbor to voc, summd up n sngl sntnc th blnkt justfcton for th chng n th prty ln. Pldgng support t th Fdrl Councl mtng n Dcmbr 1942 for th govrnmnt's proposl to xtnd th r of srvc for th mlt nto th Pcfc, h dlt wth th chrg tht untl Jun 1941 th Communst Prty hd workd ctvly n nt-conscrpton commtts nd hd opposd ny proposls for conscrpton for ovrss srvc. H sd smply, "n supportng ths wr, t s s f on stoppd nd nothr strtd, thr r dffrnt sghts, dffrnt combtnts nd dffrnt ssus nvolvd. "18

Th workshop shts publshd by Communst Prty brnchs n th wtrfront shops (th most mportnt bng th Rvt, ltr Dock Nws t Mort's nd Codock Nws t Cocktoo, both bgnnng n 1942) mt dffrnt nd from tht of Th Soclst. Mjor poltcl qustons for prty mmbrs wr dlt wth n th Trbun nd th Communst Rvw. Th workshop bulltns contnd job prs bout bd workng condtons nd crtcsms of producton nffcncs, togthr wth rports of fghtng on th Russn front, gnrl support for th wr ffort, nws of dock footbll tms nd rsults of rffls. n th rly ssus thr ws sldom ny ttmpt to nswr Trotskyst rgumnts, lthough Th Rvt publshd n rtcl obvously n rply to Th Soclst, on ntonlston of ndustry, whch sd tht th cll ws ll-tmd. 19 By 1943, howvr, thr wr shrp ttcks on th Trotskysts s sboturs nd bogus mltnts.

n th tmosphr of th ntns poltcl pssons of thos yrs, mmbrs of th Communst Prty rgrdd Trotskysm s snstr combnton of nt-Sovt trson nd nrchsm, whl for th Trotskysts th "Stlnsts" hd commttd th worst countr-rvolutonry crms of btryng th clss ntrsts of th workrs nd of colludng wth th cptlst clss, nd, n ddton, thr mthods of work fthfully rflctd th burucrtc dgnrton nd nt-dmocrtc prctcs of Stln's Sovt Unon.

1943 bgn wth wdsprd 24-hour stoppg by mtlworkrs n th Sydny r. Th Commonwlth Govrnmnt, usng th Ntonl Scurty Rgultons, hd cnclld Nw Yr's Dy s publc holdy on th grounds tht holdy on Mondy, Dcmbr 28, hd bn ddd to th Chrstms brk n lu of Nw Yr's Dy. But workrs rgud tht snc Boxng Dy hd flln on Sturdy, th Mondy holdy should b rgrdd s bng n lu of Boxng Dy. Thr wr dmnds on th job for ssurncs tht doubl tm would b pd for workng on Nw Yr's Dy. Whn ths ws rfusd mny mtl trds workrs nnouncd thr ntnton of tkng th dy off n spt of thr unons' offcl polcy of workng th dy nd tryng to gt ssurncs from th govrnmnt tht thr would b consultton wth th trd unons bfor ny mor publc holdys wr cnclld s pd dys of lsur. Dlgt Orglss notfd th Blmn brnch scrtry on Dcmbr 21 tht ronworkrs nd bolrmkrs t Mort's bolrshop hd dcdd not to work on Nw Yr's Dy f thy wr not to b pd doubl tm. 20

Th Fdrl offcrs' vw of th unoffcl stoppg ws vgorously sttd n th Fbrury ronworkr.21 n n rtcl hdlnd Nw Yr Strkrs Dfd Unon. Why Stoppg Ws Wrong. nswrng thr own quston wht hd bn chvd by th strk, thy rpld, "Som workrs hv qut unncssrly lost dy's py, no strngth hs bn ddd to our clm for vrton of th wrd, dy's producton hs bn lost nd th trd unon movmnt hs bn hld up to rdcul for lck of dscpln. No gn of ny form whtsovr wll flow from ths stoppg."

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