This video from Australia is a short clip from the film “Constructing Fear”. For more, see here.
From Sue Bolton, in Melbourne, Australia:
Eureka flag and union insignia banned
17 November 2007
A lot of workers would have been shocked to read the report in the November 14 Melbourne Age about the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) ordering construction companies to remove union posters and signs and anything with the Eureka flag on it. …
The ABCC has even targeted training leaflets. It has told companies that CFMEU [trade union] leaflets on training have to be taken down because the leaflets have a union logo and union phone number on them.
“They’ve also asked companies to take down anti-Howard and anti-Work Choices stickers”, Watson told GLW. “It’s freedom of speech provided you’re not a union member. But if you’re a union member you can’t explain that you’re a member of a union by displaying a union sticker because by doing that, the government says that you’re saying it’s a union site. So there’s only freedom of speech if you’re a not a union member, if you’re anti-union. If you’re a union member, there’s no freedom of speech.” …
“This is happening on building sites all over Australia”, explained Watson. “Any building company that does any work for the federal government, or tenders for any work for the federal government, or builds a project where the federal government might be linked into some of the floors to put an office in, is covered by the code.”
At this stage, Watson said, the ABCC is mainly concerned about stickers on walls of sheds and the Eureka flag. But it’s also talking about hat stickers. He thinks that if PM John Howard gets re-elected, they will start talking about personal protective equipment and personal jumpers that have union logos on them.
“The companies find it hard to resist the ABCC”, said Watson, “because if they don’t comply, they get excluded from government projects and as you know those projects are worth hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars …” …
The ABCC is particularly targeting anything that displays the Eureka flag because they say it’s a union symbol. It claims that when a building site displays the Eureka flag it “conveys a message that union membership is not a matter of individual choice”.
Watson says that the Eureka flag is not a just symbol of trade unions, but a symbol of working-class struggle. “If someone is a union member and is proud to be a union member, and wants to wear a sticker on their hat or on their jumper, then they should be able to do that”, he said.
A protest against the banning of the Eureka flag will be held at 5pm on November 23 at the State Library, corner Swanston and La Trobe streets.
The Eureka flag was the flag of a miners’ uprising in Australia in 1854.
Update on Australian construction workers, September 2008: here.