Thursday, July 5, 2012

Some thoughts on yesterday's "Local Jobs" rally

Regular QBF readers will know that I’ve been dealing with a fair bit on the personal front lately. However, since baby and mum are almost settled into a routine, I’m again spending most of my time trying to find and build a new career.

Yesterday I thought I’d try my hand at a bit of photojournalism.

Hence, I went along to the local jobs rally at Parliament House yesterday armed with my camera and iPad, hoping to tweet the proceedings and add a couple of supportive images. It turns out listening, tweeting and trying to upload high quality images from a proper camera (i.e. not a smartphone) is a bit more difficult for a newbie independent commentator than I had envisaged – so kudos to these who manage to do it day in, day out.

Anyhow, the best this newbie could do was listen, occasionally tweet and upload some photos 4 or 5 minutes after they were taken. Here’s one of my favourites:

What I saw was a good couple of thousand passionate people, the vast majority of whom were either wearing or carrying some sort of union branding, lobbying the government in a fairly basic but effective way – with their bodies.

While it was an impressive turnout and certainly made a point, I couldn’t help but thinking how the impact on Government would have been much greater if there wasn’t so much overt Union branding.

Of course, for the CFMEU, MUA and their peers, this was an important opportunity to demonstrate that they still have the ability to get thousands of people to down tools and interrupt traffic – I get that and understand that’s why they would have encouraged the promotion of their respective brands. But unfortunately for those who are genuinely concerned about the issue of local content/jobs, the 99% saturation of Union t-shirts and banners make it very, very easy for any Liberal Government to just dismiss the rally as their known enemies doing their usual rabble-rousing.

I’m not suggesting any change in tactics for the Unions, but from the perspective of someone who loves to play political chess, I couldn’t help but wondering if the self-promotion was more valuable than landing a blow on the Government.

Having said that, there were two interesting things I heard guest speakers say that in retrospect might very well answer my own question:

  1. The declaration by one of the Union leaders that “we are finally working together again to get justice”, and
  2. The inclusion of a couple of Federal ALP Ministers on their hate list.

The first point was an interesting public confession that unions haven’t been working well together recently. Clever. Our Premier could learn a lot from the person behind that comment. Swallowing just a little bit of humble pie in front of those who have lost faith in you goes a long way to being forgiven.

But again, as a guy who has spent most of his adult life developing strategies for political change, I found the second point a little confusing. Why would the Unions choose to muddy the waters, or indeed, dilute their very pointy message to the State Liberal Government by throwing in some parts of the Federal ALP Government? Maybe adrenalin got the better of the speaker and it just slipped out or maybe Minister Ferguson is so universally stinky to the Union movement, they strategically dropped his name knowing it might damage the Federal ALP Government and blunt their WA message.

I don’t know which it is but thought it was one of the few interesting moments of the day.

PS. Perhaps something else our Premier could learn - it's important to support your supporters: a message clearly not lost on 2013 ALP candidates Reece Whitby and Bob Kucera who were there yesterday.

1 comment:

  1. There has long been turf disputes between the blue collar unions in WA. however I hear that a few of the old hatchets have been buried recently. particularly between the AMWU and CFMEU.

    I think those unions are going to great lengths to promote solidarity between members and to band together to fight on some of these industrial issues.