SYDNEY — Some 350 warehouse workers at Coles distribution center in Smeaton Grange in southwest Sydney have been picketing since the bosses locked them out Nov. 19.
Coles announced they decided to extend the three-month lockout indefinitely Feb. 9 after the workers refused the company’s latest offer. Coles, one of the major supermarket chains in Australia, had offered a $1,000 signing bonus to get the United Workers Union members to accept the offer.
On the picket line Feb. 8 workers told Militant worker-correspondents that the company’s offer was just a bribe to try and get them to settle. “It was like offering a lollipop to a child to stop crying,” one said.
Workers are continuing their fight for a redundancy (layoff) package that will provide satisfactory compensation when the warehouse closes in 2023 and to ensure that they do not face disciplinary action when they return to work.
All we want is “an agreement that recognizes the length of service that people have put in” and “protects the future of their families,” said Ian Dixon, one of the union delegates. “We want Coles to respect us.”
But in the midst of this battle, an anti-labor group known as the World Socialist Web Site has joined the bosses in attacking the workers and their union. They have gone to the picket line to aggressively tell workers they should quit the union, and, as a result, have been told they aren’t welcome there.
The website, run by a group that calls itself the Socialist Equality Party, has nothing to do with the fight of the working class or socialism. This outfit has a long history of trying to demoralize workers involved in labor battles and encourage them to quit their unions.
A Jan. 26 post described the workers’ union “as a police force for management.” It added, “What is required is a complete break with the union.”
This is the exact opposite of what is needed to advance the working-class fight. The road forward is not to split the union in the middle of a fight, but, through the struggle, to strengthen our unions. “On a fight like this you realize who the union is,” Ian Dixon said, “It’s all of us together here.”