25, 50, and 75 years ago

April 17, 2023

April 20, 1998

SYDNEY — Thousands of unionists around Australia demonstrated April 8 to oppose the overnight sacking of 1,400 dockworkers — the entire workforce of Patrick, one of two main stevedoring companies in Australia.

At 11:00 p.m., in a coordinated military-style operation, hundreds of security guards with dogs evicted workers from the docks. The next morning, Minister for Workplace Relations Peter Reith was in Parliament proposing legislation to provide $250 million in loans to companies to fund the dismissals. This latest union-busting plan of the government follows months of attempts to break the Maritime Union’s closed shop on Australia’s wharves.

By 10:00 a.m. 5,000 unionists walked off their jobs to march to Patrick’s Darling Harbour terminal to support the sacked “wharfies.” Round-the-clock picket lines are being staffed.  

April 20, 1973

Ivan Dzyuba, prominent Ukrainian Marxist, was sentenced to five years imprisonment at a trial held during mid-March in Kiev. Dzyuba is best known for his book Internationalism or Russification?  a Leninist critique of the Russification policy currently being carried out by the Kremlin in Ukraine.

Dzyuba describes the Ukrainization process the Bolsheviks instituted in the early 1920s to encourage the development of Ukrainian language, literature, and culture and to foster the control by Ukrainians of their social, political, and economic life.

The current Soviet policy is a return to the Great Russian chauvinism that Lenin and the Bolsheviks fought so hard against. Dzyuba states that the restoration of the Leninist policy on nationalities is imperative “for the cause of building communism and for the fate of the world communist movement.”  

April 19, 1948

The House Un-American Committee has unanimously agreed on an omnibus witch-hunting bill to be introduced shortly in Congress. The aim of this vicious legislation is “to jail Communists.” The present Smith “Gag” Act will be amended to make it criminal to seek the “overthrow of the government by any means.”

In “illegal conspiracy” the committee includes disruption of “trade, commerce or government with intent to further the objectives of the world Communist movement.” When asked if this “disrupting trade” clause included strikes, the Un-American Committee replied that it could in strikes that were “primarily” political.

Considering how the coal stoppage was recently attacked as injuring U.S. foreign policy and how readily strikes are attacked as “political,” this clause can be used against militant unionists.