Workers Party member Ian Anderson interviews socialist Stephen Jolly, on the Labor Party and recent union elections.
The Spark: Socialist Party recently committed to helping with the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) election, can you tell me why that was?
SJ: The Victorian branch of the ETU is probably the most militant trade union in Australia. When Dean Miles the current state secretary took over in the 1990s, workers on building sites were almost embarrassed to admit they were electricians. Now they’re the highest paid, best organised, and work the shortest week of any construction workers in Victoria – in an industry that’s 100% unionised, so that’s quite something.
And secondly, he’s taken the union out of the clutches of the Labor Party. The leadership organised an internal referendum to ask the members if they wanted to stay affiliated and by overwhelming majority of over 80%, they said no, we want to be independent of the Labor Party. At election time the ETU give election funds sometimes to the Greens, sometimes to what they consider better Labor candidates, and also to the Socialist Party.
We think they should go one step further, and work to create a new workers’ party.