Cutting through the bullshit.

Friday 23 August 2013

Rocking the foundations

If you read this blog and are unfamiliar with the Green Bans, or if for some reason you've missed seeing Rocking the foundations, you're in for a treat.

I've been trying to track down a copy of this inspiring classic documentary for decades. It doesn't appear to have been available in any format. But just last month one sam wallman posted it on Youtube. Onya, Sam!

For background, here are a few paragraphs from Linda Kearns's review of Meredith and Verity Burgmann's book about the NSW Builders' Labourers' Federation (BLF)
The NSWBLF is particularly interesting since construction workers are so typically seen on the liberal left as the epitome of racism and sexism in the working class.  Yet this was a union which fought for the right of women to work in the construction industry, which vigorously supported abortion rights and other demands raised by the burgeoning women’s liberation movement and which backed up its support by turning out for marches on these issues.

Long before it became fashionable, the NSWBLF also supported gay rights, went on gay rights marches and used its industrial muscle, for example by placing a ‘pink ban’ on building work at a university where a gay student had been thrown out of a hostel.  And in a society in which anti-Aboriginal prejudice was rampant, the union was forthright in its anti-racist politics long before such views became fashionable.
The union also organised on a very democratic basis.  There was a high degree of rank and file control, including over all agreements.  Most of the officials had worked in the building industry.  All officials, even publications editors, had to come from the shop floor, and officials had to return there after six years in full-time positions in the union.  Officials’ pay was tied to award rates, an important measure in preventing them from becoming a self-serving elite connected more to the bosses than to the workers they represented.

...Perhaps what the NSWBLF was most known for, however, was ‘green bans’.  The construction workers risked their jobs to place bans on indiscriminate development which was tearing down much of inner-city Sydney and evicting working class people from their homes, as well as over-running parks and bush.  These campaigns were carried out in conjunction with local residents’ committees, forging an alliance between organised labour and the local community which made it especially hard for the bosses, the state and the media to isolate militants or push through the ‘re-development’ plans.
Watch it! I insist!

h/t Linda Kearns via Philip Ferguson via Marxmail