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Workers control

Work for a bowl of rice a day

I did work for the dole at various places around Darwin a few years back: Vinnies, Larrakia Nation office (the Larrakia are the traditional owners of the Darwin area), and at the Aviation Heritage Centre. I had arranged to work at some other place I can't remember the name of (I think it was a housing co-op) but that fell through. I was angry about being made to do slave labour. I wanted to protest and resist it but I was on a good behaviour bond with a suspended jail sentence for political activity hanging over me at the time. I was luckier than other people, even though I certainly didn't feel lucky! I only ever had to do 1 day a week. Others were made to do more: 2 days, or maybe even 4! They sure seemed to come down harder on the young, and on those who complained about having to do it. At Vinnies I knew the person in charge from activist circles I'd worked in. Gave us breakfast with the long grassers (homeless people). This person was pretty cool and had us painting a pergola. I think she let us go home early and ticked off our names as if we'd worked the whole day.

Larrakia Nation was pretty slack. Once we mowed the grass in the bushtucker garden at the back of Royal Darwin Hospital. Another time wewere clearing infestations of the mimosa pigra weed along the banks of Rapid Creek near the university. I pretended I didn't know how to use the whippersnipper or brushcutter or whatever it was so I ended up just collecting the pieces the other guys cut down. As Larrakia rangers they were getting paid something like a proper wage, I believe. CDEP (Community Development Employment Program) pay plus top up.

I remember doing a bit of work in the garden at the Larrakia Nation office on a couple of days, and shovelling up dirt in the car park at the back another day. But a lot of the time we didn't have to work there as it was badly organised. We'd sit around talking for hours, waiting for someone in authority to tell us to do something. Those in charge never knew how many people who were supposed to be there for WftD would actually turn up. There might be 18 names on the list, but 6 or 7 would turn up. Or maybe 1 or none. A few times I showed up there to find I was the only one. Some guy told me, "You always turn up. But no-one else is here. So I'll just tick your name off and you can go." The Aviation Heritage Centre was a museum featuring a B-52 bomber from the USA, surrounded by many smaller aircraft and artifacts going back to WWII and earlier. I used to enjoy reading the info and learning history while dusting and polishing the planes and things and sweeping the floor.

There were also 2 Aboriginal women and a tall Sudanese man doing WftD there. The woman from WA said the WftD was demeaning. There was nothing much we could do about it though.

One day I wore an old t-shirt a friend had given me. He'd sprayed ANARCHY NOW on the back in red. I thought the writing had faded and was hardly visible any more. Unfortunately it was visible and the boss noticed it even though he couldn't make out what it said. He marched up to me and said, "You're not working inside with that on your shirt! What's it say? Wanker? Go outside and sweep the leaves out of the big carpark out the front!" (I thought, "There's only one wanker around here, mate, and it's not me!") But I didn't say that. I said, "I'm not going back outside unless I get some sunscreen to put on. (Because I'd got a bit sunburnt working out there before.) Boss man storms off in a huff.

One time he made me stay back late and help lift a heavy bbq into a dumpster. I hurt my back doing that. The following week I forked out $27 to see a doctor who thought I was faking back pain. (Good luck getting bulk billing in Darwin! They made you feel like a criminal just for asking.) Just so I didn't have to do slavery that week. I hated it. Had to do it another week instead.

That boss was a prick. He'd sit upstairs bludging in his air-conditioned office while the rest of us, paid staff and slaves alike, soldiered on in the heat and humidity. Once during a break he bragged to us how he'd bought a car, an old bomb, in Darwin for a few hundred bucks, and had it shipped over to East Timor where he sold it to a Timorese guy for $3000.

After I left I heard from my friend who still worked there in the shop and doing the guided tours, that they caught that boss with his hand in the till. The board sacked him but didn't press charges. I think I had to do WftD for 6 months, 1 day a week. Centrelink bureaucrats surprised me at one stage. They told me I didn't have to do any more of it. I thought they were mistaken but I didn't argue! Later they discovered their mistake and I had to go and work the remaining couple of days.

All in all it was a shitty experience being a slave. I'd always thought that if I were ever told to do Work for the Dole I'd refuse, find a way out of it somehow. But when it happened I couldn't get out of it. Not that I had the worst of it. Plenty of people copped it a lot worse than me. Aboriginal people particularly.

I heard of people in remote communities like Kalkaringi being made to do 30 hours a week work for the dole and on top of that getting punished with income management as well. If they refused this slavery they'd get no money. The government wouldn't dare try that on in a place like Sydney. They seem to use the NT as a sort of social laboratory and Aboriginal people as guinea pigs, to see how much abuse of people's human rights they can get away with.

In conclusion I can sum up my limited experience by saying that Work for the Dole is really about more than work. It's about power and control. It's rich bastard governments punishing people who are unemployed. It's class warfare, and race warfare. If people are doing that work they're not unemployed and should at least be paid award wages like anyone else. Anything less is bullshit.

 

Murder in Tottenham: Australia's first political assassination – book launch and discussion with the author

Sunday, February 21, 2016 -
2:00pm to 4:00pm
In 1916, as World War 1 raged and Australia debated conscription, tensions that had been boiling beneath the surface exploded with the shooting death of a police officer in western NSW. In less than three months two members of the Industrial Workers of the World, or Wobblies, were hanged in the most politicised and polarising example of capital punishment since Ned Kelly. Murder in Tottenham: Australia's first political assassination is a new book which examines these deaths and what drove bush workers to fly the IWW's flag of industrial revolution.
 
At this special free event, the author, Rowan Day will launch and discuss his book – 2pm, 21 February at Jura.
 

Red and Black Forum: Anarchism, Marxism and economics

Sunday, October 25, 2015 -
2:00pm to 4:00pm

Red and Black Forum: Anarchism, Marxism and economics – a discussion of Ronald Tabor's "The Tyranny of Theory: a Contribution to the Anarchist Critique of Marxism." Presented by Paul Rubner and Sid Parissi.

Anarchists have sometimes accepted Marx's economic analysis, though not Marxist politics. In recent years, especially since the GFC, there has been renewed interest in economic matters, and by some anarchists, in 'Marxist economics'. This has polarised opinion among anarchists as to the validity of Marx's critique of political economy, and its relevance to anarchism. This Forum will be a discussion between Paul Rubner and Sid Parissi of these matters, with reference to Tabor's book.

Reading Tabor’s book is recommended, however not absolutely necessary. You’ll still get a lot out of the discussion if you haven’t read the book. It is available at Jura for $45.

 

 

 

Provisional Anarchist Federation Australia formed

 

At a meeting on 14th June 2015 at Jura Books, delegates from four anarchist groups agreed to form a provisional Anarchist Federation Australia. The four founding groups were Jura Books, the Melbourne Anarchist Club, the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group and Perth Libertarians. At the meeting a number of individual observers were also present as well as an observer from Black Rose and Black Flag. The provisional Federation is based on this constitution. However the constitution is still being discussed, and changes may be made at the first Congress of the Federation - tentatively scheduled for December 2015 in Melbourne. As well as being geographically diverse, the groups making up the federation have a range of political differences, but we hope to work together cooperatively to spread anarchist ideas in Australia. Other anarchist groups are welcome to join us.

 

Interview: anarchism and the meaning of freedom

Jeremy was interviewed by Daisy, a high-school student from Blacktown, in July 2014.

"Hi Daisy, I've done my best to answer your questions properly, but briefly. It was very difficult! You've asked lots of interesting and challenging questions which we anarchists think deserve thorough consideration. In fact, that's exactly why we at Jura run a bookshop and library filled with thousands of books dealing with these questions and issues! I hope you will come in and check them out – you'll find much more thorough answers than the ones I've given below.

Fighting for housing and workplace justice using solidarity networks

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 -
6:00pm to 8:00pm

SeasolPresentation by members of the Seattle Solidarity Network (USA)

 

Ever been ripped off or abused by a boss or landlord and wanted to do something about it? Come to this event to learn a bit more about Solidarity Networks. There will be a presentation by former and current members of the Seattle Solidarity Network ('SeaSol'), followed by a discussion about attempts to organise using a Solidarity Network model in Sydney.

SeaSol is an all-volunteer, mutual aid group that organises direct action campaigns to make bosses, landlords and other authority figures 'pay what they owe.' The goal is to support fellow workers' strikes and struggles, build solidarity, and organise to deal with specific job, housing, and other problems caused by the greed of the rich and powerful. Come hear about two members personal experiences, views and lessons. 

Sydney Solidarity Network ('SydSol') is a new  all-volunteer group of workers, students and unemployed people in Sydney. We have formed this network to respond to problems people like us face when bosses treat us unfairly or take advantage of us. We hope to solve these issues ourselves using solidarity - meaning that we stand up for each other and have each other’s backs. We believe that our solidarity network can be a tool to fight against many of the problems that we face in our everyday lives.


MORE ABOUT SEASOL:

"SeaSol is a volunteer network of working people who believe in standing up for our rights. Our goal is to support our fellow workers' strikes and struggles, build solidarity, and organize to deal with specific job, housing, and other problems caused by the greed of the rich and powerful.  We see our efforts as helping to build a powerful and democratic working class movement.  One day we will be strong enough to  take full control over our lives.

A few examples of what we do.

➢ Bert got his rental deposit stolen. He and a group of Solidarity Network supporters visited the property manager at her home one morning, and within a few days she paid up.

➢ Jorge was owed $892 of wages, and the boss adamantly refused to pay. Jorge and a group of other workers visited the boss’s house, then leafleted the boss's church twice on Sunday mornings. After that, the boss agreed to pay Jorge every cent.

➢ Stephanie, Yvette and other long-term motel residents demanded relocation assistance when they were ordered out of their homes at short notice. Organized with the Solidarity Network, motel tenants and  supporters defied eviction threats, visited the landlords’ neighborhood and launched an online and on-the-streets boycott campaign. Within a  month the landlords met all our demands, paying 3-months’ rent per  household to all residents who got involved.

MORE INFO AT WWW.SEASOL.NET

 

Red & Black Forum: Brian Martin on Participatory Alternatives to Electoral Democracy

Sunday, December 15, 2013 -
2:00pm to 4:00pm

Unicorn in the ballot boxElection campaigns and voting allow people to participate in politics, but only to a very limited extent. Various participatory options exist, including referenda, self-managing collectives, consensus decision-making, small-scale government units, and randomly selected decision-makers.

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