Rank-and-File Organising for Palestine

The following article first appeared in The Anvil, Vol 13, No 2, published 30 March 2024.

Members of the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group are organising in their unions and their workplaces for Palestine.

In October (The Anvil, Vol. 12, No. 6) we argued that “the only way to halt the invasion and stop Israel’s murderous bombing of Gaza is for the working class to act”. Whilst the bulk of the Israeli working class is united behind their military, Israel is dependent on imports for the majority of armaments. This means that the international working class can act to cripple its military. Australia exports military equipment to Israel. As a result, workers in Australia in the arms, transport, and maritime industries are in a position to disrupt these exports to Israel.

As We predicted in October, Trade Union officials have been unwilling to translate their tepid support for Palestinian rights into industrial action on the ground particularly where it is illegal. There has been some tacit union support for “community pickets” targeting Israeli owned ZIM shipping, and in Sydney, MUA officials have participated in these actions themselves. But this has not yet translated into any sustained industrial campaign.

Some activist groups have sought to substitute themselves for industrial action by workers. Activists have repeatedly blockaded the factory of Australian arms manufacturer HTA, which produces a component used in the F-35 that Israel uses to Bomb Gaza. In this and other workplaces, protest blockades can cause costly disruptions for these genocide enablers. But production and transport resumes whenever the blockaders go home, or when the police attack and smash the community blockade.

To achieve the serious disruption required, there is no substitute for working class power. Workers must collectively refuse to produce or transport war material, fuel, and other relevant supplies destined for Israel. Our strategy must be aimed at making this possible. Is is up to rank-and-file union militants to organise for an industrial campaign that can win, from the base of the unions.