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Craig Johnston, welcome back to the struggle!
Socialist Alliance today welcomed one of its most prominent members, former Victorian AMWU state secretary Craig Johnston, back to freedom and to the looming struggle against the Howard government’s industrial relations laws.
Sue Bolton, a national trade union coordinator for Socialist Alliance, said Johnston’s release yesterday from Victoria’s Loddon Prison had “given back the union movement one of its most important generals when he is most needed”.“With its industrial relations ‘reforms’ the Howard government is on the warpath against organised labour”, Bolton said. “It needs leaders who can inspire and organise popular resistance and real on-the-streets opposition. Craig is nothing if he is not such a leader!”
Ms. Bolton stressed that Johnston should never have received his nine-month sentence for “affray” at Skilled Engineering and Johnson Tiles in 2001.
“The failure of much of the union movement to oppose that criminal witchhunt can only have encouraged Howard in his present course”, Bolton added. “It’s high time for the ACTU and the national leadership of the AMWU to stop distancing themselves from Craig. They should let bygones be bygones and unite with him and all those workers who support him in the struggle against Howard.”
Bolton said that the Socialist Alliance fully supported Johnston’s call for a campaign to drive Howard out of office.
She concluded: “A fightback against the Coalition’s industrial relations attacks will also be a struggle for justice for all those against whom this awful government has committed crimes—people on welfare, refugees and asylum-seekers, Indigenous Australia and the people of Iraq.”
Craig Johnston will be speaking at the National Trade Union Fightback conference (Trades Hall, Melbourne, June 11) and at the Fourth Socialist Alliance National Conference (Trades Hall, Melbourne, June 12-13).
For further information: Sue Bolton 0413 377 978 Lisa Macdonald 0413 031 108
Former union leader plans to rejoin fray
May 25, 2005 - 3:54PM
Militant unionist Craig Johnston is set to walk free from prison and has vowed to join the fight against changes to federal industrial laws.
Johnston, who was jailed for nine months in August for his role in union raids on two Melbourne businesses in 2001, has told supporters he was relishing the thought of joining the campaign against the planned legislation.
"The fight-back is coming," he said in a letter to the Socialist newspaper, Green Left Weekly.
But the mainstream labour movement fears the involvement of Johnston, a former Victorian secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), would be counter productive.
AMWU national secretary Doug Cameron, who is also a vice-president of the ACTU, said Johnston would not be welcome back in his old union.
Johnston will be released from the medium security Loddon Prison at Castlemaine, in central Victoria, about 9am (AEST).
Sue Bolton from the Free Craig Johnston campaign said several union leaders, including the state secretary of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, Martin Kingham, would be at the prison to greet him.
He was sentenced to two years and nine months, with nine months to be served immediately and the remainder suspended for two-and-a-half years.
He was convicted on two charges of affray, one of assault and one of damaging property during the raids in June 2001, at Box Hill labour hire firm Skilled Engineering and Bayswater company Johnson Tiles.
Ms Bolton said the suspended sentence would not prevent Johnston from re-involving himself in militant unionism.
She said Johnston had not been broken by his prison experience.
"He's been following things extremely closely (in prison) ... and will do whatever is in his power to support the union struggle against the Howard government," Ms Bolton said.
"Obviously, there are probably some things that he can't be on the frontline for, but he's committed to human justice and workers rights and will be involved in various issues in different ways from the past.
"He will still have a suspended sentence hanging over his head and the powers that be will be looking for the tiniest excuse to put Craig behind bars again."
Johnston is listed among the speakers at the National Union Fightback Conference at the Victorian Trades Hall on June 11, alongside leaders from construction, manufacturing and maritime unions.
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Well done Craig with you get it going
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