Sally McManus has , in my opinion, been the unfortunate victim of some very bad press. I am not a unionist myself but I accept that one of unions’ traditional areas has been protest against unjust laws and subsequent poor conditions of workers. Just look at Joe Hill and our own Jack Munday, both now revered for their protests.
The beauty of our country and in the principles of democracy lie in a right for each of us to have our say which includes a right to protest against bad laws and bad government decisions. And what better way to protest than to, as peacefully as possible, breach such laws? One has to be aware, of course, that this breach may lead to a prosecution and punishment. But the argument and representations about this in itself often lead to a reconsideration about such laws.
Democracy cannot be passive. It is rule by the people for the people by definition.
Big business has always had enough power to get the ear of the government. The workers have had to traditionally rely upon unity and sometimes protest, to do this.
I have broken the law in protest and I view myself as a good, concerned citizen. I recently did not vote in a State Government election for three reasons I considered very strong. One of those is that I think compulsory voting is non democratic. To have to cast a valid vote and be, technically, in breach of the law if you do not, is in my view a bad law. So I decided, in protest, not to pay the fine and go to court. During all this I considered myself to be a good, conscientious citizen.
So have many unionists over the years who have protested about very major issues including poor industrial conditions and laws, rights of workers and protection of the environment.
May they continue to do so.