Opinion- Dave Phillips. the Socialist Wharfie.

We live and hope we never come across any individuals who make the life changing decision to become a scab. The scab grows up without the fibre to fight for the community or morals to stand for social justice .They are born with a total disregard for their fellow working man and woman.
How many good solid Union families have suffered at the hands of the scab when they slither alongside the bosses to smash picket lines and attempt to undo the work being done on behalf of the union membership and community? What for, some sycophantic self-gratification? There is no long term gain for them; they are a brainless tool in the box of the capitalist. 

The Scab has no boundaries; they will grovel, slither through shit and climb over every obstacle in their way to please their masters. The stigma they create for their scab families sticks forever like a contagious disease passed from one to the other, a burden carried by the innocent in their brood.
In the early and formative years of the trade union movement in New Zealand the Waterside Workers Union was always at the forefront in terms of industrial activism. The 1930’s through to the 1950’s it went up a notch culminating in the 151 day lockout of 1951.The union was defending the rights of the membership who even though they had been employed for 40 hours a week had to work in excess of 60 to earn a living wage now even 60 years later that sounds familiar. An overtime ban was called because union members felt they had suffered at the hands of bosses and ship owners for far too long.
The Tory Government of the day pulled out their snot covered horn, blew it and sent out the call for scab labour. From out of the sewers and cesspits they came, few in number but enough to give the Government of the time the ammo to take to the media and declare all is well on the waterfront we are servicing shipping at the ports. This was not the case, service delivery failure was rampant. We saw lines of blue clad thugs line the middle of Queen St to protect scabs signing up at the town hall and indeed in the streets bashing loyal members and defending the yellow filth on behalf of the government of the time.

Scabs were cattle herded into covered trucks in the mornings and driven on to the wharves through picket lines. This shows you the calibre of the filth, they didn’t even have the balls to show their faces yet the decision to shit on humanity came easily. Seemingly the way the scab operates doesn’t change with time as seen in one of our modern day disputes, the Napier dispute where the scabs where bussed in with heads covered or bowed out of sight of those on the picket lines defending their jobs. The power of organised union labour both locally and internationally prevailed and the scabs were driven off.

The lot of the solid wharfie was not made any easier by the sanitising and acceptance of scabs by the powers of the day starting with the Federation of Labour led by Finton Patrick Walsh, The labour Party lead by Walter Nash and of course the enemy of the working class Sid Holland of the Tory Party. By May 1951 with the endorsement of the above, the Scabs were running the new government implemented unions in all the main Ports in the country and making an absolute fist of it. The fact they had the audacity to use the proud name “Union” is disgusting in itself. This has taken many years to purge with a rebuilding of the relationship with the Labour Party and the now Council of trade unions, even though we tread slowly and carefully it is on-going. We can forgive but we won’t forget.

This is where the modern union movement fails miserably. Instead of promoting true activism in holding the line regarding the scab, unions today put up weak pickets and wave little banners. The scab should be stopped at the gate in their tracks. They should live everyday fearing a backlash and looking over their shoulders. The modern union needs to harden its approach to this treachery and dish out the contempt the scab deserves. The use of the term Scab is not derogatory, some diseases have names that we make no excuse for, and the scab deserves no less. To me the scab is the walking dead they do not exist.

60 years later and locked out again at the Auckland Port whilst scabs went through the pickets with a sense of impunity protected by the informational picket only laws which deny union members the right to protect their workplace. Union members were censured for calling them what they are. They even set up a union under the Labour Parties yellow union legislation went into negotiation, concluded in a matter of hours and sold of all the hard won conditions of our forebears.
The use of scabs is not confined to our shores, it is a worldwide epidemic fostered by global economic greed and the need of the few to grow their personal wealth. Globalisation along with the multi nationals have taken full advantage of their monetary positions to force into place legislation from the right-wing sector in many countries to enhance and legitimise the use of this filth, it happens worldwide. 

I can and never will be able to think, speak or give the reasoning of the scab it is morally beyond my comprehension but the words I use sum up the general perception of the scab. In the words of one of our unions poets “The stigma will remain passed from father to son, remember once tainted the damage is done” So in conclusion because the scab doesn’t deserve too long a recognition, to those that choose to ignore the scabs actions and seek to sit, confide and spend time with the scab you have the potential to be tainted with the stench he will take to his grave.


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