Communist Party of Australia. 1961


The Trade Unions: Communist Theory and Practice of Trade Unionism

by Lance Sharkey.

Published: as “The Trade Unions: Communist Theory and Practice of Trade Unionism,” by L.L. Sharkey, for Communist Party of Australia, Current Book Distributors, Sydney January 1961. Wholly set up and printed in Australia by Newsletter Printery, 21 Ross St., Forest Lodge. First Impression: November, 1942, revised September, 1960;
Source: Left History Archive.

Author’s Preface to Original Edition

THE aim of this analysis of the Australian trade union movement is to show that without the consistent application of Marxism-Leninism to its problems, without a revolutionary theory, the trade union movement is doomed to futility, nay, more, is exposed to the same danger of its destruction, to the fate that befell the trade union movements of Germany, Italy, etc., at the hands of fascism.

I have endeavoured also to analyse a number of the main experiences in the history of the Australian movement in the light of Marxism-Leninism; the effects of the economic crises, the role of reformism, the major strikes and other features, that they might serve us as a guide in avoiding pitfalls, and to utilise these experiences to give a broad leadership to the trade unions in future battles.

I wish here to express appreciation of valuable assistance tendered in compiling the material by a number of Comrades, particularly Comrades Miles, Dixon, Thornton and Wright.

L. L. Sharkey., September, 1942.

Author’s Preface to 1959 Edition

In response to many requests for a reprint of “The Trade Unions” and, in particular, for some added information covering the period since the first publication, it has been decided to reproduce it.

Study groups especially were insistent on its re-publication, together with a brief account of major happenings since its initial appearance in September 1942.

It attempts, not to be a history, but to illustrate basic principles that underlie the trade union movement, in the light of Marxist-Leninism, of practice and experiences, and to analyse the changing conditions with which the trade unions are confronted in their long struggle against capitalist exploitation of the working class.

Incidentally, “The Trade Unions” was published in Japan and also used for educational purposes in other countries as well.

No basic changes have been made in its contents, as the principles outlined are valid today. In fact, it seems it has stood the test of time and changing conditions very well. Only minor alterations were made where the illustrations or events referred to are no longer of interest or educational value. The new data, which deals essentially with the events and experiences of the post-war period, is published as an appendix.

In addition to the comrades named in the original preface as giving valuable assistance in its original compilation, Comrades Dixon, Miles, Wright and Thornton, I wish to mention the aid given by Comrade Jack McPhillips in providing data for the added material.

L. L. Sharkey, September, 1959.

By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage-labour. By proletariat, the class of modern wage-labourers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labour power in order to live. -- Note by Frederick Engels to the Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848.