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No Truck with the Chilean Junta!

No Truck with the Chilean Junta!: Trade Union Internationalism, Australia and Britain, 1973–1980

Ann Jones
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    No Truck with the Chilean Junta!
    Book Description:

    When lorry drivers in Northampton slapped stickers on their cabs declaring ‘No truck with the Chilean Junta!’ they were doing more than threatening to boycott. They were asserting their own identity as proud unionists and proud internationalists. But what did trade unionists really know of what was happening in Chile? And how could someone else’s oppression become a means to solidify your own identity? The labour movements of Britain and Australia used ‘Chile’ as an impetus for action and to give meaning to their own political expression, though it was not all smooth sailing. Throughout the 1970s, social movements and unions alternately clashed and melded, and those involved with ‘Chile’ were also caught within the unhappy marriage of the cross-cultural left. This book draws together the events and stories of these complex times.

    eISBN: 978-1-925021-54-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of abbreviations
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    As a lorry driver in Northampton pulls himself up into the seat of his cab on a brisk morning before sunrise, he might not seem like an international political actor. But he is. As he reverses and glances through the back window of his truck, he looks past stickers. One of them reads: ‘NO TRUCK WITH CHILE!!’

    It’s a seemingly inconsequential sticker, but it articulates something very grand in concept: that workers on one side of the world could alleviate the suffering of workers living under a dictatorship on the other.

    On 11 September 1973, an alliance of the Chilean...

  6. Britain

    • 1. The ‘principal priority’ of the campaign: The trade union movement
      (pp. 25-62)

      The twenty-seven-year-old was meant to be at work at a computer centre at the Forestry Institute in Santiago, Chile. Instead he dozed in his small flat on Ezaguirre Street. When he woke he went to the balcony at the front of the flat and looked down the street. From there he could see that the military putsch had finally come.

      The Chilean Communist Party had previously issued a general instruction to its supporters to proceed to their place of work at the first sign of the imminent civil war. So Gatehouse set off. Crossing the city to the Forestry Institute...

    • 2. A ‘roll call’ of the labour movement: Harnessing labour participation
      (pp. 63-88)

      The Chile Solidarity Campaign’s strategy at the 1974 May Day rally was simple: assemble a strong contingent and move as close to the front as possible. The CSC was hoping that Lawrence Daly of the National Union of Mineworkers would mention Chile in his address, and they planned to hand out 15 000 copies of a special leaflet covering the situation of trade unions in Chile.¹

      Like participation in May Day, trade union involvement in the movement of solidarity with Chile used a range of strategies familiar to any student of democratic politics in Britain, from mass demonstrations to petitions....

    • 3. ‘Unique solidarity’? The mineworkers’ delegation, 1977
      (pp. 89-116)

      The delegation had arrived in Chile just in time for May Day.¹ Protests on the streets were banned and the junta refused permission for official unions to celebrate the radical holiday; but they could not ban a mass for the feast of St Joseph, the Worker. Three British miners donned their jackets and joined a procession of Chilean trade unionists into the cathedral. They ‘witnessed the scenes of enthusiasm and defiance as the crowd chanted freedom slogans under the eyes of the military’.²

      It was the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) which sent the delegation to Chile in 1977 and...

    • 4. Pinochet’s jets and Rolls Royce East Kilbride
      (pp. 117-152)

      The helmet looked too big for his head. It sat awkwardly askew, falling backwards, and the man beneath looked up and out through thick-rimmed glasses. One hand grasped a machine gun, but his jacket still held its pocket square and remained buttoned up over his patterned jumper. He looked like a grandfatherly academic pulled away from his desk to defend the country. It was 11 September 1973 and these were the last hours of President Salvador Allende’s life. Planes roared over the Chilean capital. The whine of their engines reverberated off the old buildings and cobbled streets in the centre...

  7. Australia

    • 5. Opening doors for Chile: Strategic individuals and networks
      (pp. 155-180)

      Steve Cooper doesn’t fit the present-day image of a man involved in radical politics.

      He didn’t in 1973 either.

      He was forty-five years old with a gentle disposition and gentlemanly manners. A full moustache offset a receding hairline, and conservative clothes didn’t give away his passionate interest in workers’ democracy.

      It was that interest which led him to Chile in 1973.¹ Chilean political parties, Cooper reasoned, were free and the Allende Government was extending workers’ democracy and participation.² What was going on in Chile was a ‘revolution in democracy’, said Cooper, and he thought that if the situation remained untampered...

    • 6. ‘Chile is not alone’: Actions for resource-sensible organisations
      (pp. 181-200)

      For a grouping formed on the run, the Sydney May Day Committee was ambitious: for the first May Day after the Chilean coup, they invited Madame Allende to Australia.

      At best the committee was a loose amalgam of interested parties, most of whom were members or representatives of the SPA. While their invitation was not accepted, they were visited by Aída Insunza and Luis Muñoz.¹ Insunza had been a professor of labour law at the University of Chile, and the wife of the former minister for justice.² She was a woman of ‘small build but considerable presence’, reported theTribune.³...

    • 7. ‘Twelve Days in Chile’, 1974
      (pp. 201-222)

      Steve Cooper sat at a table looking across at a group of Chilean men. They were in a factory called Madeco, a metalworking establishment that Cooper had first visited a year before. The difference was that now Chile, and its workers, had been under military rule for six months. He observed the men closely, and noted that there were several newly appointed ‘union representatives’, and only one of the old committee.

      Cooper asked only one question: ‘When you have an industrial disagreement with the boss and you get no satisfaction after exhausting negotiation—what practical action can you take?’


    • 8. ‘Not one pound of wheat will go’: Words and actions
      (pp. 223-254)

      TheHolstein Expresswas crewed by Indonesian seamen, but it sailed under a Liberian flag.¹ Its Australian agents, Dalgety and Patricks, had been charged with the shipment of 600 dairy cows to Chile. In the week of 4 December 1978, the ship attempted to dock in Newcastle to load but was black banned by Australian workers. Union members would not assist with loading the cargoes. They simply refused. After discussion between the workers’ representatives and the agents, it was agreed that the ship could anchor outside the harbour in Stockton Bight and receive water and stores.² It remained off Newcastle...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 255-264)

    On 3 June 2009, at the Moneda Palace in Santiago, Joan Jara rose to give a speech of thanks. She looked at Michelle Bachelet, the then President of the Republic of Chile. They had both been victims of the military dictatorship. The president had just signed the papers that would grant Jara Chilean citizenship. Jara finally—officially—joined a people she had talked about as her own for almost her entire adult life.

    Jara told of the responsibility she felt when she left Chile after the coup and the death of her husband: solidarity work had given her something to...

  9. Appendix
    (pp. 265-268)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 269-298)
  11. Index
    (pp. 299-304)