The Guardian 1 June, 2005
NSW unions plan kick off campaign
Over 4000 union delegates attending meetings held at over 50 venues across the state were told, via the racing network, that a campaign against Howard’s workplace legislation was winnable. “When Unions NSW asked the general public in January this year if they thought Australia would be a better place without unions, the answer was a resounding ‘no’”, Unions NSW secretary John Robertson told the meetings.
“Ninety-three per cent of the people said Australia would not be a better place without unions. A campaign to harness this goodwill is winnable provided we play it smart; we are disciplined; and we have the energy and courage to engage directly with the community.”
A video screened for delegates used real life workplace examples to show how the changes would strip fundamental rights. Following the meetings many delegates were keen to get copies of the video to take back to their workplaces. “As delegates you will be the decisive players in this campaign”, Robertson told them. “We need to confront these changes, but we need to be smart about how we do that. We need to understand the impact of the new laws and explain how they will undermine our rights at work.
“These rights at work are the pillars of our Australian society; lose them and you lose a whole lot more.”
What you can do
As well as educating the community about the importance of rights at work, Unions NSW is calling on all unionists to become a part of the broader campaign, including:
Using the information kits available from the special campaign website at www.rightsatwork.com.au;
Keeping in touch with what’s going on through the Community Activists Network www.unionsnsw.org.au, which will keep people informed of key events
Being a part of the July Community month of action, with events planned across the state including
A roundtable of religious leaders, to bring people of faith into our campaign
Producing materials to highlight the specific effect of the changes on working families, and we are organising events to distribute these at railway stations, schools and child care centres
Working with sporting organisations, particularly junior sports, where fewer parents are able to commit time to volunteer and explain to them how these changes will affect them. (If you are active in a sporting or community club let your union know)
Attending the “Last Weekend” — a family protest picnic to be held at Sydney Olympic Park on Sunday August 7. The aim is to actually make it a fun way to make a serious point, with activities for the kids, food stalls and some great entertainment.
Each day of the last week of June unions will be participating in activities to draw public attention to the proposed changes, each day highlighting a specific right that is being attacked.
“The ACTU and Unions NSW, with your unions, are planning a sustained public campaign — backed by a major national TV and radio advertising blitz”, said John Robertson. “The ads on their own won’t win this — it is workplace delegates who will be the key part of this campaign.
“Let’s get on with it.”