The Guardian 28 September, 2005

Mateship out under IR laws

A Coffs Harbour teacher who moved Down Under to escape Reagan­omics in the US will become an Australian citizen so she can vote against John Howard’s workplace laws. She was just one of the many voices from regional New South Wales who spoke up at forums held as part of the Your Rights At Work tour across the north of the state last week.

Kim Connolly, who grew up in Canada, moved to Australia 19 years ago because she was impressed by the principles of mateship and the security of workplace laws.

"It’s all about the bottom line and the average working person gets crushed in the wake of it", says Ms Connolly of her experiences of working in the United States. "It’s a dog eat dog world that sets employee against employee. There is no mateship."

Connolly told an evening forum of around a hundred workers at Coffs Harbour of the perils of the US system, and of her desire to take out Australian citizenship so that she could vote against Howard at the next election.

She said she would be campaigning for other permanent residents to take out citizenship so that they could do the same.

Coffs Harbour was one of eight communities across northern NSW visited by the bright orange Unions NSW ‘Your Rights At Work’ tour bus last week.

Lismore and Tamworth also featured well-attended evening forums, while lunchtime crowds gathered in Macksville, Armidale and Newcastle.

Grafton and Glen Innes were also visited, along with workplaces in Maclean and Byron Bay.

In Lismore Big Brother contestant Tim Brunero promoted the Your Rights At Work campaign, being mobbed by over 400 screaming fans at a shopping mall in the process.

The tour explained the impact of proposed changes to workplace laws, which are set to radically affect working conditions across the country. They will reduce people’s rights at work, slashing penalty rates, annual leave, minimum wages, and permitting unfair dismissals.

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