The Guardian 7 December, 2005

Your Rights at Work Committee set up

Following the decision of the October Central Committee meeting to call on all Party organisations to develop union-community alliance initiatives in the campaign against the industrial relations legislation, the Port Jackson Branch in Sydney decided it had to do something serious about this CC decision. The Branch set the formation of an inner Sydney campaign committee as their first target.

Some Branch members contacted local councils to get the latest lists of community organisations. Other members used this information to expand the Branchís existing database of local contacts. Another member took responsibility for booking and paying for the hall and getting the key.

One Branch member took on the job of approaching the MUA, CFMEU and AMWU State Branches to ask them to co-sponsor an initial meeting. All three unions agreed and also agreed to inform their local members.

Using the new database a large mailout was completed and every Branch member made a commitment to try to bring along at least one or two contacts.

"They must hate workers to pass these industrial relations laws", Warren Smith, Assistant Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia Sydney Branch and CPA Assistant General Secretary said in an opening contribution to the December 1 meeting of 37 community members and unionists.

The second contribution was made by Rebecca Reilly, Port Jackson Branch Secretary and Organising Coordinator for the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union NSW Branch.

She spoke about the especially difficult position of women, migrant and young workers and gave graphic examples of the exploitation they face.

"We havenít got a choice. We have to unite and fight these laws. We have to make them unworkable to put a stop to this unacceptable race to the bottom the government is inflicting on workers and their families", she said.

The rest of the meeting was taken up by speakers from the floor, many expressing their shock and rage about what the Howard Government is doing to our country. Speaker after speaker condemned the impact of the news laws on the community and many stressed that the governmentís anti-people agenda is being driven by the demands of the corporations and the drive for more and more profits.

The contributions from the floor and the comments made as informal discussion continued after the meeting closed made very clear the passion and determination among the participants.

There were many suggestions for action, with agreement that while defeat of the Howard Government is essential, action has to be taken by a united peopleís movement before the next election. A number of original ideas for action were suggested.

Participants stressed that if everyone gets behind this campaign to fight together for our families, our communities and our rights, we can make sure that the laws can never be used effectively against us.

The meeting decided to establish the Inner West Your Rights at Work Committee, to meet again in two weeks to draw up plans to contact many more community groups, individuals and local unions before Christmas, and to start campaigning in earnest in the New Year.

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