The Guardian 30 March, 2005

June 30 IR day of action

Victorian Trades Hall last week launched its campaign against the Howard government’s proposed changes to the industrial relations system during a meeting at Dallas Brooks Hall. Two thousand delegates committed to fight for a “fair and universal” system that protects workers.

From July 1, the Howard government will have control of the Senate. It plans to rip up the award system and wipe out all the gains that workers and their trade unions have made over the past 150 years of struggle.

Federal Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews refuses to guarantee that no worker will be worse off under the proposed changes. But workers WILL be worse off as they work harder, longer and for less pay. Their employers, big and small, will be much better off as workers’ losses flow in the form of private profits. Victorian union members vowed to stand up to the government and campaign for:

  • Comprehensive and reasonable award wages and conditions and a regular minimum wage adjustment set by an independent AIRC (Australian Industrial Relations Commission)

  • A system that applies to all workers without discrimination

  • The right for workers to organise and collectively bargain (at either the workplace or industry level) and not be forced into inferior individual contracts

  • The right to join a union and have immediate access to union advice, assistance and advocacy

  • The right to take industrial action and not face fines or jail.

    Unions endorsed a stop work and rally on June 30, the day before the government gains control of the Senate. With an absolute majority, the government plans to force through a raft of changes aimed at curtailing a wide range of hard-won workers’ rights (see The Guardian, March 16 issue).

    Union delegates called on the ALP nationally to commit to fighting against these changes and to reverse any changes when in office. They urged the Bracks government to explore all possible means, including legislation, to protect Victorian workers and their families.

    Delegates were urged to form a united front in Victoria and nationally conduct a long-term campaign against these changes and the Howard government.

    They endorsed the ACTU resolution of March 16, urging all unions to stop work and attend the Fair For All Rally on June 30 and commit to promoting it in workplaces, industries and communities.

    They urged other states to do the same and endorsed the need for further action in late August/September. All delegates were encouraged to hold a workplace meeting to discuss these issues and to call on their employer to reject the Howard agenda.

    The Communist Party of Australia strongly supports the defeat of the legislation and the Howard government. “It is time to come out fighting with a united mass movement of workers and all progressive sections of society. It will be easier to defeat the Howard government’s attacks now, rather than later when they become law”, the Central Committee of the CPA said in a statement at its meeting March 12-14.

    “Above all, it is necessary to bring about a united front of workers, trade unions and labour movement activists irrespective of political affiliation, all directed to defeat the Howard government’s dangerous offensive and implement policies that are in the interests of the working people.

    “The CPA strongly advocates these measures and declares its willingness to assist with its resources in every possible way.”

    The CPA aims to have May Day 2005 as a National Day of Action in the campaign to mobilise workers in opposition to the Howard industrial relations assault.

    “We call on all unions and workers to rally for May Day and make that day a successful starting point in the mobilisation against the Howard government’s plans. This should be followed by a National Day of Defiance before the bills go to Parliament”, the CC statement said.

    “John Howard’s assault can be stopped if the initiative and creativity of workers is unleashed with the organised labour movement playing a central role.”

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