Workers’ Rights and Industrial

The federal government said on February 23 it would introduce several changes to the 457 temporary visa program, to take effect from July. The proposals were applauded by the Australian Council of Trade Unions and criticised by big business.

The turnout and energy at the March in May rallies on May 18 proved that people are not going to take this budget lying down.

We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with the people of Greece and the Syriza-led government as they prepare for a referendum on July 5, 2015 on whether to accept the continuation of the program of neoliberal austerity or chart a new course free from the debilitating stranglehold of the “troika” - the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission.  

Complaints by conservative commentators that Treasurer Scott Morrison and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have delivered a “Labor budget” show how low expectations are that any federal government in Australia will deliver a budget aiming to advance genuine social justice in this country.

A shake up is needed so that young workers can not only receive a fair wage, but also so they can see the relevance of unions in fighting for their rights at work.

The March in March protests across Australia over March 15-17 were a resounding success – not just because of their size, focus and breadth.

“Greece is turning the page,” SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras told an ecstatic crowd on January 25. The radical left party had just come first in historic elections in Greece with 36.3% of the vote.

The ABCC and Registered Organisations bills passed in the House of Representatives on October 18.

Jobs for all at a living wage

  • Legislate the minimum wage at around 60 per cent of average weekly earnings ($560 at the end of 2003).
  • Shorten the working week (without loss of pay) to spread around available work.
  • Stop privatisation and rebuild a modern, democratically managed public sector.

Repeal all anti-union laws, defend and extend the right to organise

  • Enact a workplace Bill of Rights that guarantees workers and unions the right to organise and protest. Full recognition of unions and union representatives.
  • Repeal the Workplace Relations Act, abolish Australian Workplace Agreements and Sections 45D and E of the Trade Practices Act.
  • Return to awards of general application and minimum standards.
  • Oppose the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Bill.
  • Oppose the Building Industry Taskforce and its interference in unions.
  • Guarantee the right of unions to cancel a bargaining period and begin a new one.
  • Oppose secret ballots on industrial action.
  • Oppose all attempts to outlaw or restrict pattern bargaining, protected industrial action, picketing and secondary boycotts.
  • Ban lockouts and the discriminatory sacking of union delegates.
  • Remove the prohibition on striking workers receiving unemployment benefit.
  • Oppose union liability to pay damages for industrial action.
  • Oppose court and government restrictions on who can stand in union elections.
  • Oppose government interference in the internal affairs of unions.

Make work and workers' entitlements secure

  • Place limits on the use of casuals, contractors, labour hire and part-time workers. Casuals to be made permanent after a fixed period.
  • That full-time workers have the right to convert to part-time work when they need to because of poor health or returning to work after childbirth.
  • Labour hire workers and casual workers not to receive lower wages and conditions than their permanent co-workers.
  • Legislate a definite proportion of apprentices to tradespeople according to industry/trade.
  • Compel companies to participate in funds that guarantee workers' entitlements.
  • Place workers at the top of the list of creditors in case of company bankruptcy.
  • Restore all workers' rights to civil action in the courts.

For a healthy, safe and secure workplace

  • Put serious penalties into industrial health and safety legislation.
  • Ensure full powers for health and safety representatives to close down unsafe and unhealthy sites.
  • Impose prison sentences on employers responsible for the deaths of workers.
  • Legislate full, unlimited, employer-funded injury, sick and disability pay.

The Socialist Alliance condemns the federal government's attempts to use allegations of criminality in the building and construction industry to launch a full-scale attack on the union movement.

It is now two and a half months since budget night. Remember Treasurer Joe Hockey and Mathias Corman smoking cigars, satisfied and smug after doing a job on Australian workers, pensioners and the poor?

We call for the scrapping of all anti union laws and for a workplace Bill of Rights that guarantees workers and unions the right to organise and protest and gives full recognition of unions and union representatives.

As workers around the world take to the streets to celebrate May Day, we are sharply aware that the capitalist system has reached a point of development where it threatens the habitability of the planet on which we all live.

The demand of tens of thousands of people who marched through the streets in cities around Australia on May 18 was clear. They want the federal government’s killer budget blocked.

The official unemployment rate in Broadmeadows is 23.5% but the real unemployment and underemployment rates are far higher. Youth unemployment is higher than the overall rate. We are very close to the 30% unemployment rate of the Great Depression.

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