In the dead of the night they came for our rights

25 November 2016

Friends,

Something very wrong happened in Australia this morning. All union supporters need to know about it. A little after 2am the Turnbull government passed the Registered Organisations Bill which is designed to hamper the work of unions. The bill sets up a whole new commission headed by whoever the Liberals appoint that can impose huge fines on volunteers and their unions.

Right now corporate power is out of control in Australia and across the world. Working people can’t get decent pay rises, there is mass exploitation of workers at places like 7-Eleven and inequality is rapidly on the rise. Rather than tackle these issues, the Turnbull government is hell-bent on attacking union members – the very people who can help get wages growing and end exploitation.

The Turnbull government rammed through a registered organisations commission that will not create a single new job.  This new, expensive, body also won’t improve the pay of a single worker.

In fact, it will make it much harder for working people to stand up to corporations and win a fair share for the time and effort we give to our bosses every day. Australians expect our government to be writing the laws that make our country more equal, not tying the hands of the organisations that do the heavy lifting to get there.

The Liberals’ new commission is all about draining the resources union members would rather spend fighting worker exploitation, organising and campaigning for Medicare, schools and a better life for all.

Instead, they want our unions to be subjected to a restrictive regime of regulations and fines that could bankrupt ordinary union volunteers just for downing tools if their workplace is unsafe. This law, and its bunkmate the ABCC is all about the Turnbull government’s drive to attack the living standards of working people on behalf of the big businesses that back them. They want to silence voices for fairness on the job and in the community.

We can’t let the Turnbull Government notch up another attack on working people and pass that toxic ABCC law which will take away the rights of all workers whose jobs touch the construction industry. A second anti-union commission would do nothing to fight corruption, but it will ban EBAs that require minimum numbers of apprentices on site, and any caps on temporary migrant workers in construction. It will open the floodgates to a limitless number of casual labour-hire positions.

Now more than ever is the time to stand up and fight back. Here are 3 things you can do right now:

  1.  Join your union and ask your friends to;
  2.  Like the facebook page so you can help spread the word;
  3.  Contribute however you can to the campaigns for fairness.

In his great rush to diminish the rights of working people, Malcolm Turnbull seems to have forgotten something very important: We are the Australian union movement, we are not going away, and we will never stop being united in fighting for what is right.

Dave Oliver

Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions