Communist Party of Australia


The Guardian

Current Issue

PDF Archive

Web Archive


Press Fund


About Us

Why you should ...

CPA introduction

CPA Policies

CPA statements

Contact Us

facebook, twitter

Major Issues





Climate Change



What's On







Issue #1444      24 February 2010

The time is up: time to go on the offensive

It has been proven that despite the Howard government and the WorkChoices legislation defeat, the election of the ALP Rudd government has not delivered industrial relation policies in the interest of the working class.

The government’s Fair Work Australia has created an environment for workers and unions with some space for collective bargaining but retains the most draconian parts of the WorkChoices legislation that criminalises industrial action, prevents union officials from effective contact with their membership and potential members and kept the legal framework for the subsistence of the Australian Building Construction Commission (ABCC). Safety in the workplace has not improved despite the harmonisation of the health and safety legislation and workers still face fines or imprisonment if they take industrial action over safety.

Recently members of the MUA, CFMEU, AMWU, CEPU and AWU have waged industrial campaigns for better wages and retention of existing conditions. For more than 14 years mining companies employing in the Pilbara, such as Rio Tinto and BHP, have effectively prevented the unionisation of the workplace by making individual non-union agreements a condition of employment but the recent industrial activities which has been worker driven has also been successful in seeing workers joining unions of their choice.

The MUA negotiated collective agreements across the shipping industry while some 2,000 Pilbara workers demonstrated their frustration against the proposed changes to accommodation arrangements being introduced by Woodside to a “motelling” arrangement.

Motelling is an arrangement where a worker must check in and out of their accommodation for every work cycle. Many of these workers spend up to nine months a year under conditions of work cycles varying from four to six week working stints with one week off.

This issue is widely felt among that workforce as their “donga” is like a “home” in a harsh physical environment that sees them isolated from their families. This fight is not about more money and the condition cannot be compensated for by dollars. In other parts of the country others like Telstra workers also rally and picket workplaces for the retention of union collective agreements.

It is time that workers and their unions go on the offensive to demand the draconian legislation recycled from the previous government be repealed. The ABCC and the revision of the awards that saw the wages for lower wage earners decrease must be overturned by workers in their own interest.

It is time to campaign to take industrial action including the right to strike for safety and the social wage. It is time that trade unions consider standing their own trade union, community and progressive candidates at the next federal election. IR will again play a central role in the upcoming elections and the ALP cannot be relied upon to represent workers’ interests and deliver fair conditions.

It is time for workers to join their unions and for unions to organise the political struggle in the workplace. It is time to dismantle the wage system. All members of the Communist Party of Australia must become active participants in the organisation of their workplaces.

Next article –  Film review – Precious

Back to index page

Go to What's On Go to Shop at CPA Go to Australian Marxist Review Go to Join the CPA Go to Subscribe to the Guardian Go to the CPA Maritime Branch website Go to the Resources section of our web site Go to the PDF of the Hot Earth booklet go to the World Federation of Trade Unions web site go to the Solidnet  web site Go to Find out more about the CPA