The Guardian July 14, 1999


CAMPAIGN BEGINS F0R UNION RIGHTS

by Anna Pha

On Thursday July 8, CFMEU Mining and Energy Division union delegates from 
the Hunter Valley, Oakdale, Gordonstone and the Illawarra travelled to 
Sydney to join a protest rally against the Howard Government's second 
installment of union busting legislation  the "second wave". This second 
wave legislation consists of a group of Bills to further strip back awards, 
reduce wages and conditions, permit unfair dismissals, take away basic 
trade union rights, and make it easy for employers to force workers onto 
individual contracts.

They were joined in the rally by building workers, retired mineworkers, 
students and others who had walked off the job to take part. The Mining 
delegates represent mineworkers who remain under attack from the 
Government's first wave legislation. (See story page 4).

"Today is one of the first shots in a campaign over the next six weeks that 
the labour movement is going to run up and down the country to try and 
block Reith's second wave legislation", John Sutton, National Secretary of 
the Construction and General Division of the CFMEU told Thursday's rally 
outside the union's offices in Sydney.

Protesters wore yellow stickers carrying the number 23.4  a reminder of 
Article 23.4 of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights 
which Reith's laws violate.

Article 23.4 states:

"Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection 
of his/her interests."

Individual contracts

In Melbourne at the same time as the Sydney action more than 700 workplace 
delegates were meeting.

The Melbourne meeting, called by the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC), 
discussed Reith's second wave of legislation which the VTHC has dubbed the 
"Individual Contract" legislation.

VTHC Secretary Leigh Hubbard told the meeting that Reith's legislation 
heralded cuts to wages, the end of permanent employment and the removal of 
the award safety net for many thousands of workers.

The meeting endorsed the holding of a state-wide stop-work and rally on 
August 12 and issued a warning to the Australian Democrats that doing a 
deal with the Government to pass the regressive legislation would lead to a 
strong union campaign against them in the next elections.

After the meeting the delegates took their protest out into the streets and 
marched on Liberal Party headquarters.

Meanwhile in Sydney the protesters marched to the Australian Industrial 
Relations Commission to demonstrate against the Commission's failure to 
deliver justice to sacked Gordonstone miners.

On July 5 the ACTU convened a meeting of Federal unions which unanimously 
endorsed a campaign strategy involving a series of protests in every State 
and Territory leading up to the legislation being put to Parliament.

In addition to the planned rally in Victoria, there will be major rallies 
in Western Australia (August 10); South Australia (August 11); Queensland 
(August 18); NSW (August 24); Tasmania (August 25); Canberra (August 26); 
Northern Territory (August 26).

The legislation is expected to enter the Senate in the Spring Session which 
begins on August 9.

The ACTU is calling on union members and concerned members of the community 
to attend the rallies. Leaflets and other material are being prepared for 
wide distribution.

Legislation can be defeated

The second wave legislation can be defeated with an all out campaign. The 
Democrats, who now hold the balance of power in their own right in the 
Senate, have said that they would reject the legislation unless it is 
substantially amended.

They are calling for a "wide ranging" Senate Inquiry into the effectiveness 
of the 1996 Workplace Relations law.

It is important to let the Democrats know how much harm this legislation 
would do to workers and their families if it is passed.

This legislation cannot be fixed up by tinkering with the edges as the 
Democrats tried to do with the first wave legislation. It must be rejected 
in its totality. Write now to the Democrats.

Democrat industrial relations spokesman Andrew Murray
fax: (02) 6277 3767 email: senator.murray@aph.gov.au

Democrat leader Meg Lees
fax: (02) 6277 3996
email: senator.lees@aph.gov.au

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