Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Industrial Relations rally 

Pic by Jo Gillespie, image hosted by Photobucket.comThis morning I attended (along with somewhere between 170,000 and 210,000 other people) the Industrial Relations Rally in Melbourne, protesting against the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) legislation. I consider this the most important and far-reaching change this Liberal government has yet made in Australia (and I include its pro-war & immigrant detention policies, terrorism and sedition laws, and Goods and Services Tax in this).

Many people seem to have forgotten that every working right we have was fought for, largely by Union action, over the past 150 years in Australia, and long before that in Britain - including the 8 hour day, meal-breaks, shift penalties and all forms of leave. We stand to lose it all. The Howard government appears ideologically committed to stripping liveable wages and reasonable hours from workers. The effective outlawing of Unions will disarm any resistance and the removal of unfair dismissal provisions for any company with less than 100 employees (easy enough for most companies to arrange) will make instant sacking possible for... no reason at all.

Part of the plan was revealed with the forcing of pensioners back into the workforce (enforcing minimum rates by forcing those with least choice to accept them). When the Liberals talk about creating more full-time work - to replace part-time and casual - they quite likely mean the same pay for much longer hours! The real damage will take time to show, but Howard's agenda will change Australian society permanently and adversely, changing work culture and eroding family life, while insuring the privilege of the wealthy at the cost of the poorest in our society.

(Thanks to Jo Gillespie for the above picture)

i could have gone there, too if i was there.
Thanks, Isay! There was a pretty subdued feeling to the gathering overall, as I think people are pretty shocked by all this. What was really nice was how many familiar faces I met up with there - people from various past workplaces (as well as my current one), and all kinds of people in general, which was heartening.
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