This May Day, we are facing off against a militant conservative government which holds Australians and Australia in deep contempt.
And we are facing off against a militant conservative Prime Minister, which holds Australians and Australia in a deep and lasting contempt.
If we needed any further proof, it came in this week’s Commission of Audit, which represents — and let’s not mince words — the most comprehensive and savage attack on Australian workers, their living standards, their health care, their services, and the wages ever dared by a conservative government.
The contempt this government has for working Australians, springs from the Prime Minister’s own deep belief in his own superiority and the superiority of those like him.
Last time the Coalition launched a massive attack on working people’s rights, the union movement ran a three-year Your Rights at Work campaign to defeat these laws. This campaign was less than a decade ago, so it is still fresh in the collective memory of our movement. Hundreds of thousands union members participated in this campaign. We remember what it took to win. The current generation of union leaders know what it took to win. The memory of this campaign also helps overcome cynicism and defeatism which can hold back campaigns, especially at the beginning. Union activists believe it is possible to change a government because we have done it before.
Tony Abbott and his new Coalition government have long planned a Royal Commission into the union movement.
This, of course, was not a policy that the Coalition took to the 2013 election.
Such a naked attack would have ‘scared the horses’, exposing what the Coalition has been desperate to hide—its plan to reinstate WorkChoices.
Instead, the LNP took to the election plans for a single judicial inquiry into allegations, now decades-old, about a ‘slush’ fund once run by officials from the Victorian branch of the Australian Workers Union. The Murdoch press hounded Prime Minister Gillard about her involvement long after the public lost interest in this issue and even after nothing substantive eventuated. Of course, this judicial inquiry was always intended as a stalking horse for a later and much wider inquiry. Continue reading Tony Abbott’s Royal Commission: It’s all about WorkChoices→
All Australians should be deeply worried about the re-emergence of the Medicare co-payment idea for GP services. As Doctors Reform Society President, Con Costa, told TheSydney Morning Heraldrecently: ‘It is the beginning of the end for Medicare”. There are reasons to believe him.
Threats have been looming for some time, and one in particular deserves mention before going on.
Few people noticed one of the final recommendations of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission established by the Rudd Government, and which reported in 2009. It proposed the idea of Medicare Select, which would mean breaking up Medicare into multiple insurance plans so that providers would (eventually) compete for customers over services and choice. People working in policy and politics know exactly what this proposal means in the long term. It follows a formula to set up “quasi markets” (markets for government services) with an unstated end goal: the privatisation of the government service (in this case, Medicare). More on this later.
This is a guest post from Tom McDonald who is now in his 80s. Tom was the former Building Workers Industrial Union (BWIU) National Secretary and one of the key figures who helped amalgamate several unions into the CFMEU. He was an influential union leader from 1970-90s. For the last 20 years Tom has generously shared his wisdom with new generations of unionists in the ACTU’s Organising Works traineeship for union organisers.
We not I
Back in the early 1950s soon after I became a union official an old timer gave me some good advice. He said,
“Son, if you want to be a good union leader, always remember that the Trade Union Movement is a “we” not “I” movement. This is because “We” includes “I” whereas “I” does not include “We””
The old timer is supported by history which shows that higher wages for all Australian workers and every major condition of employment, as well as rights at work were won through the power of collective action “We” and not by individual “I” action.
Collective union-led action won for all employees such things as a shorter working week, four weeks annual leave, full pay when off work on compensation, higher real wages, equal pay for work of equal value, paid sick leave, redundancy pay, universal super, RDOs, paternity leave as well as a lot of other important conditions that are contained in awards.
Tony Abbott’s Government has a plan to bring back WorkChoices.
But this time the Coalition has learned the lessons from the last times they had a go. There have been two previous failures – 1993 with Fightback and 2005-7 with WorkChoices.
It’s a twin strategy: undermine the reputation of the union movement in the eyes of the public at the same time making their day-to-day operations as difficult as possible. While they do this, the Coalition will run a series of inquiries and reviews to lay the groundwork for WorkChoices v2.
This plan has been cooked up with corporate Australia, the likes of the Business Council of Australia, whose job it will be to do the running on the PR side of the campaign, with the willing assistance of the Murdoch press.
77. Directs that people already found to be refugees who arrived by boat be given the lowest priority for family reunion – 8 January 2014
76. Fails to contradict or take any action against a member of his government, Senator Cory Bernardi, who makes divisive statements about: abortion, “non-traditional” families and their children, same sex couples, couples who use IVF and calls for parts of WorkChoices to be reintroduced – 6 January 2014
75. Devastates Australia’s contribution to overseas aid by cutting $4.5 billion from the budget, causing vital programs supporting those in extreme poverty in our region to collapse – 1 January 2014
74. Drastically reduces tax breaks for small business and fails to publicise it – 1 January 2014