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Australian Workers Under Attack Led by Conservative Governments and Right-Wing Press, Unions The Only Form Of Protection

RN1EditorialWorkers in Australia, and around the world, are under attack form the conservative right wing elements of society. This is evident on the international stage when we look at such newspapers and websites like the “Daily Mail” which has a whole section called “right minds” which is dedicated to attacking trade unions, workers, and the left – in short anyone who has a social conscience.

Everything a worker has stood for and fought for is being slowly and deliberately eroded. A major example of this is in the state of Queensland where the state government led by the conservative  Premier Campbell Newman and The Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie have systematically removed legally negotiated conditions, sacked 10,000’s of staff and have made government employees fearful of speaking out. It is now getting to the point where the word worker is considered a dirty word.

The first thing that has been eliminated from the worker is their identity. The right wing press and  conservative lead governments have deliberately changed their identity. They are no longer workers, those working to own a wage and to pay taxes, they are tax payers – consumers.

Photo: Carlos Chavez

Photo: Carlos Chavez

Even though this is correct, they are tax payers and they are consumers, the very fact that work is not mentioned and that they are wage earners is neglected is a deliberate ploy to distract them from what they are – a worker. Work brings and gives dignity to an individual, they are robbing individuals of their dignity.

The money that is paid in taxes goes to the government, it becomes the government’s money. It stops being the money of the person who has paid those taxes. The tax payer is powerless, they do not decide where their money goes and what it is spent on, they don’t even decide if they can pay taxes or not or even how much they pay.

If anything there is a social contract between the tax payer and the government about what the money is spent on -social services and social utilities for the community, such as education, health, roads, welfare and defence. An example of this is the Medicare levy that is used to fund universal health care – which is now under attack.

The first and fundamental thing is, to be a taxpayer you need to be a worker. You need to be earning a wage to pay taxes. You can’t be a tax payer without earning a wage.

Once the worker is completely divorced from the reality of their identity, a worker who earns a wage to pay taxes, it is easy to move on to the next target –  work place conditions and workers rights.

The Conservative Liberal-National Coalition Government has  workplace conditions in their cross hairs. It is fundamentally important that a worker joins their Union for their protection and to defend their rights. This is the only media outlet and news service that will actively promote union membership. Being a union member means that you protect your workplace condition and rights, and your colleagues as well.

The Liberal-National Coalition Government has complete distain for Unions. What they really have in fact is a complete distain for workers. They resent the achievements and major accomplishments of Unions and its members because it shows their lack of consideration and achievements for social civil society and for workers.

When we look at some of the accomplishments of Unions and their members in the past we can see great things that have helped achieve a work/life balance for the collective and the individual:

Photo: Svilen Milev

Photo: Svilen Milev

  1. The greatest achievements for workers by means of their Union was the minimum wage, a living wage. To bring the working class out of poverty.
  2. Last week marked the 68th anniversary of the introduction of two weeks Annual Leave. Annual Paid Leave in Australia began in 1935 when the Printers Union won 1 week paid leave. 1974 saw this increased to 4 weeks.
  3. A fundamentally important win  for workers by means of their Unions was the introduction of Superannuation – a safe guard for retirement.
  4. Unions and their members were able to introduce child labour laws so that children can have a childhood and get an education
  5. Decent work hours along with pay increases were ways that members and their Unions were able to balance work and life and to keep up with the cost of living
  6. Sick leave, weekends and safer working conditions were all Union and their members achievements.

It is these 6 major items, there are many more, that are under attack by the Conservative Liberal-National Government who wish to get rid of these.

With the minim wage there is a push from within their right wing think tanks to get rid of the minimum wage. Gina Reinhart ,a major source of funding for the conservatives, said workers should really work for $2 a day. It has been suggested that the minimum wage should be cut in half.

Major Corporations wish to abolish annual leave or at least curtail it. Along with Annual Leave,  Superannuation has taken a major hit by Tony Abbott.  Due to the cuts in superannuation lower income earners will lose $775.50 per year.

The greatest threat to workers and their conditions is the casualisation of the workforce creating vicarious employment.  Under the Industrial Relations Act a lot of what is legislated for those not under a collective agreement or enterprise bargaining agreements only apply to those in a  full time position – not casual staff.

With this constant attack on workers and their workplace conditions it is only through their Union and being part of their Union will workers and voters be able to stand up to the Liberal-National Coalition Government.

There are plenty of examples where it can be seen what happens when Unions lose their power and the workers no longer have the protection and strength they need. Just look at the United Kingdom during Thatcher’s era.

While it is becoming popular to bash Unions and to draw attention on a large scale to the very few bad eggs in the Union movement, it should never be forgotten that without Unions people today would not be enjoying the conditions that they have, such as superannuation, safe working conditions, the ability to negotiate, child labour laws, anti discrimination laws, weekends, public holidays, school leave, a public health system in some countries and the list goes on.

-The Editor

United Workers Stand And Succeed, Divided Workers Fall And Fail

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