The Australian Congress of Trade Union’s (ACTU) has this week concluded its latest Triennial National Congress with a unanimous vote in support of its campaign to overturn the Howard Governments labour laws.
The ACTU is the only national peak body for Trade Unions in Australia. It is comprised of 46 Unions including our own United Firefighters Union (UFU) The ACTU operates somewhere between a giant Trade Union and a resource base for affiliated Unions. It runs national wage cases, trains Trade Union officials and lobbies governments for a wide range of improvements to working people’s lives.
Most recently the ACTU has been campaigning hard to get rid of the Howard Governments extreme labour laws using a three pronged strategy. The first being a major media campaign running television, newspaper and radio advertisements explaining what has been happening to workers wages, conditions and job security under these laws.
The second stage of the strategy is an electoral campaign targeting union members in 22 federal electorates where the number of people voting for the Howard Government is only marginally higher than those voting for the ALP. In this campaign Trade Unions contact members directly and explain why the Howard Government laws allow employers to cut wages and sack people legally.
The third stage of the strategy is to develop a new basic foundation for Australian Labour Law based on the right to stick together and bargain collectively. Whilst this might sound straightforward it is an immensely complex task given it must be politically achievable, protect the interests of all working people and gain the support of the entire democratically elected Australian Trade Union leadership.
This unprecedented task has now been achieved by the ACTU and on Wednesday October 26th 2006 was unanimously voted up by the representatives of the 1.8 million Unionised workers across Australia. The Australian Trade Union movement has now developed a position that draws a clear distinction between the Howard government’s extremism; laws that allow employers to steal wages and conditions from workers, force them onto individual contracts and sack people who do not acquiesce –and a system of law based on collectivism, balance and fairness.
The stage is now set for a Federal election where the difference between the two major political parties has never been clearer on laws that protect our jobs and wages. Firefighters all over the country will be joining rallies on November 30th in boots, tunic’s, and overpants to show the world we’re strong and we’re united.