The entire Australian trade union movement is currently focussed on campaigning against the Howard Government’s ‘WorkChoices’ laws and the inevitability that if a Howard Government is returned firefighters in NSW will be railroaded into the ‘WorkChoices’ regime. November 22nd is the day the ACTU has called on us to stand up against the most extreme union busting laws this country has ever seen and put as many firies in uniform as possible on the streets to protest. Given the success of the ACTU campaign so far the upcoming federal election will in effect be a referendum on the ‘WorkChoices’ legislation.
Firefighters across the country in all major state capitals will be protesting in full turnout gear to send a message to all political parties that we will not accept laws that take away rights we fought for and have held for a century. Ordinary working people are currently being hammered with rising interest rates, record fuel prices, shrinking real wages and a massive shifting of costs onto consumers – while the stock exchange is booming with unprecedented profits. The ‘WorkChoices’ legislation has now clearly increased the power employers have over workers. It has effectively changed the rules under which trade unions operate by limiting and restricting what workers can do while at the same time beefing up the powers employers have in industrial disputes.
Firies in NSW have been shielded from ‘WorkChoices’ until now. A return of the current Government would see firefighters and other state public servants dragged into the unfair playing field of extreme anti union laws. Over the next three weeks union delegates will be visiting as many stations as possible and distributing material to all stations, explaining our position. The union has managed to secure a decommissioned fire engine, which is decked out in “Your Rights at Work” signage, union flags and banners. This appliance is attracting enormous amounts of media coverage and has been really effective in letting the public know that firefighters don’t support ‘WorkChoices’.
The FBEU is trying to get as many members as possible to North Sydney Oval at 11am on Thursday the 22nd for a rally outside the office of Minister for ‘WorkChoices’ Joe Hockey followed by light refreshments and the chance to catch up with old mates and comrades immediately after. In order to maximize the numbers the union will be providing buses to and from the event and a souvenir t-shirts for those able to make it on the day. The union office needs numbers so that we can book buses – so if you care about our job and can make it on the day, round up some mates let us and know by calling the union office on 02 9218 3444.