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News :: Labor
Mass rallies rock Australia
20 Nov 2005
On November 15 over 550,000 workers and their allies in Australia took part in reportedly the largest ever workers' protest in the nation's history according to the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).
australia.jpg
Mass rallies rock Australia

By Bryan G. Pfeifer

On November 15 over 550,000 workers and their allies in Australia took part in reportedly the largest ever workers' protest in the nation's history according to the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). In Melbourne over 210,000 workers flooded the streets in the largest protest and in Sydney truckers blocked a major motorway. Nationwide over 200 gatherings took place in dozens of cities' streets, hundreds of workplaces and other venues (www.actu.asn.au).

The workers and their allies came out to protest new industrial relations legislation being pushed through parliament with a minimum of debate by Prime Minister John Howard Howard is under pressure by leading capitalists from Australia, Britain, the U.S. and other imperialist powers. The legislation would remove protection from unfair dismissal, undermine minimum wage setting and make a wide range of legitimate trade union activities illegal. Union workers would face severe fines for asking bosses to agree to protect workers from unfair dismissal, or to include provisions such as trade union training leave in contract agreements.

Other provisions in the legislation would remove the right to public holidays for many workers and weaken provisions for annual leave; reduce protections for workers who refuse unsafe or unhealthy work, remove protection from unfair dismissal for all workplace employing less than 100 workers; forcing workers onto individual employment contracts, reduce the rights of trade union members to talk with workers in the workplace; and gives the government to right to stop industrial work actions such as strikes if it decides the action is “detrimental to the economy.”

In a live broadcast to rallies across Australia, Sharan Burrow, ACTU president said the November 15 actions are just the beginning of a campaign to defeat this legislation. “Every union leader in Australia is ready to fight like we have never fought before,” (www.thestandard.com.hk)

The AFL-CIO held a solidarity protest at the Australian Embassy in Washington D.C. where John Sweeny said the legislation would “dramatically reduce the rights of workers, and provide employers with virtually total power to decide terms and conditions of employment.” A letter of support for Australian workers from the AFL-CIO was delivered to Australian Ambassador Dennis Richardson. Similar actions by national and international union federations took place internationally (www.aflcio.org).

-- 30 --

Union labor donated
See also:
http://www.actu.asn.au
http://www.aflcio.org

This work is in the public domain
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