More than 1000 unionists hooked into an online federal election mass meeting called by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) on April 21. Billed as a meeting to outline the union movement’s election campaign plan, it departed from previous election campaigns by urging unionists to vote for either Labor or the Greens.
Michele O’Neill, ACTU President, began by outlining the failures of Scott Morrison’s Coalition government and the stressed the need for change. As she was speaking, there was a great deal of “chatter” in the chat room. Many said they wanted to know what Labor was going to do about punitive industrial relations laws, including the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
Others wanted to know more about Labor’s policies on wage rises for low-paid workers, in particular workers in the aged care sector and welfare payments. Some wanted to know if Labor would restate workers rights and conditions. A number of unionists said the Greens had better policies on industrial relations and wages than Labor.
Sally McManus, ACTU Secretary, then talked up how unionists could ensure Morrison was booted out. She said that while most people have already decided who they were going to vote for, 15% of eligible voters had not. She said this was the cohort workers would need to persuade to use their vote to remove the Coalition. Finally, McManus urged people to vote for either Labor or the Greens “both of whom have good policies for workers”.
She said the Coalition should be put last.
[Zita Henderson is a member of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch).]