By Shane Bentley
SYDNEY — Around 300 people attended a rally in opposition to award stripping in the Trades Hall auditorium on July 1. The rally heard speeches from Labor's industrial relations spokesperson Bob McMullen, ACTU president Jennie George and Mick Costa in his debut as NSW Labor Council secretary.
The rally had more to do with electing Labor at the next federal election than with launching a fight back against award stripping.
Costa told the audience that "no matter how bad we think our side of government [the Labor Party] is, when it counts — they deliver". He described the rally as "the start of the Labor Council's campaign to elect a federal Beazley Labor government and re-elect a state Carr Labor government".
McMullen launched the ALP's industrial relations "10-point rescue plan". McMullen made no mention of repealing the Workplace Relations Act. He promised to replace sections 45D and E of the Trade Practices Act with "provisions which give the IRC a chance to resolve disputes".
Beside the 150 Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union members who walked off the job to attend the rally, the crowd was mainly union officials and organisers. A member of the CFMEU who asked not to be identified told Green Left Weekly: "Anyone who turned up today to hear about a fight back against Howard's award stripping would be very disappointed. All we heard from this lot is the usual 'just re-elect the Labor Party and everything will be OK'."
"McMullen didn't even promise to remove the Workplace Relations Act ... why should we trust this lot to reverse Reith and Howard's attacks?"