"Tear up Work Choices! Defend all our rights at work" is the title of a new petition being circulated by trade union activists around Australia. The petition calls on the ACTU and state, territory and regional labour councils to immediately call a national day of protest to demand the full repeal of Work Choices and the Workplace Relations Act. It also calls for workers' right to take industrial action to be enshrined in Australian law.
NSW Public Service Association delegate Beatriz Bassi told Green Left Weekly that the petition was an initiative of rank-and-file unionists, delegates and officials, and progressive community members, who have been active throughout the Your Rights at Work campaign. "All of us have been inspired through the ACTU-organised mass mobilisations against Work Choices. Those days of action instilled in us a sense that we have strength in numbers."
The petition expresses the desire of a large section of workers who want more industrial action and mass mobilisation to defeat Howard and Work Choices, Bassi said. "Such action will also hold Labor accountable for its earlier promise to rip up Work Choices."
"The ALP's new IR policy, 'Forward with Fairness', is a watered-down version of Work Choices", Bassi explained. "Workers' democratic right to strike is not guaranteed and neither are full unfair dismissal laws reinstated. Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd still won't say what they intend to do with Australian Workplace Agreements, and they've promised the bosses that they can keep the anti-union Australian Building and Construction Commission for a few more years."
"Unless trade unions can act independently from the short-term political interests of the major parties", Bassi said, "our interests will not be represented".
Socialist Alliance is supporting the petition, which can be downloaded from the Sydney blog via < http://www.socialist-A HREF="mailto:alliance.org"><alliance.org>.