Sue Bolton, Melbourne
The WorkChoices legislation was rammed through federal parliament just before Christmas and is due to be enacted on March 29.
Many unionists believe that the union movement needs a national stoppage to signal to employers and the government that they will face industrial action if they attempt to use the new anti-union laws.
We need a national stoppage and mass protests soon to give workers — especially in less organised workplaces — the confidence to resist the use of the new laws by their bosses. A motion calling for a national stoppage was unanimously carried at the November 15 workers' rights protest of 25,000 in Geelong.
The November ACTU executive meeting decided not to organise another mass protest until mid-2006 and released an industrial relations campaign strategy that made it clear that it intends to organise only enough activities to keep the ALP up in the opinion polls, not necessarily enough to defeat the legislation.
Unionists around the country have started circulating a petition calling on the ACTU to organise a national stoppage and protests in March, when the new legislation is enacted.
Many unionists recognise that there's no guarantee that a future Labor government will repeal the laws unless the union movement keeps campaigning to defeat the legislation.
The prominent unionists who have endorsed the petition include Martin Kingham (Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union Victorian secretary), Dave Oliver (Australian Manufacturing Workers Union Victorian secretary), Chris Cain (Maritime Union of Australia WA secretary), Joan Doyle (Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union postal and telecommunications branch Victorian secretary), Tim Gooden (Geelong Trades Hall secretary), and John Morgan (General secretary of the Shearers and Rural Workers Union).
The Queensland branch of the Electrical Trades Union has also been distributing the petition, with signatures coming in from Brisbane, Rockhampton, Maryborough, Gin Gin and Charleville.
If you want to sign and/or help distribute the petition, it can be downloaded from <http://www.socialist-alliance.org/page.php?page=507>, or contact Sue Bolton at <firstname.lastname@example.org> or 0413 377 978.
From Green Left Weekly, January 25, 2006.
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