WA week of union action


By Anthony Benbow PERTH — The WA union movement's campaign against the Liberal government's anti-union laws moved up another notch on October 15 with the launch of a "week of discontent". The week will involve union action both here and interstate. Since gaining office, the Court government has closed down, restructured or privatised many public services, and made health and safety standards more difficult to maintain. Jobs have been lost and conditions eroded for many workers. The industrial relations "reform" legislation introduced by Liberal minister Graham Kierath has been called the "second wave" of attacks. This second wave of laws is aimed at removing the right of workers to take united, collective action in defence of their wages and conditions. The new laws abolish the right of unions to enter workplaces, allow closed shops only in consultation with the employer and force unions to conduct a secret ballot of all members before going on strike or donating money. Unionists are in no doubt that this attack on the democratic rights of workers will pave the way for more severe government cutbacks. This approach has also been used by other state governments which is why unions outside WA are joining in the week of action. The week kicks off with a Fair Go Fair in Northbridge on October 15 which is designed to inform the wider community about the effects of the new legislation. Young unionists have organised a "sleep-out" at Parliament House on October 18 and several major unions are planning rolling strikes and stoppages. However, the main action will take place on October 17. All unions have urged their members to stop work for 24 hours. The call has been supported by members of public service unions, many of which will be fighting for their jobs under the government's privatisation program. The ACTU, in conjunction with the WA TLC, is organising several major unions in other states to "blockade" WA by shutting down the wharves, airports, transport and communications.

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