Tim Gooden

The Australian Council of Trade Unions' new Change the Rules campaign is well underway.

In conjunction with a professional advertising and social media strategy, the campaign was launched on April 7, building up to the 12 Days of Action in early May around the May Day rallies. Thousands of people attended these rallies across the country, culminating in 120,000 workers marching in Melbourne on May 9.

It is a basic right of working people to organise collectively through our unions

We own our own labour and should have the right to control our labour by organising collectively through our unions. Workers and our unions should not be prosecuted or penalised for organising our labour.

Our current industrial laws are anti worker, anti union and simply unjust and make it harder for workers to organise to defend our wages, conditions and living standards. 

Workers gathered at Geelong Trades Hall on November 24 to raise funds for Esso maintenance workers in Longford, Victoria, who have been locked out for 170 days. Barbecues sizzled, drinks flowed and Scabby the Rat was inflated, while workers were entertained by the classic rock band, Rock n Roll Exchange.

Esso’s maintenance contractor UGL, which operates maintenance on the gas rigs in Bass Strait, ended the previous employment agreement and offered workers a new agreement with 40% less pay, worse conditions and extended rosters on the platform with no guaranteed shore breaks.

Today, there are 55 workers still camping outside Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) in Melbourne, 16 weeks after they were sacked when their employer lost the maintenance contract for the brewery.

Most of these workers were directly employed by CUB until their jobs were outsourced in 2009. There was a hard fought campaign to keep the positions permanent but, in the end, the workers were forced to settle for contracts with no loss of income or conditions. Supposedly it was a “win/win”.

Allegations made by south Indian Tamil fisherfolk against the recently deposed Mahinda Rajapaksa government in Sri Lanka reveal a trail of death and corruption.

They said 750 fisherfolk have been killed by the Sri Lankan navy since 1983. Eighty-four boats were seized in the past six months alone.

The government is ducking and weaving in the face of combined resistance to its cruel budget.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz admitted to a Senate Estimates hearing on June 26 that the Productivity Commission's review of the Fair Work Act will now be delayed until the second half of this year.

The media say this is to allow the government to devote its energies into getting its budget measures through, and to avoid an all-out campaign by unions to "revive the spectre of Work Choices".

Well, here we are at the halfway mark. It’s been about eight weeks since Alcoa announced it was shutting up shop in Geelong and there’s a little over eight weeks before workers are tossed out the gate for good.

But where are the announcements from the state and federal governments or Alcoa about how they will address the economic black hole and job losses in Geelong?

Nobody told me Game of Thrones was starting early this year.

Wonderful to hear King Abbott pronounce the return of titles, especially after Sir Joseph of the Coffers recently declared the end of entitlement. I guess he was only referring to us common folk.

But we don’t have to worry too much because peasants and workers don’t receive knighthoods. Can you imagine Sir Timothy Francis Gerald Gooden the sixth? No, I thought not.

Titles are designed to put one person higher than another, reinforcing the notion that somehow some people are better than others.

Another International Women’s Day passes. It’s been 157 years since working women first took to the streets. Back then, thousands of women textile workers marched through the wealthy boroughs of New York, protesting their miserable working conditions.

Well it's my first day back at work and already the year has started with the predictable attack on workers that usually accompanies conservative governments in their first term of office.

They always claim that unions are corrupt and should have special laws to prevent them from being involved in workplaces or politics.

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