'Up Yours Howard' conference firing up

Wednesday, November 17, 1993

Stuart Harrison, Geelong
Young workers are organising to fight back as PM John Howard's new "Work Choices" laws begin to take effect.
A recent report by the government's Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA) showed that all the new Australian

Stuart Harrison, Geelong

Young workers are organising to fight back as PM John Howard's new "Work Choices" laws begin to take effect.

A recent report by the government's Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA) showed that all the new Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs — individual contracts) it surveyed removed at least one protected award condition. The situation is worse for young people, who often don't have the experience or confidence to stand up to employers who are imposing AWAs that remove many conditions. Even the OEA states that less than 6% of the population has the confidence to question their employment conditions when they first get a job.

"Up yours Howard — young workers fight back" is the theme of a conference to be held on June 17, initiated by the socialist youth organisation Resistance and sponsored by Geelong Trades Hall. It will bring together young people from across Victoria to discuss what young workers can do to defend and extend our workplace rights.

Presenters from the New Zealand Unite union and the Gold Coast's United Casual Workers Alliance will talk about practical ways to "organise the unorganised" and report on their industrial and political campaign successes. The recent Unite-organised "Supersize my pay" campaign in New Zealand, in which young workers struck against their super-exploitation in workplaces such as McDonald's, Starbucks, KFC and Pizza Hut, won union recognition and several collective agreements.

Other speakers will include Lisa Darminin, Victorian Trades Hall's campaigns coordinator, and activists from the Young Unionists Network and Resistance, including organisers of the June 1 student strike against Work Choices (see page 3).

The conference is being supported by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU); the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union; the Australian Services Union; the Electrical Trades Union; the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union; and the Maritime Union of Australia, among others.

Justine Kamprad, a Geelong Trades Hall delegate and a conference organiser, told Green Left Weekly: "It is important for young people to know how the new laws will affect them so they can resist and get better rights in their workplaces. We are tired of being ripped off. Howard says he's giving us more choice, but really he's giving bosses more of a chance to rip us off."

A conference organiser and an occupational health and safety representative for the AMWU, added: "Access to unions, collective agreements, protection from unfair dismissal, and basic rights and conditions are becoming things of the past. We must stop these attacks. The conference aims to be only the start of a fight-back by young workers."

The conference will start at 11am on June 17 at Geelong Trades Hall, 127 Myers Street. Everyone is welcome. For more information, phone Justine on 0422 720 216.

From Green Left Weekly, June 7, 2006.

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From GLW issue 670