ACTU

The time has come to scrap the misnamed Fair Work Act (FWA) and introduce genuine pro-worker and pro-union industrial relations legislation in this country.

Rising pressure on federal employment minister Michaelia Cash to resign over her cover-up of the illegal actions by former Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) head Nigel Hadgkiss merely underlines the fact that Australia’s industrial relations system is badly broken.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions launched its national “Change the Rules” campaign in Perth on September 21. The campaign seeks to push for pro-worker changes to the Fair Work Act.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus said: “We need to change the rules at work so working people can’t be held to ransom by bad employers who will use loopholes to cancel agreements, cut pay and slash conditions.”

The historical and current injustices following the establishment of industry superannuation and the subsequent undermining of this important social policy initiative needs to be scrutinised.

Today’s crisis of the established political parties and the rise of far-right political projects are linked to the long-running capitalist crisis in which neoliberalism is immiserating the working class and small producers.

The recent Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision to cut penalty rates for weekends and public holidays will deliver a windfall to big retail and hospitality bosses, while slashing the wages of about 700,000 low-paid workers.

Figures released by the ACTU put the average worker in accommodation and food services on only $524 a week and those in retail on just $687. Contrast this with the average pay of $1163 for all Australian workers and you can see just how draconian FWC’s decision is.

Dave Oliver announced his resignation as secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions on January 31 after five years in the post. Vice-president Sally McManus is likely to take the role.

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”.

Fifty years ago this week, 200 Aboriginal stockmen and domestic servants walked off the job at Lord Vestey's Wave Hill cattle station, 600 kilometres south of Darwin. Most of them were members of the Gurindji people, with small numbers of Walpiri and other indigenous people. They were to stay out on strike for ten years.

Australia's peak trade union body, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), has finally adopted a position of supporting marriage equality. The decision follows a recent move by one of its largest affiliates, the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association, to drop its militant opposition to marriage equality.

Sometimes there are things that appear in the media that just make you shake your head in disbelief. Take for example the tale of Duncan Storrar, the man on ABC's Q&A who dared to ask why the budget was looking after higher income earners while ignoring those on the lower end of the scale.

For his trouble, Storrar was mercilessly attacked by sections of the media for everything from his tax record to his criminal history — all because he publicly dared to question the economic orthodoxy of the federal budget.

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