AUSTRALIA’S unions estimate that over half a million people joined rallies across the country on 15 November to protest at the Howard government’s anti-union laws. There were 210,000 in Melbourne, 45,000 people in Sydney, and 25,000 in Brisbane.
By Maria Exall
At this year’s Labour Party Conference (25-29 September) the issue of trade union rights will be centre stage for the first time since 1997. And appropriately so. The situation with the Gate Gourmet workers has written large what is wrong with the Blairite commitment to the “flexible labour market”.
“Solidarity strikes must be made legal,” wrote Tony Woodley in the Guardian on 15 August. His comment came after workers at British Airways had staged a walkout in support of Gate Gourmet catering workers, summarily sacked by bosses who wanted to replace them with cheaper more flexible workers. Woodley was absolutely right.
This year, John Howard plans to bring in anti-union legislation more drastic than former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ever attempted in one instalment, and arguably more drastic than the sum total of the whole long series of laws introduced by Thatcher’s government through the 1980s.
By Bob Carnegie and Martin Thomas
Draft article for Workers' Liberty (Australia) no.38, by Bob Carnegie and Martin Thomas
Reports are still coming in, but today (30 June) there has been a massive show of union strength against the Howard Government's attacks.
By Janet Burstall
John Howard has been the Liberal Prime Minister of Australia since 1996. Last November he won not only his third term as Prime Minister, but also, for the first time, a majority in both houses of the Parliament. From that position of strength his government is preparing to introduce a string of anti-union legislation.
The United Campaign for the Repeal of the Anti-Union laws held a lobby of the House of Commons on 28 February. Representatives from TGWU, RMT and CWU called on Labour to include improvements in trade union rights in the Labour manifesto. They also pledged to keep fighting on the issue of repeal of the anti-union laws after the election.
The High Court has banned industrial action by guards on Midland Mainline, in a case which shows the blatant class bias of Britain's anti-union laws.
Midland Mainline operates multiple-unit trains, which have no connecting door. This effectively divides the train into two halves. Guards and their union, RMT, believe that there should therefore be a guard in each part of the train.
By Janine Booth, Finsbury Park branch RMT chairperson (personal capacity)
The High Court has banned industrial action by train guards on Midland Mainline, in a case which shows the blatant class bias of Britain’s anti-union laws.