Anti-union laws

Challenging Australia's anti-union laws

By Colin Foster

"Employees engaged on the Portside Wharf Development construction
site at Hamilton [Brisbane] attended a stop work meeting. The meeting
commenced at about 6.30am and concluded at about 7.00am...

"This meeting took place during working hours and may amount to
Unlawful Industrial Action contrary to the provisions of the Building
And Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005... Individual
workers... fines up to $22,000. Corporations [employers and
unions]... fines up to $110,000.

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Union Rights Make It To Labour Conference Floor

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”.

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Waterfront showdown

Melbourne’s Webb Dock has become the site where labour’s right to organise in the 1990s is being fought out. After nearly two years of preparation, Australia’s right-wing Coalition government has found employer allies prepared to take on one of the country’s best-organised and most militant unions, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).

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White paper on union law: All the rights for the bosses

This is a defining moment for the New Labour administration and their relations with the trade union movement. The government has published a long-awaited White Paper — misleadingly entitled Fairness at Work —which details its employment law proposals At the same time the Low Pay Commission has made its contribution to low pay by recommending the minimum wage be set at just £3.60 an hour or £144 a week.

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Australia plans anti-union laws

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 Government’s plans include:

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Lobby to repeal anti-union laws

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.

Barry Camfield from the TGWU called for pan-union support to put this issue higher up the political agenda, including using political fund money for this task.

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Midland Mainline strike banned

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.

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Anti-union laws used at London Met

A planned strike at London Metropolitan University was stopped late in September after a High Court injunction was placed on the lecturers’ union NATFHE.

The union is fighting the imposition of new contracts. Later this month members will discuss whether to hold a new ballot on industrial action.

The university management got the injunction they wanted by using the detail of the anti-union laws — they argued that the union had not fulfilled a number of technical requirements, such as specifying which site members worked at.

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The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

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Law blocks BT strike

By a BT engineer

The strike by engineers in BT's Customer Service division (approximately 15,000 external and control staff) due to start on Monday 14 April was called off after the employers won an injunction under the anti-union laws.

At the time of writing it is unclear exactly how the employers managed to obtain the injunction. Claims from the employers' side that they were not properly notified by the union of who was to strike have caused amusement among the workers involved as everyone has received e-mails warning them not to strike!

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