20 January 2008

Come on Rudd! Where is the action for Australian workers?

Well to date Kevin Rudd and the Australian Labor Party have done very little for the workers of Australia. Despite all their rhetoric they have not changed one aspect of the insidious laws called WorkChoices passed by the Howard Government.

Many people think that Rudd cannot do anything until the Senate changes in July. To a point this is correct, however with WorkChoices much of the laws are contained in regulations. Regulations are changed simply by 'Ministerial decree'.

Julia Gillard is the new Minister for Industrial Relations, plus a number of other portfolios. She could immediately change the regulations so that Prohibited Content in agreements was nothing. At present Prohibited Content includes things such as union right of entry, trade union training, delegates' rights, payrolls deductions for union fees (but not any other kind of deduction, e.g. for charity). Essentially prohibited content was targetted at reducing union involvement in the workplace and ensuring individual AWAs took precedence, even if the employer and employees didn't want this.

Around the trade union movement it is not a terribly big secret that quite a few union officials are annoyed at the lack of action by the Rudd Government. Many would be able to do their jobs a lot better with the simple removal of some or all of the anti-union Prohibited Content.

So come on Rudd and co. Where's the action? Or is the ALP all talk?

One thing is for certain. The Your Rights at Work campaign must not stop, and it should not be so actively supporting an ALP Government. Seeing Greg Combet jump ship mid campaign into a safe ALP seat, despite saying he had no interest in running for parliament was, in this author's opinion, a cynical ploy to get votes. Greg Combet lost a lot respect for this act.

Unions need to be just as vocal in their criticism of ALP shortcomings if they are not going to be seen merely as a cash cow for the ALP.

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