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Friday, April 20, 2007

Reject Work Choices! Reject Rudd’s Watered Down Work Choices! Motion Passed by Victorian AMWU Northern District Quarterly Delegates Meeting

After Kevin Rudd was elected as Labor leader, he promised that a Rudd
government would maintain the commitment to “rip up Work Choices”. On the
strength of this commitment, the trade union movement threw its effort into
the campaign to elect a Labor government.

This meeting of the AMWU northern district is shocked that Kevin Rudd
announced to the National Press Club that a Rudd government would keep most
of Howard’s Work Choices legislation, in particular the attack on the right
to strike.

This meeting believes that the right of workers to strike is a fundamental
human right. It is not fair or just that workers are only allowed to strike
during the bargaining period for a new enterprise bargaining agreement.

Rudd’s announcement means that regardless of whether a Rudd or Howard
government is elected, it will be illegal for workers to take industrial
action in response to unfair employer practices such as victimisation of
union activists, restructuring of the workplace or unsafe work practices.

Even protected industrial action would not be automatic under Rudd. Workers
could be forced to wait weeks for the electoral commission to conduct a
secret ballot, giving an employer plenty of time stockpile goods or contract
out work. Employers can also block union applications for secret ballots,
preventing workers from even voting for industrial action during bargaining.

Rudd made no mention of any penalties for employers who lock out workers or
sack workers and replace them with cheaper workers.

Even the restoration of unfair dismissal rights is very limited. The
proposed 12 month probation period is too long. Job security for workers is
a fundamental human right.

This meeting rejects calls on the AMWU delegation to the ALP national
conference to vote against the industrial relations policy that Rudd
announced to the National Press Club.

This meeting calls on the Labor Party to honour the commitment to “rip up
Work Choices” and restore the workers’ rights which have been stripped away
under Work Choices and the Workplace Relations Act.

This meeting calls on the Labor Party to enshrine the right to strike in its
industrial relations policy.

This meeting also calls on the Labor Party to repeal the Welfare to Work
laws. These laws are already being used to undermine union agreements by
forcing unemployed workers to sign AWAs which give away all their rights or
lose unemployment benefits for 8 weeks. This is what happened in the
Coles-Myer dispute in the northern suburbs.

This meeting calls on the AMWU to urgently seek support for a mobilisation
of all unions for the full repeal of Howard’s anti-worker laws and the full
restoration of workers’ rights.

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