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Friday, May 25, 2007

Geelong Trades Hall votes to defend right to strike by Sue Bolton, Melbourne

Geelong Trades and Labour Council Secretary Tim Gooden at the opening of It's About Time! at the Geelong Performing Arts Centre.

At its May 15 meeting, Geelong Trades Hall Council passed a motion declaring that “GTHC is opposed to any laws that fetter and/or criminalise union activity and workers’ rights under International Labour Organisation conventions to organise and take action to advance or defend our economic and social conditions. To this end we call on the Victorian Trades Hall Council to organise a mass delegates’ meeting to discuss how we can best help the ACTU [Australian Council of Trade Unions] defend its own industrial relations policy and thus the rights of all workers.”

A second motion that was passed noted the council’s concern that “fundamental International Labour Organisation conventions on workers’ rights are under further attack by big business. Therefore, we need to raise the profile of workers’ concerns through large-scale demonstrations to counter the pressure that big business is placing on the government and the opposition. GTHC calls on the ACTU to call a National Day of Action around 28th June.”

Tim Gooden, GTHC’s secretary, told Green Left Weekly that the council is very concerned that the Labor Party is not promising to get rid of the Howard government’s restrictions on the right to strike: “Geelong unionists believe that the right to strike is a basic right of workers, as well as being ACTU policy. Trade unions and labour councils are obligated to defend this basic right, regardless of which party is in government.”

Gooden said that since the ALP national conference, “the big corporations, especially the mining companies, have dominated the public debate about industrial relations. The only way that workers can start to influence the public debate again is if there is another mass protest of workers.”

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