Excerpt from an interview with Julia Gillard on Radio National's PM program on
Friday, April 27. The full transcript is at
CHRIS UHLMANN (ABC): Looking at the complaints that I hear coming from your own side today, and one of them is about the right to strike, which many unions would see as a human right and something which a government can't take away.
Under the laws that you propose, would a unionist be allowed to go a 'Your Rights At Work' campaign, to take a day off work to go and attend a rally?
JULIA GILLARD (ALP Industrial Relations Shadow Minister): No, that wouldn't be protected industrial action. We would say that the only form of protected industrial action is when bargaining in a bargaining period for a new collective agreement.
CHRIS UHLMANN: So there could be no 'Your Rights At Work' campaign, where people leave their jobs to go to that campaign, anymore under a Labor government?
JULIA GILLARD: Well, we'd be in the happy situation where people would know that they would have a fair industrial relations system, so they …
CHRIS UHLMANN: What if they have another beef with you?
JULIA GILLARD: … they wouldn't have to mass in the streets in order to get a system that treats Australian working families fairly. It's been Mr Howard that they've had to mass in the streets to deal with his unfairness.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Isn't that just a little hypocritical, though? The Labor Party supported that move into the streets by the union movement, which is supporting a Labor Party campaign, really, to win government, and now you're not going to allow them to do that in future?
JULIA GILLARD: Look, we've got to set some clear rules about what is protected and what is not protected. We have said that you can take protected industrial action, only in the circumstance where you are bargaining for a new agreement.
If people have the need to demonstrate against a government, and from time to time they do, and under Mr Howard's Government they've had to, then of course people can make arrangements to take leave, all of those sorts of things, to get to the rally.
CHRIS UHLMANN: So, though, in principle, if a worker leaves their job between now and the election campaign to campaign against the Government on the 'Your Rights At Work' campaign, which is being run at the moment, you are opposed to that; will you and Kevin Rudd come out and say this is not the kind of action that we want to see?
JULIA GILLARD: I can understand why people are protesting against John Howard's laws. He stripped fairness out of our workplaces and hurt Australian working families.
What you're asking me about is the system going forward, and we don't want to see industrial action as something that is routine in workplaces or the economy. It won't be under Labor.
Under Labor you will only be able to take protected industrial action in a bargaining period for a new agreement.