Workers march for penalty rates and safe workplaces

Contributed by Ugly

At least 30,000 of us gathered at the Trades Hall in Melbourne and marched, to let the government know we will not tolerate the degrading of penalty rates or safety on the job.

Similar events took place in other cities and centres around Australia. There was a big national turnout, showing just how much anger there is on the ground.

Like everyone else there, I am sick and tired of working men and women being treated with disrespect made made to do without, while the one percent at the top, get everything.

Yesterday’s actions were part of an ongoing campaign that aims to force through some change for the better. Growing numbers are becoming determined to not let conditions that had been hard won by those who came before us, to be taken away.

Penalty rates were won by workers long ago because of having to work very unsociable hours, lousy shifts in the dead of night and at weekends, have a bad effect on family and social life. Penalty rates, for those who do have to work at unreasonable hours are in part compensation for the sacrifice. They are also vital to make ends meets, especially in these difficult times.

The penalty rate cuts take effect on 1 July.

There is also good reason to be really pissed-off with the uncaring, dangerous, anti-worker moves made by this LNP federal government.

We all want to be able to go to work in the morning and know we will be coming home safely at the end of the day. We do not want to die on the job because some louse of a boss is penny-pinching on safety issues and causing the death of workers.

None of these things matter to the LNP. They want to bash unions, cut safety measures, prevent union workplace health safety inspections and allow bosses all manner of dodgy shortcuts on the job. In short,

All this in the interests of major companies, many of which are involved in the massive tax evasion industry, sending billions overseas and denying the benefits that these taxes would have brought to the Australian population.

The big companies in the construction industry are a good example.

Luke Hilakari secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council said the “devastating legislation,” as he rightly called the renewed ABCC legislation, puts construction workers at risk nationwide. He said 330 workers were killed when the ABCC was last in place.

John Setka Victorian secretary of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) was adamant when he spoke that the union will never be beaten down.

He said: “”Our job is to preserve life, make sure you earn a decent living and come home to your loved ones” and that the ABCC was “all politics and union-bashing…They are an attack dog for the government-driven, dog zealots who hate unions and workers in general”.

Setka added that the ABCC protected shonky builders and corrupt companies. He made it clear that shady dealings by ABCC inspectors would be monitored by the union.

“We consider this is the best thing to do. The possibility of some very cosy relationships between inspectors and building firm bosses is very real. After all the ABCC is itself only a political/legalistic arm of the LNP government, a government that is allegedly “in bed” with lots of big business interests and has very well proven anti worker, anti-union stance and policies”.

These attacks are designed to push the burden of a worsening economic situation on the backs of working people. This is the truth of it.

It could be that we are in for an economic crisis, as occurred in the 1930’s Great Depression. In those days Dad and others sang a favourate song called Give Me Back My Twopence, about the cutting of wages and conditions by the then government.

Looks like history is repeating. The attack of the 1930’s was fought against and overcome in the end. It can be done agian.



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