Contributed by members of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA)
In some ways, we are living in a frightening time. Partly, because we are facing enormous pressure that has been disorganising us at work.
It is no secret that our overall union organisation on the job is not what it once was. Nor is union industrial muscle as strong.
There are many reason why we have been on the backfoot. This has contributed to governments imposing increasing restrictions on the conditions in which we work and how we are rewarded for our effort. Our collective rights are being constantly pressured downwards.
Work is moving down the casualisation path and it is doing so at a frightening pace. It affects all industries.
Security is a thing of the past. As our real wages go down, it gets harder to survive from week to week and provide a decent future for the next generation All because those at the top end of town want more and they are taking it from the rest of us.
The top end of town has a government it owns and is complicit in pursuing what it wants and is
prepared to go to extraordinary lengths, to bring this about.
Here are just a few examples:
- The re-introduction of the ABCC in the construction industry, a move that is designed to outlaw and remove unions from the workplace.
- Cutting of penalty rates in the hospitality industry
- Restrictions on journalists in doing their work.
Together, these moves are designed to put obstacles in the way of being represented by a union, acting collectively exposing wrongs committed by government and the curtailment of our rights. Unions and the ability to speak out is what gives us some protection against injustice.
In this brave new world, we are locked in a race to the bottom.
Unions and those in a growing number of our workplaces are starting to fight back and there have been some victories too, against attempts to casualise work, cut pay and take other working conditions and to defend our rights in general
With this there is a good foundation on which to start moving from fighting sporadic battles, towards taking on the wider war, in a more extended way. Doing so will depend on our collective resolve. For unions and union members, this means being frank and improving the way we go about taking on the challenge.
In the present economic and political climate, the our traditional waking off the job tactic is getting much harder to wage. It means longer periods on the grass and the hurt this brings to workers and their families. New methods need to be developed and this must involve a much bigger unions and community alliance, to create an effective force and provide a voice that will make all the difference.
Elements of this already exist and they can be built up.