Attacks on workers at heart of federal government agenda
As Australians face rising inequality and flat-lining wages, the Turnbull Government has continued its sustained attacks on workers.
Wages are stalled at record lows with workers receiving on average just a 1.9% increase to their wages in the last financial year (and similar increases over the past three years). Compounding this financial pressure are cuts to penalty rates for 700,000 workers which the Turnbull government refuses to reverse.
Meanwhile, the government has pushed for cuts to business tax despite the fact 678 big corporations (those with income in excess of $100 million) paid zero corporate tax in Australia during the year 2014-2015.
Reports this week that Federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash’s office notified media of a police raid on Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) offices only illustrate this government’s determination to attack workers and their representatives.
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Secretary Sally McManus condemned the actions.
“Using the police in such a way, while refusing to do anything to prevent money laundering by terrorists and drug dealers by the big banks, demonstrates the government’s appalling priorities,” Ms McManus said.
“This is the sort of action you would expect to see by an authoritarian dictator, and it has no place in Australia.”
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The AWU incident follows an attempt from the government to introduce a so-called “Ensuring Integrity” bill, which would have given the government and members of the business community the power to decide who can stand for election as union leaders and even the power to disband unions entirely.
The bill was defeated by opposition from the Labor Party and crossbench MPs.
IEUA-QNT Assistant Secretary Brad Hayes said attacks on working people were facilitated by a broken system, including a bargaining system which provided far too much power to employers.
“In the last three years, more than 850 collective agreements, covering approximately 120,000 workers, have been terminated,” Mr Hayes said.
“Just recently, we have seen Streets ice cream company attempt to cancel its collective agreement and leave workers facing a 46 per cent wage cut.
“The Federal Government has presided over all of these attacks on workers, allowing inequality to spiral and denying workers the power to negotiate a fair deal.”
Mr Hayes said our industrial relations system is broken and that strengthening unions will be essential to delivering fairer outcomes for workers in the future.
“If Australian workers seek financial security and protection at work, they need to join their union so, together, we can change the rules,” Mr Hayes said.