This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
THIS week, the Australian coalition government led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it will no longer pursue its proposed union-busting legislation “as a sign of good faith.”
Instead Morrison says he will encourage Australian unions and business to take part in a four-month negotiation to try to solve a number of industrial relations issues.
He announced that there would be five priority areas for reform. These include changes to the Australian “awards system”; collective bargaining for workplace pay deals; casualisation and fixed-term employment; compliance and enforcement to ensure workers are paid properly and agreements on greenfield sites and new projects.
Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus cautiously welcomed the initiative, saying she was “glad to see the 20-year ritual of union-bashing stop.”
But she warned that job creation will take more than industrial reforms, and said the government must reconsider ending wage subsidies in September and reinvest in skills and education.
But reaching an agreement will be difficult. The Australian Council of Trade Unions has already rejected the employers’ “wish list” for the talks.
Morrison, who was roundly criticised in Australia because of the government’s and his personal handling of the recent devastation caused by bush fires, said it “never has been” his government’s policy to weaken trade unions.
Yet one of his first pieces of employment legislation following his re-election was the “Ensuring Integrity” legislation, designed to increase powers to deregister unions and disqualify union officials from holding office and the power to stop unions merging to create more powerful organisations.
The Ensuring Integrity Bill was defeated in Parliament in November last year after unions lobbied independent MPs to oppose it.
The Bill was lost, but Morrison’s government has been looking for an opportunity to reintroduce it.
Australian unions have played a major role during the Covid-19 pandemic, helping to secure a $70 billion (£37.5bn) “job keeper” wage subsidy.
They have won praise for negotiating increased flexibility to adapt to Covid-19 trading restrictions.
In a letter to Australia’s union members, McManus said: “Not only did you beat back every attempt to make it law in the parliament, you have shown the government throughout the pandemic that Australia only works because of working people.
“The announcement that the union-bashing Bill has been withdrawn provides us with an opportunity to focus on the real issues faced by working people. Secure jobs, fair pay and safe workplaces.”
Tony Burke is Unite assistant general secretary and the TUC general council lead on employment and union rights.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.