Our members are the people who work tirelessly to deliver quality care and give support to our communities, day in and day out. They are the dietitian sharing a cuppa with your grandma; the scientist that diagnosed your loved one’s health problem; the pharmacist making sure you have the right medications; the psychologist that helps you on your road to recovery. For many of our members, you carry out this important work while volunteering your own time to helping run your union.
The rights of workers to organise, seek union representation, and democratically run their unions, is an internationally recognised human right – just like a free press. Free unions are essential checks on the powerful in any democracy. As a member, you benefit from the work unions do through improved wages, conditions and job security. Without unions workplaces would be unsafe and there’d be no weekends or paid leave (or many of the things we take for granted – this video will help explain).
During the Federal Election campaign, the Morrison Government insisted that it had no plans to reduce workers’ rights. But now, Morrison is dusting off failed legislation called the Ensuring Integrity (EI) Bill to attack unions; your freedom to organise and your rights at work. The Australian union movement is already heavily regulated and the EI Bill goes further than any other western democracy in interfering in democratic workers organisations. In fact the union movement is more heavily regulated than industries like the finance industry or corporations where it was revealed how dodgy the banking industry is in Australia.
The Morrison Government is launching an outright attack on workers and dressing up as tackling the ‘bad guy’. The truth is that they let the bad guys get away with all sorts of things. Let’s look at the record so far; the Morrison Government is failing Australians on letting the banks get away with dodgy practices like billing dead people; continuing to allow employers get away with wage theft and refusing to call it wage theft; dismantling penalty rates; more attacks on Medicare and failing to increase Newstart which hasn’t seen an increase since 1994.
The EI Bill would give the Morrison Government, employers or any other party with ‘sufficient interest’ the power to interfere in the running and work of unions. It would give them the ability to disqualify people from union leadership, block union mergers, and more easily deregister unions. The EI Bill fundamentally interferes with our fundamental democratic rights and undermines the basic premise of what western liberal democracies stand for. Ultimately the legislation is designed to stop workers like you from organising with your colleagues, running unions and getting a choice as to who represents you.
The legislation is so extreme it opens the door to allowing employers to block who represents you in important union work such as negotiating wages and defending you in disciplinary or performance matters.
These laws will not apply to corporations or other types of elected officials, like politicians. Despite the numerous scandals in banking and other corporations, including those operating in health and community services, that have seen money stolen, elderly people without enough food, wage theft and fraud, no one in any of those cases has been barred from holding office, nor has a single organisation been de-registered or prosecuted under the full weight of the law. Instead the corporate regulator lets them off with a slap on the wrist and a promise to do better.
Your union will be campaigning to protect the rights of members. The work we do is steeped in our firm belief that unions, as the longest standing, democratically run vehicles for social progression and economic equality must be protected.
But to win this fight we need your help.
If you are interested in helping fight back, we need you to share your story about what the union means to you. If you’re ready to fight back contact Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org