STRIKE on June 28 for workplace rights!

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A message from Socialist Alliance member Tim Gooden, Secretary, Geelong and Region Trades and Labour Council

Finally, after first backing Australian Workplace Agreements, ALP leader Kim Beazley has promised that Labor will phase them out. That’s a gain for our campaign against Work Choices.

AWAs, along with the ban on union entry into workplaces, have always been the core of the Howard government’s attack—they leave workers defenceless against their employers.

Beazley’s change of heart is a result of the massive public opposition to Work Choices.

Now Labor must pledge to repeal every last one of Howard’s anti-worker laws and abolish the institutions they have set up—like the Australian Building and Construction Commission and its secret police, and the wage-cutting “Fair Pay” Commission.

Labor must also commit to entrench in law unions’ right of entry into the workplace and the right to strike. Without those rights none of our other rights at work can be effectively defended.

But it’s not enough to wait for the next elections and vote ALP. Our campaign against Work Choices is growing. It’s making the Howard government feel nervous, but not enough to withdraw the legislation—yet.

The campaign needs a bit of the French approach. Earlier this year the workers’ and student movements in France kept on protesting and taking industrial action until they forced their politicians to withdraw an anti-worker law.

We too must keep building our movement—not only to defeat Howard but also to stop any future Labor government from backsliding on Beazley’s promises. (Of course, the movement will be needed even more if the Liberals win the next federal election.)

We need to:

► Increase the pickets against greedy employers who are using Work Choices to cut wages and conditions and force workers onto AWAs

► Get the message out that Howard’s laws give workers in the building industry less rights than murder suspects and protest against the secret police interrogations of building workers

► Pressure our unions, labour councils and the ACTU to organise more mass protests against Work Choices

► Organise a campaign of serious industrial action to make employers who attempt to exploit Work Choices pay economically; and

► Rebuild union organisation among the most exploited workers, especially casual and young workers.

That’s what the Socialist Alliance is committed to. That’s what we’re striving to do in Geelong

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