Analysis: Omnibus Bill Passes Senate

On 18 March 2021, the Fair Work Amendment (‘Supporting Australia’s Economic Recovery’) Bill passed the Senate in a version dramatically stripped-down from what had originally been contemplated by both the Morrison Government and their friends in big business.

The ACTU called this a win for workers, while at the same time acknowledging that the casual worker provisions that got up were a defeat. They celebrated:

“BREAKING: The union movement has successfully prevented the worst elements of the Morrison Government’s proposed anti-worker “Omnibus Bill”.

“Thanks to the hard work of tens of thousands of union members and supporters, of the five elements of these dangerous, extreme workplace laws, only one element was passed.” (Australian Unions email blast, 18 March 2021)

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Backbone of Our Movement: James

James, rank and file member of the NTEU

 

How long have you been a union member?

2 years.

Why did you join the union?

I joined the union for political reasons, and an understanding that all workplaces need a strong, efficient union to represent their workers’ needs.

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OHS Matters: OHS Laws for Volunteers and Non-Employees

 

“I am a volunteer in an information centre and am being asked to clean toilet facilities open to the public daily. Are they allowed to do this?”

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Parvin Mohammadi: Long-time labour and women’s activist

Parvin Mohammadi is a 59 year old Iranian woman who is currently in hiding from authorities in Iran.

Mohammadi was born in a working class family and her formative teenage years were in the tumultuous years that led to the 1979 Iranian Revolution that overthrew the repressive dictatorship of the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

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Analysis: International Women’s Day as Union as May Day

Born from the strike of women garment workers in capitalism’s early and brutal ascendancy, International Women’s Day (IWD) stands alongside May Day as a red letter date in workers’ global resistance.

On 8 March 1908, thousands of mostly immigrant striking women marched through New York City. They were demanding better pay and the end to the grueling and dangerous conditions, which included long hours and sexual harassment. After three months on strike, they won.

 

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Backbone of Our Movement: Kim Bullimore

Kim Bullimore, NTEU Rank and file

How long have you been a union member?

I am a currently a member of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU). I have been a rank-and-file member now for 5 or 6 years. However, I first joined a union more than 30+ years ago, when I was 19 or 20 years old and working in retail. Coming from a working-class family, I understood the importance of being part of a union, as they are the basic defence organisation for the working class. Trade unions allow us to collectively organise, to fight and defend workers right and to act in solidarity with oppressed and minority groups.

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OHS Matters: Women and Occupational Health and Safety

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, March 8, we pose the question: are women as equally protected as men under Australia’s OHS/WHS laws?

Australia’s OHS/WHS laws apply to all employee/workers equally – the laws do not discriminate and therefore everyone’s health and safety at work is equally protected.

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Analysis: Incitement Charge a Danger for Workers' Movement

 

When Chris Breen posted a Facebook event for the Refugee Action Collective (RAC) in March last year he didn’t anticipate he would end up spending nine hours in the cells of Preston police station.

But on the morning of Good Friday, 10 April 2020, he was arrested at his home. Police seized not only his mobile phone and computers but his teenage son’s laptop. By the time he was released from custody that evening he was facing a charge of incitement.

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Backbone of Our Movement: Fran Mckechnie

Fran Mckechnie smiling and waving an Australian Services Union flag

Fran Mckechnie
Australian Services Union Vic/Tas, Workplace delegate
Member of Unionists for Refugees

How long have you been a union member?

All my working life – since at least 1983.

Why did you join the union?

Strength and unity. My father was a strong union member on the waterfront. What really left an impression on me was the nurses’ strike under Irene Bolger when I was working as a nurse assistant. It opened my eyes to how the union could stand up for workers even though it felt like our backs were against the wall.

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OHS Matters: COVID-19, Vaccines and Workers

 

“We believe that COVID-19 vaccines are going to be rolled out in the near future - and that some workers/workplaces will be designated ‘priority’ and will be receiving them first. What can you tell us about this?”

 

You are right - there is a lot happening in this ‘space’ at the moment. Firstly, it’s important to know that in Australia all vaccines will be free of charge. Discussions between the States and Federal Health departments have taken place to identify priority groups who will be first in line to get vaccinated. These considerations include occupation.

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