The Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) decision to slash penalty rates in the hospitality, retail and fast food sectors threatens the wages of more than 700,000 workers. The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has correctly described the decision as “the biggest wage cut since the Great Depression”.
In addition to the attack on penalty rates, the government has plans to cut pensions, family tax benefits and welfare payments. At the same time, they want to introduce tax cuts for their big business mates! It’s a sick joke.
With all this being the case, a determined response by the trade union movement is in order.
It is clear that the avenues of lobbying have been exhausted. It’s time to really push back against the government’s corporate agenda by using our industrial strength. If we accept attacks on society’s most vulnerable it will only encourage them to go after the rest of the working class. We need to draw a line in the sand.
This government is weak and divided. If the trade union movement adopts a fighting approach we can stop them and reverse the trend towards wealth inequality in Australia.
A fighting strategy to stop the attacks:
*For the ACTU to call a one-day national stop-work action, with rallies in all major cities, to demand legislation that protects penalty rates in all Awards. This would send a strong message to employers, and the parliament, that workers will not stand for this attack.
*For the ACTU to co-ordinate action to target particular wage-cutting employers with pickets, protests, occupations and boycotts. Use our collective strength to push back against rogue bosses.
*Adopt a policy whereby no ACTU affiliate is authorised to sign off on a workplace agreement that undermines penalty rates in any way. We need a clear movement-wide policy that agrees that penalty rates are sacrosanct.
*Oppose all budget cuts. Instead demand that we increase taxes on big business to fund the welfare, public services and infrastructure that we need. Plenty of wealth is created but it’s being horded by the rich. We need to take it back!
*Build a political alternative to the major parties. Both the Liberals and Labor are tied to big business. Workers need a new party that fights for our interests and against the profiteering of the rich.
Text of a Socialist Party leaflet distributed in March 2017