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Issue #1671      February 4, 2015

Unions’ Day of Action

Unions have called a snap nationwide day of action to be held early next month in protest at Liberal-National Party policies which have undermined rights at work and living standards. Protests will take place in major cities around the country on March 4, as workers turn up the heat on the beleaguered Coalition government of Tony Abbott.

The announcement of the rallies came on the eve of the Coalition’s disastrous result in the Queensland election on the weekend, where Premier Campbell Newman was ousted from his own seat and the Liberal-National Party is on the verge of losing government after a campaign in which unions played an instrumental role.

ACTU president Ged Kearney said Queenslanders had sent a clear message that they will not sit back while health, education, public services and workers’ rights are attacked.

“Tony Abbott is taking Australia where Campbell Newman took Queensland – slashing public sector jobs, cutting services and attacking rights at work,” Kearney said on Sunday.

The March 4 day of action was announced late on Friday in an email from ACTU secretary Dave Oliver to members of the Australian Unions campaign network.

Venues and times for the nationwide protests, dubbed Fight for our Rights, are yet to be confirmed. “Our rights at work are again under attack from the Abbott government and employers,” Oliver said in his email message.

“Just last week it became even clearer that the full-scale Productivity Commission inquiry into our rights at work could deliver cuts to penalty rates, the abolition of the minimum wage, bring back unfair individual contracts and swing even more power to employers.

“The time to stand up and fight back is now.”

The email message listed a range of areas of where Australian living standards were under attack, including the potential of cuts to wages and conditions from the Productivity Commission review, higher healthcare costs and university fees, cuts to the ABC and public services, pensions and superannuation, changes to unemployment benefits, and cuts to community services.

Unions had considered rallies around the nation this month to defend Medicare, but put them on hold after the government backed down on its move to scrap a $20 rebate to doctors.

At latest counting, the Newman Government in Queensland had suffered an 8.5% swing against it, and held 40 seats, while Labor had gained 43 seats following an 11.4% swing.

Labor needs 45 seats to form government outright, but the ABC has it falling one short which means whoever forms the next government will need to strike a deal with Katter’s Australian Party and the one independent MP.

“Our campaign didn’t just start 26 days ago – it started in September 2012 when Newman and the LNP sacked 24,000 workers,” Queensland Council of Unions President John Battams said on Saturday night.

Working Life

Next article – Harbour ferries hit heavy weather

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