Australia: Working Conditions
Over Half a Million Workers on the Streets Across Australia15 Nov 2005 15:58 GMT
half a million people took part in over 300 protests across Australia on 15 November, the first initiative of a national movement of workers showing their solidarity in opposition to proposed Industrial Relations laws, an attack on workers conditions, by the Howard Federal government. Melbourne saw possibly the largest political rally in its history with up to 250,000 people clogging the heart of the City, and marching in a crowd that reached for 18 blocks. Sydney also saw around 45,000 people gathered in Martin Place after an early morning blockade of the M4 motorway, while Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart and Darwin all saw unprecedented crowds. Regional Australia also came out in force, and solidarity protests occurred in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.
The Howard government’s IR changes and anti-terrorist legislation are closely linked and are in keeping with the political behaviour of Australian conservatism in government. The new Sedition Laws suggest that industrial disputes or industrial matters may be labelled seditious, where there is an absence of "good faith". The reforms further push Australian Workplace Agreements, with the right to strike effectively being lost, while employer use of lockouts is encouraged.