Hundreds of thousands of workers across Australia are expected to take part in a week of activities beginning today to protect the rights of working Australians and oppose new Federal Government industrial relations changes.

Unions will today (Sunday) launch their national week of action in Brisbane where workers will converge on Kangaroo Point Cliffs at 10.00am (lower picnic area – Lower River Tce).

Launching the week of activities in Brisbane today, ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

“The aim of the week of activities is to inform as many people as possible that their basic rights, job security and living standards are threatened by Howard Government plans to radically change Australia’s workplace laws.

The Government takes control of the Senate on July 1 and plans to use its new powers to push through changes to Australia’s workplace laws that include:

  • A wage freeze for 1.6 million award workers. Employment Minister Kevin Andrews has confirmed that Govt changes to the way minimum wages are set will mean low paid workers will not receive a pay rise for at least the next 18 months.
  • Removing protection from unfair dismissal for 3.6 million workers. All people employed in companies with less than 100 staff will lose protection from unfair dismissal. This will particularly affect Australians working in rural and regional communities.
  • Allowing employers to push workers onto individual contracts that cut take-home pay and reduce employment conditions to only 5 minimum standards.
  • Effectively abolish State industrial relations systems and the award safety net. The award safety net will be replaced with just five conditions – a minimum hourly rate of pay (currently $12.75), sick leave, annual leave, unpaid parental leave and a 38 hour working week. Many workers will lose conditions like weekend, shift and public holiday rates; overtime; redundancy pay; and allowances and loadings.
  • This week union members across the country will be meeting and taking to the streets to protest the Government’s new workplace laws.

    Major rallies are planned for Thursday 30 June in Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart and regional centres including Geelong, Cairns, Gladstone, Mackay, Rockhampton, Townsville and Bunbury.

    An important focus of the national week of activities will be to inform people that are not union members about the Government’s new workplace laws. The new laws will affect all Australian workers whether they are in a union or not. In fact it is those workers who do not have the protection of a strong union who will be most vunerable to their negative impacts.

    The Government’s new workplace laws will take working families backwards at a time when many people are already struggling to keep their heads above water. That is why unions are committed to oppose the Government and fight for decent workplace rights for all Australians,” said Ms Burrow.

    Media contacts:
    ACTU – Susannah Greenleaf on 0418 479 455
    QCU – Tania Reeves on 0418 700 419

    A schedule of events for the week of action is at: