Speech by Sharan Burrow, ACTU President on the National Day of Community Protest against the Federal Government’s IR laws.

Remember this day. Remember this day.

Because THIS is the start of something.

For more than 100 years Australia has had an industrial relations system that has given working people a share of the benefits of economic prosperity when times are good – and ensured that there are decent protections for people when times get tough.

This is the system the Federal Governments workplace laws will destroy.

We must not be the first generation of Australians who leaves our kids with fewer rights at work than we inherited.

And we will not.

Today we are standing up for the values that shape the way we care about each other.

The way we care about time for our families and care about a nation that balances prosperity with our great way of life. In every corner of Australia people are standing together to oppose the Government’s industrial relations laws and the attack they represent to our living standards and our family and community life.

Lets hear what some of Australia’s senior religious leaders think of the Governments industrial relations plans.

Earlier this year we warned the Australian community of what this government was planning – and the government said we were wrong – wait for the detail they said! Then they put out the policy and it was worse than we anticipated – and they knew it – for they spent $55 million of our money trying to convince us that everything was OK Well the laws have now been released- and they are much worse than we feared.

They will strip away what has taken 100 years to build. The Government has tried to hide the facts.

They have called their IR laws WorkChoices.

WorkChoices – Rubbish, deceitful rubbish. And here are 5 important facts they can’t hide. 1. The laws attack job security by abolishing unfair dismissal protection for millions of workers…potentially every worker in Australia. 2. The laws will destroy our unique system of awards as the safety net of pay and conditions. 3. The laws will allow employers to cut take-home pay. 4. The laws will let the value of minimum wages fall. 5. And the laws aim to crack down on unions and collective bargaining. In John Howard’s workplaces the employers will have all of the power and workers are to be signed up to individual contracts. None of our conditions will be safe:

  • Penalty rates
  • Public holidays
  • Overtime pay
  • Control over rostered hours
  • Shift penalties
  • Even 4 weeks annual leave
  • John Howard’s is putting it all up for grabs.


    Please welcome these working Australians on stage and applaud their courage.

    I am, Greg is and every union leader in this country is ready to fight like we have never fought before.

    Join us.