For a 30 Hour Week With No Loss in Pay!
(The following is the text of a leaflet distributed at the June 20 “Stop the War on Workers” rally)
20-06-2017 – The war on workers continues unabated. Today’s actions have been called by the leaderships of some Unions primarily over the issues of:
- The federal government strengthening the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), which is specifically designed to slash wages, conditions and safety for workers in the construction industry.
- The forced reduction of Sunday penalty rates for retail & hospitality workers.
- The rampant wage theft by numerous employers
- The exploitation of “overseas” workers
Working people are enduring all of these attacks on their working, and thus living, conditions, and much more. Bullying and harassment by managers and supervisors is rife, and workers are doing millions of hours of unpaid overtime. Understaffing is widespread, resulting in unbearable workloads for the staff remaining, especially in the public sector. Nurses and teachers are stretched to the limit, and there is gross underpayment of staff in areas such as childcare. Wage growth in Australia is currently standing at the lowest level in history. Unemployment is rife, with many young people and university and school leavers unable to find work. On top of all of this, the federal government is attempting to push the retirement age out to 70 years!
Who is waging this war?
There is indeed a large scale war on workers in Australia, and in large parts of the world internationally. In order to fight back, Union members and workers generally need to be aware of just who, or what, is waging this war against us. The fact is that it is not just the Turnbull government, and not just the Liberal National Party (LNP), which is putting in place anti-worker laws. The Australian Labor Party (ALP) has barely opposed ANY of the anti-worker laws being enforced. Nor has any parliamentary party taken a consistent position of defence of working people. Of course, the attacks on workers are not just emanating from the federal and/or state parliaments. They originate from the entire class of employers, large and small. This is because the capitalist profit system is in dire crisis, and the only way out – for them – is to make workers pay for it. This is the source of who, or what, is waging this war against workers, and driving anti-worker measures such as relentless privatisation.
The Union leaders who have organised today’s rallies around the country are correct to raise the slogan “Enough is Enough”. However, the politics of these leaders is far from adequate, and can even lead to more attacks on workers. By targeting only the Turnbull government, the implication is that the election of an ALP federal or state government is the one thing that can stop the attacks on workers. But this is demonstrably false. Little can be won for workers without an organised struggle of working people and their Unions against the class of employers as a whole. This means that Union leaders need to facilitate, at the least, ongoing meetings of members and delegates, so that Union members can decide on what is to be done, and what political strategy should be used. We would suggest that given the scale of the attacks on working people, a national industrial campaign needs to be waged, involving all types of mass action, up to and including nation-wide strikes.
For a shorter working week with no loss in pay!
The attacks on workers are so numerous, and so extensive, that it is almost exhausting to list them all, let alone campaign against them. One demand which can galvanise Unions and their supporters, nationally and internationally, is the demand for a shorter working week with no loss in pay. A universal demand for a 30 hour week with no loss in pay, if put forward by the entire Union movement, and backed by a concerted campaign of ongoing mass actions, including industrial stoppages, has the potential to unify and strengthen a Union movement and a working class which is in dire need of a fightback. Workers can explain how a 30 hour work week, with no loss in pay, would lead to a vast undercutting of unemployment. It would lead to an increase in disposable income in the hands of workers, enabling them to contribute to the wider economy in dire need of a stimulus. Workers could explain that the extra money required would need to be forced from the profits of the bloated corporations and government coffers – so both of these bodies would give back to the communities from which they extract labour. Under the banner of a shorter working week with no loss in pay, the increased confidence and combativeness that Unionists and workers will gain will most likely lead to increased ability to organise to defeat other attacks such as the ABCC, the removal of penalty rates, and rampant wage theft.
Workers cannot expect the current crop of Union leaders to wage this desperately needed struggle. Invariably, today’s Union leaders are so comfortably ensconced in the system that refusing to fight is their second nature. There must be a new, class struggle leadership of the Unions which must push aside officials feathering their own nest. This task is bound up with the trial of forging a workers party which fights for a workers government. FOR A 30 HOUR WEEK WITH NO LOSS IN PAY!
PO BOX 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012