Change the Rules! Change the Government! Change the System!

“Change the Rules” campaigners across the country are winning the argument that “Australia needs a Wage Rise” and that the broken rules have to be changed to fix underemployment and insecurity at work, stagnating wages and inequality.

We can defeat the Morrison Coalition government and get ready to press the next government to really “Change the Rules” and, to build industry-wide victories based on organized struggles that defy any limits on workers’ rights.

Labor’s commitments include some positive changes

  • restore penalty rates;
  • abolish the Australian Building & Construction Commission (ABCC);
  • stop the unilateral termination of enterprise agreements, and employers using sham enterprise agreements;
  • significantly (triple) increase penalties for systemic and intentional underpayment of wages.
  • ensure the minimum wage is a living wage;
  • 10 days’ paid family and domestic violence leave;
  • introducing an objective definition of casual employment.

But these changes give more power to institutions, not to workers and their unions.

Collective Bargaining and Strikes:  Labor has not YET committed to more power for workers and their unions.

The necessary Labor commitment to industry or award-based bargaining, and the right to strike without facing punitive fines for workers their unions is STILL missing. Labor is still discussing these with unions and employers. Labor’s living wage proposal does not actually guarantee it.

The Greens policy commits more explicitly to these necessary changes, and that is a great opportunity for workers.

After the election: continue to challenge the system.

The Change the Rules campaign is meant to continue after the election. There will be “unfinished business”.

Workers and their unions who want real power to counter employers’ power must continue with both electoral and also defiant industrial activity after the elections.

We must not allow the removal of our campaigns as in 2008-9 when Labor produced the current “broken rules”.

Unions exist so workers can exert direct counter-power against employers and governments, starting with their workplace grievances, then in various forms of bargaining and in social and political demands. Solidarity action – currently “illegal” - makes a real difference to workers in all of these situations. The democratic, effective use of Industrial action enables workers to “be their union”. It’s what makes a real difference.

Post-election union activity must restore real power to workers, not just to the Fair Work Commission and Ombudsman. We must prepare an escalation of defiant industrial action.

This statement and the related policy papers are presented as part of the SEARCH Foundation’s work for a democratic, ecological, socialist Australia, based on increased public and social ownership, cooperative mechanisms and workers self-management, that enable people to have an effective voice in all decision-making. Please share them with your networks in the community and at work.


Forum Invite

Defeat the 21st century laws against workers

Wednesday May 29, 2019

6pm- 8pm, Sydney Trades Hall

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