Combet declares ‘fight to the death’ on IR laws

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Combet declares ‘fight to the death’ on IR laws

ACTU Secretary Greg Combet has stared the Federal Government in the eye and challenged it to defeat a campaign of civil disobedience from the union movement.

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ACTU Secretary Greg Combet has stared the Federal Government in the eye and challenged it to defeat a campaign of civil disobedience from the union movement. 

But he warned the union movement must be disciplined and responsible, with no place for foolhardy or reckless behaviour.  

In a speech to the massive anti-IR laws rally in Melbourne today Combet said he would not pay any fine levied against him under the Government’s new WorkChoices legislation. 

‘As a union leader let me make this clear,’ he told cheering unionists at the rally. ‘I will not pay a $33,000 fine for asking for people to be treated fairly. I will be asking other union leaders to do the same.’ 

Pledge of support to building workers

Combet pledged support for building workers, who have been particularly targeted by the Government’s new legislation - with legislation already in place for that sector. 

‘Just as we supported the maritime workers when they were targeted, we will support building workers and their families,’ Combet said. 

‘Building workers have been especially targeted. They risk jail for standing up for their rights.

‘I am concerned for them and their families.’ 

Combet said the most important thing unions do on building sites is protect the safety of workers. 

‘And yet the Government wants to smash the building unions,’ he said. ‘It will put lives at risk.

‘I want the Prime Minister to know something right now. We will hold the Government to account for the human cost of these laws.’ 

Fines available under legislation

Combet said unions and workers all faced risks under the new laws - even for doing bread and butter union work.  

‘It will be illegal to ask for workers to be protected against unfair dismissal when negotiating an agreement - and there’s a $33,000 fine just for asking.  

‘And there will be a $33,000 fine for asking for union involvement in a disputes settlement procedure.  

‘A $33,000 fine for asking for the right for people to attend union education courses.

‘A $33,000 fine for asking to protect jobs against contracting out.

‘A $33,000 fine for asking for a commitment to collectively bargain 

‘And a $33,000 fine for asking for anything else the Government might like to ban. 

‘These are scandalous abuses of democratic rights. But we will not be intimidated. 

‘Unions must continue to stand up for people.’

'Legislation goes too far'

Combet said the Federal Government has gone too far with its legislation.  

‘On such a fundamental issue we must look the Government in the eye and stare them down,’ he said. ‘We must be disciplined and responsible. There is no place for foolhardy or reckless behaviour.  

‘But we must also be firm in our resolve to stand up for people.’ 

Combet said that while it is true that it will take time for some people to be affected by the law, ‘the rights of every person will be diminished’. 

‘And for many the change will come quickly - particularly the most vulnerable,’ he said.

Real campaign starts now

Combet said the union movement would fight for as long as it took to overturn the Government’s IR laws. 

‘The past few months have only been the warm-up to the main event – The real campaign starts now,’ he said. 

Combet’s speech can be read on ACTU website.

Related

Federal IR changes 2005  

 

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