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Restoring the right to strike


This Branch recognises the struggle against inequality is at the core of the Labor project.

The decision of the Fair Work Commission to reduce Sunday penalty rates in the retail, fast food, hospitality and pharmacy industries represents an attack on the lowest paid and most vulnerable workers. This decision will result in a direct transfer from wages to profits that will only exacerbate the growth of income inequality. The decision is symptomatic of the current imbalance in the legislative arrangements in favour of employers.

This Branch recognises that wages growth is at a record low and that boosting demand in the economy requires strong wages growth.  Wages growth depends on a strong safety net based on the cost of living and the ability of workers to bargain for pay increases. To bargain effectively workers must have an unfettered right to withdraw their labour. We recognise the relationship between workers and their employer is one of unequal power and that restrictions on exercising the right to strike shift the balance of power in workplaces further in favour of the employer.

The right to strike is a fundamental human right, being central to the right to form trade unions and collectively bargaining (ILO Conventions 87 & 98).

This branch calls on the next Federal Labor Government to legislate to remove all impediments to exercising the right to strike in all Commonwealth legislation including:

  • Removal of restrictions on the capacity to bargain and strike across industries such as the prohibition on pattern bargaining and secondary boycotts;

  • Removal of restrictions on when industrial action can be taken;

  • Removal of restrictions on what constitutes industrial action;

  • Removal of requirements for notice of industrial action and for the holding of protected action ballots;

  • Removal of the prohibitions on strike pay; and

  • Removal of restrictions on the content of collective agreements.

Restoring the right to strike in Australian labour law is an essential step in ensuring soaring business profits are shared with workers, instead of siphoned off to the 1%.

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