Australian Politics

Solidarity is being birthed away – Activism

Activism used to be an act of solidarity, one man fighting for the job/rights of their fellow man. On some levels today this is still true, but with each conservative government that remains in power for too long, the act of fighting for your fellow worker, solidarity with your fellow worker, your next door neighbour is slowly being birthed away.

Being a part of a union is having a voice in the workplace, its the act of having representation when you are unable to represent yourself, it is someone who has endowed themselves with an understanding of your legal rights as well as your workplace rights and will go to bat for you when you have no clue.

Most conservative governments will try to slowly bully you into believing that you don’t need a union, or that you have no rights at work. The Abbott government setup the quickest royal commission in history to demonise unions in the minds of Australian workers, this was/is an attempt to have you give up your voice, your rights at work and all they had to do was be noisy enough to make you hear the words, ‘a slush fund ripping off workers’.

They might well be right, but if such things have occurred, then the police have the powers to investigate such accusations, however, if left to the police, then you would not be fearful of your union representative at work.

It does not matter if you work part time, full time or even casually, you have rights at work. I had a boss who told me upon hiring me that because I was a casual worker I had no right to compensation, it was a lie of course, but not many these days know about their rights.

Case study:

On the job, a man working for an in-law full time, wrenched his knee. It was a delivery job and when he got back to base he reported the injury, he had a witness but the boss informed him that because he did not report it straight away, he could not claim compo. Of course he could, he reported the incident an hour after it occurred because it took that long to get back to base and because he trusted his boss, he would know, right? He went to the doctors and said that he fell of the back of a ute so that he didn’t have to say it happened at work, where it would end up being a lot of run around and he wasn’t able to get compo anyway, or so his boss told him.

6-months later he informs an old union rep what had happened in conversation, because he hadn’t had time to go and have the operation to fix his knee. After the operation he needs 3-months off work. He has just seen his first baby enter the world and hopefully will use the baby bonus to support his whilst he has the operation. The union rep informed him his rights but there’s nothing that can now be done. The rep told him to tell the doctor what really happened but it might well be too late. You get 7-years to make a workers compensation claim, well you used too, it might well still be the same today, check with your union rep.

So, you are told you have no rights at work, join a union and if something does not feel right to you, or you have been unfairly treated etc… contact your union and they will go to bat for you.

This is why activism is dying out, their boss tells them one thing and why would they lie? By the time new workers realise that they did have rights, its sometimes too late. If you want to keep your job, you will do this that and the other and conservative governments, usually slowly give that power to business owners but Tony Abbott wanted to bring in his mutual obligation and work for the dole ideologies immediately along with John Howard’s work choices.

Ask your parents why John Howard lost his own seat over his work choices plans. Its not usual for a PM to lose his own seat, though I feel Tony Abbott might learn that lesson too.

Activism is being birthed out of existence. It was a bloody fight for the rights of the worker and that is being swept under the carpet. The rights that workers now have, overtime, penalties, sick days etc.. were all acquired for the worker by the unions and have lasted almost a century and a half. The Labor party is made up of the unions. My father always told me, as I have told my children ‘Labor is always for the worker, Liberal is only every for the rich man.’

My daughter is a lot like me, she knows her rights, she is not afraid to utilise them. She is part of a union, she will pass on these stories to her children if she ever chooses to have any in this world. I have a son who works on the mines, he has worked hard to get where he is, but he is not part of a union, if he was, he wouldn’t have risen amongst the ranks as he has. He’s now management, he is well respected as someone who does the job right the first time and if he toes the party line, will maintain his position.

So although activism is still prevalent, it lost its zing for a while, but just throw the Abbott government into the mix and a bloody assault against an oppressed people and you will see it rise every time, because as much as people try to bury their natures, it will, when required, break through. Its called activism now but at one time it was known as anarchism but as will all rights for the people, this word was distorted by the power hungry to damage the actions of the worker.



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