John Howard’s WorkChoices has criminalised collective bargaining and union representation. Union busting is now not just strictly legal in Australia but has a goal of turning honest workers who want a safe and fair workplace into prison inmates- or forcing them and their families into bankruptcy. Worse, John Howard’s secret industrial relations police force has a $96 million war chest to help put them there.
Now John Howard’s Building Industry Commission ‘Star Chamber’ wants to fine Mal and 106 other construction workers up to $28,700 or put them in jail for 6 months for alleged violation of WorkChoices laws.
Mal Peters is touring Australia, speaking about his experience with WorkChoices. Peters and Andrew Ferguson, General Secretary of the NSW branch of the CFMEU, appeared last Tuesday, 25 July 2006, at the Cricketers Arms Hotel at Surrey Hills, Sydney, as part of the Cricks Lecture Series podcasts carried on Fourth Estate Radio.
Most frightening in WorkChoices is the removal of common civil liberties from labor law. If workers are approached by investigators from John Howard’s secret labor police squad, the Building Industry Commission (BIC), they may not even refuse to give evidence for any reason, including avoidance of self-incrimination. Failing to give evidence to the BIC sets up the worker for a $6,600 fine. BIC investigators have been tailing Mal Peters on his Australian speaking tour, asking if union meetings were held on company time, on company premises without permission and so on.
These removals of basic human rights are in direct defiance of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Howard seeks nothing short of a return to the days of the Master and Servant Act.
Beazley has to do better than merely dispose of AWAs. The whole of WorkChoices must be repealed for Labor to get my vote.
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