A big year looms ahead for Australian Unions because this is the year, we come together, to Change the Rules. To bring fairness back. To get Australia a pay rise, and a secure job. The rules are broken. Inequality is at a 70-year high. Wage growth at record lows. 40 percent of the workforce is insecure work. Too many working people are living in poverty, as the cost of everything keeps going up and up. Big business has never had so much power. A third of multinational companies in Australia don’t pay any tax. Others are locking out their workers or cancelling EBAs. Since the Global Economic Crisis money has flowed upwards and it has not come back to us.
We have been told for 30 years that trickle-down economics would bring better jobs and wages back to workers and families. But this promise was a lie.
The money has stayed with the rich, in offshore bank accounts, and they have only increased their wealth as our jobs have been casualised, offshored and outsourced, our services privatised and life has become harder.
So we need to commit ourselves to a once in a generation campaign to change the rules. We can turn around inequality by demanding the rich pay their fair share of tax and working people have better and stronger rights at work. This campaign needs to be led at rank and file level where we take our demands to our communities to win over public opinion. We know that when our mighty union movement campaigns together we can change the course of history.
Unionists have done this for generations and we will need to do it again.
We can change the rules to reverse the casualisation of jobs so we have collective power to win pay increases and better rights for the next generation. Our opponents seem to be worried, and they should be. The lesson from our history is that united movements of working people can achieve great change, and no amount of intimidation from conservative governments will stop that. So the message for those who oppose us is simple.
You can sack us. You can outlaw us. You can vilify us every single day with all of your media might. You can set up Royal Commissions. You can tap our phones, you can raid our offices. You can vilify and punish our leaders. You can bring in laws to police us. You can support laws that make our work hard, take away all the support for unions to grow, and all acknowledgement that we exist.
You can fine us, and jail us. You can do all this. But you will never defeat us.
Unions are not going away. We will never go away. And the harder you fight us, the more you teach us.
For you can never crush or destroy a belief – the right of all of us to be treated equally and fairly.
And you can never take away our power – the power of unions – the simple act of working people deciding to stick together.