Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 28 June 2005 2005) . . Page.. 2406 ..
through a huge amount of work and not a lot of publicity, word of mouth, a few signs up at the intersection, and Bob’s your uncle. I commend the community around the Uniting Church in Denman Street.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (6.24): Mr Speaker, I rise tonight to talk about significant events in our community—the mobilisation of union members, their families, workmates and supporters throughout our community in defence of their rights at work. Following the launch of the Unions ACT campaign last week, some 300 union activists and their families and supporters met last Sunday outside the Hyatt Hotel to protest proposed changes to industrial relations in Australia and in Canberra in particular.
The event was focused on the Liberal federal council meeting held at the Hyatt Hotel over the weekend and attended, I notice, by our Assembly opposition member Richard Mulcahy. Like two-thirds of delegates voting inside who opposed the changes to industrial relations, the 300 who gathered outside opposed these changes to industrial relations as well. I do wonder how Mr Mulcahy would have voted.
The concern of union members, their families and supporters who gathered outside about the proposed changes to industrial relations was clear. The community demands our rights at work. We have worked hard in Australia to ensure that we meet world’s best practice standards for occupational health and safety. Never is this more the case than in the ACT where the Labor government has worked hard to ensure that workers in the ACT are as safe as they can be. We do not want these conditions threatened.
We want access of qualified union officials and WorkCover inspectors to sites, both white and blue collar, to ensure that our workplaces are compliant and that we are safe when we are working. We want the right to represent ourselves in bargaining, in whatever form we see fit. This includes our right to union representation and to collective bargaining. We want the right to secure employment and redress for unfair dismissal. We have worked hard to win these rights at work.
The rally on Sunday and those across the country this week demonstrate that we will not take cuts to our wages and conditions and to our job security and union representation lying down. The speakers at the rally on Sunday, which I attended, along with my Labor colleagues Senator Kate Lundy and Minister Katy Gallagher, spoke of the concerns they have for the rights of workers in industries they work in and represent.
From cleaning and construction to teaching and the public service, to childcare and community services, to retired workers and the unemployed, there is a widespread, genuine and legitimate concern about the proposed industrial relations changes. There is a concern about the impact these changes are going to have on workplaces and our rights at work.
The view of the federal government and of some businesses on this one is that workers have no right to be concerned about the future of their job security and working conditions. Workers are entitled to be concerned. Shifting the focus of industrial relations away from fairness signals that the interests of working families are being excluded from this process. It appears that even two-thirds of Liberals have been