Exercise your muscle

By Luke Hilakari, Victorian Trades Hall Secretary

Industrial and political power is a muscle. You must exercise it to build your strength and you have to keep using it to stay strong.

At the 2014 state election campaign we exercised our political muscle. More than 2000 unionists hit the streets and the phones, talking to voters about their own experiences. Our authenticity and our strength meant for the first time since the 1950s, a one-term Liberal government was defeated in Victoria. This massive win for working people showed the power of Victorian union members working together.

Workers standing strong together will always win

The rights that union members have fought for and won are continually under attack. Every day, big business comes up with new ways to dodge and manipulate the law. They use labour hire, sham contracting and other forms of insecure employment.

Labour hire companies have led the charge in the exploitation of workers, but Victorian unionists have flexed their muscle and are fighting back. Thanks to tireless union campaigning, the Victorian Government has committed to introduce a labour hire licensing scheme to crack down on the crooks and shonks. Victorian Trades Hall is currently in discussions with the government on the proper design of this vital change.

And we have other big battles ahead of us. The Liberals with the help of their cross-bench cronies, One Nation, Xenophon, Liberal Democrats and Derryn Hinch have voted to reinstate the ABCC. The ABCC strips rights from construction workers and their unions and puts lives at risk. Put simply, the ABCC kills working people. We have no choice but to defeat the government that put it in place and abolish it once and for all.

The attack on workers extends beyond your industry. At a time when wage growth in Australia is at an all-time low, the Liberals, their big business mates and the Fair Work Commission have teamed up to slash the pay of our lowest paid workers. At the same time, they’ve come together to give multinational corporations a giant tax cut. It seems the sole intention of the Liberals is to boost the bank balances of their rich mates off the backs of working people.

Mobilise to win

That’s why it’s important to have governments standing up for workers in Victoria and around the country. By the end of 2018 we will have fought a state election and probably another federal election. After smashing the Liberals at both those elections we can kill the ABCC, crack down on dodgy labour hire companies, protect penalty rates, make sure Victoria gets its fair share of infrastructure funding, and start fixing our broken industrial laws.

To win these elections we must organise and mobilise. Now is the time for us to once again begin exercising our political muscle. The campaign team at Trades Hall has four campaign organisers hitting the streets with volunteers every week. Volunteers are regular workers like you, and they are the key to our campaign.

Our strength is in our authentic voices, and it’s a strength the Liberals will never be able to match. They are money. We are the people. 2017 is the year to make sure we’re fighting fit. 2018 is the year we use our strength to smash the Liberals and take back our country for the workers. So, let’s hit the gym and build that muscle.

 Have you signed up to get involved with the We Are Union campaign yet? Get involved at weareunion.org.au/volunteer .