The rules we demand changed

Legalise industry bargaining

Industry bargaining is officially illegal in Australia. By allowing workers across an industry to negotiate with the bosses, we can ensure businesses don’t compete by cutting workers’ wages, and we will see pay rises.

Stop the widespread termination of agreements by the bosses

Known as the ‘the nuclear option’, employers have increasingly been using terminations of enterprise agreements to increase their bargaining power over workers and cut long-won wages and conditions.

Beginning with Aurizon rail workers in Queensland, terminations have spread to all industries, including Murdoch University in WA and even our own ETU members at Loy Yang power station last year.

Allow workers to bargain with the big boss

Current restrictions on bargaining mean that while the ultimate employer (like Maxim or Exxon) sets wage budgets, workers are forced to negotiate with contractors and middlemen unable to make decisions.

This change would mean no more situations like CUB and Esso where workers couldn’t take on the companies they ultimately worked for.

End wage and superannuation theft by giving workers and unions the tools to enforce our rights

Workers should be able to stop work if the boss isn’t paying us wages or super

We shouldn’t have to work if we feel unsafe – we need the tools to make that a reality

It should be quick and free to take on companies who steal wages or super to get our money back – no expensive court hoops.

On 4 March the union movement’s campaign to change the rules and bring back fairness for working people went public. Thousands of ads on TV, radio, newspapers and online began to flood Australia’s cities and towns. The ads are a key part of our plan to move public opinion to wake people up to the fact that wages are stalling, insecure work is rising – and something has to be done.

ACTU Secretary Sally McManus says the ads are striking a chord because they speak to what Australians face every day.

“I’ve lost count of the number of workers who come up to me and say their jobs are being casualised, farmed out to labour hire – or they just can’t get a pay rise. Australia’s living standards are falling and it’s because the corporations have too much power and working people don’t have enough.”

ETU Victoria and parts of the CFMEU have contributed to the first phase of the Change the Rules campaign, sponsoring much of the advertising blitz.

ETU State Secretary Troy Gray says that while many ETU members are seeing pay rises through our strong industrial presence, the ETU had a responsibility to support a fundamental shift in how workers were treated in Australia.

“The right to strike is on life support, workers from almost every industry are under the pump with their wages on the slide. It’s only a matter of time before that comes for skilled workers like electricians. We’re already seeing it with 457s and attacks on the trade.”

“Our union’s state council made the determination that we would do our bit to swing the pendulum back to fairness. It’s now or never.”


Freedom to organise

  • Legalise industry bargaining
  • Stop the widespread termination of agreements by the bosses
  • Allow workers to bargain with the real boss

Secure jobs

  • End wage and supertheft by giving workers and unions the tools to enforce our rights
  • Rights for casuals to convert to permanent
  • Complete overhaul of labour hire 
  • Use government buying power to create secure local jobs
  • Paid family and domestic violence leave for all workers, so you don’t have to lose your job if you need support

Locals first

  • End the exploitation of temporary visa workers and put locals first
  • More secure jobs from free trade agreements – stop selling us out

Boost low paid workers

  • Restore penalty rates 
  • Raise the minimum wage
  • Equal pay for women, including in female-dominated industries like early childhood education
  • Awards that go up, not down

Fair institutions

  • Make the Fair Work Commission fair again by clearing out the Liberals’ employer appointments
  • Stronger, more independent umpires - End politicised commissions like the ABCC