Many Kiwis see Australia as a land of high wages and great opportunities. But as the Australian economy has slowed down, workers there have had to struggle to maintain their relatively good terms and conditions, even in well-unionised industries. Employers have put up increased resistance over the renewal of Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBAs), the main form of collective agreements in Australia.
To get a result, workers took a 21-day strike at Laing O’Rourke, 18 days at Thiess, and two weeks at Lend Lease. In response to the strong resistance from employers there has been a lot of worker determination to secure agreements, particularly ones which include a subcontractor clause and job security benefits.
In early October, construction workers won an eight-week strike at Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane. Early in the dispute, union officials had been served with injunctions by Abigroup (part of Lend Lease), and prevented from accessing the site, so they called in Bob Carnegie, a community organiser and a former Builders Labourers Federation stalwart. The strikers had to work around the anti-union laws and build new forms of organisational support for their struggle. Read the rest of this entry »