above: Former Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union organiser, Don Sutherland
In this article guest writer Don Sutherland argues the case for a strategy to reverse the decision of the Fair Work Commission - promoted by Employers - to slash Penalty Rates for Hospitality and other workers. He foresees it will have to be a long struggle led by workers - and workers cannot just sit back and depend on the Parliamentary Labor Party. It is a strategy which - amongst other things - will involve targeting specific employers so they do not take advantage of the FWC's decision and exploit their workers.
How should the workers’ movement respond?
Rationale for a strategy
A working class based approach to our strategy
The first big strategic decision for all union leaders no matter what level of the union movement we are active in: should we leave the reversing or whatever of the decision to heroic leaders, those at the “top” of the union movement and especially those in the ALP and the Greens in the parliament? Will calls to the government for the government to change the statute re-build our numbers and our power?
Industrial strategy leading the way
How long will it take to win – the trajectory for winning?
The second big strategic decision is a notional time frame that this campaign will take 2 to 5 years to win. It would be nice to win sooner but expectation that we can – in my view – misjudges the power of those who want this decision against the current power of those of us who oppose it.
Penalty Rates Plus
This will be a campaign for all workers because the huge gap between award rates and union negotiated agreement rates is contrary to the fundamental rationale for unionism, and should not be acceptable to any unionist.
The focus of the whole movement must turn steadily (although not absolutely) to AWARDS and away from enterprise agreements.
This article was also published at Don's blog - which can be found here: