While the issue of workers rights fell out of favour with the media after John Howard was voted out of office the situation is still far from ideal. Many provisions of the hated ‘Work Choices’ laws were never entirely undone by the Federal Labor government and student unions are still a long way from where they were prior to Howard’s ‘voluntary student unionism’ laws being passed.
In the few weeks it has been in office the NSW Liberal government has already taken numerous steps to turn back the clock on workers rights. They have refused to support the case for equal pay for workers in the community services sector. The female dominated work force in this sector receive an averge 30% less take home pay than their colleagues in male dominated industries and this is a prime contributor to the great disparity in earnings between men and women that still pervades our society today.
Most recently, in the first sitting week of parliment since they took office, the Liberals have introduced legislation to prevent unions prosecuting occupational health and safety breaches.
Given this background, May Day remains as important as ever, despite the low profile, and I’d urge everyone against becoming complacent about how safe their rights at work are in this state and country.