The Howard Government was elected in 1996 by the Australian public. Since then the government has introduced many reforms to improve the economy and living standards of the Australian people.
Over one hundred years ago, the Australian Workers Union (A.W.U) stood at the forefront of the most significant industrial battle in the Australian workplace. It was a fight over “freedom of contract”. The pastoralists, the employers in Australia’s wool industry, wanted the “freedom” to employ non-union labour. The AWU said “no”, who rules in the workplace? Does the boss have all the control? To what extent should the boss negotiate pay and conditions with workers, or a union? The unions were not strong enough to win these battles against the united might of employers, and governments willing to use the law, police and military – to help the pastoralists win the industrial struggle.
Federation in 1901 brought a Commonwealth industrial relations system. The AWU was thefirst union to secure a federal award under the new conciliation and arbitration system – the Pastoral Industry Award. With this award, the AWU was able to ensure that workers had a say in pay rates and workplace conditions. That precedent continued to guide Australian industrial relations throughout most of the twentieth century. The AWU grew to represent workers across a range of industries – in mining and construction, in manufacturing and rural sector.
The Pastoral Industry Award has continued throughout the history of the AWU. It is still being updated, and is still facing attack from employers and hostile governments. Since the election of the Howard Government in 1996, the powers of the A.I.R.C have been reduced; workers can now sign individual employment contracts with their employer. Employers and their supporters in the Howard Government are still trying to win an industrial war that began in the 1890s.The Howard Government also wants to continue attacks on the award …