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Workers and unions

Workers are more productive than ever – so why are we often working harder, for longer, in less secure jobs? The retirement age keeps being pushed higher but hundreds of thousands of people in work can’t get enough hours. We need to stop deregulation and casualisation, and instead use every means to improve wages and conditions for workers. Even more important, workers need to act collectively – to organise and strike against exploitation and injustice in the workplace.

What we think

  1. All economic value, and therefore all business profit, is produced by labour.
  2. When workers do not collectively own and manage their own place of work, the interests of workers and employers are counterposed. There is always a battle over the share of value produced in the economy going to bosses’ profits versus the share going to workers’ wages.
  3. Work should be socially useful, personally rewarding, safe, secure and well paid.
  4. There must be equal pay for work of equal value; workplaces and industrial laws must be free from discrimination. 
  5. Workers should collectively own and democratically control their workplaces, including the right to elect and fire management.
  6. Workers have the right to be a member of a trade union that is free from government or corporate interference, and the right to organise, to strike and to collectively bargain.

What we'll fight for

  1. Scrap the Victorian Labor government’s below-inflation pay cap for public sector workers and guarantee that workers’ wages increase at least 2.5 percent above the official inflation rate.
  2. Cap the pay of executives in the public service, government agencies, universities and state-owned corporations at no more than five times Victoria’s median full-time wage.
  3. Reverse outsourcing, privatisation, the use of labour hire and the contracting out of ongoing services, policy work and other core functions of government.
  4. Ensure there is a current, union negotiated enterprise agreement in place wherever the government provides or funds a service. This includes the entire state public sector, state funded social services and state construction infrastructure. The government should mandate minimum conditions for workers in these sectors, including a $30-an-hour minimum wage and full penalty rates.
  5. Create jobs with necessary training for all who want them, expanding public housing, renewable public energy supply, public health, public education, public farms, public transport and other public services and infrastructure.
  6. Mandate annual elections for health and safety reps in every workplace; where a union has a member or members on site, it must run the election.
  7. Address chronic wage theft by expanding and publicising Wage Inspectorate Victoria. Allow the inspectorate, unions and workers to prosecute major cases of wage theft.
  8. Increase funding for Victoria Legal Aid to assist migrant workers get full residence and workplace rights.
  9. Legislate to allow workers to picket their work during an industrial dispute.
  10. Expand to all casual employees the two-year pilot of the Sick Pay Guarantee. 
  11. Fully decriminalise sex work, and recognise sex workers’ right to organise collectively for their pay and conditions.
  12. Make May Day a public holiday.
  13. Strengthen workplace health and safety laws to improve the recognition of mental harm and psychological injury sustained at work.
  14. Bring WorkCover workplace accident insurance and compensation fully into public ownership and fund specialist support and representation services for injured workers. 
  15. Introduce measures that encourage worker control and participation in decision-making in the workplace, including:
    1. Changing the Corporations Act to ensure that workers are guaranteed equity stakes, governance rights and shares in any profits of their employing companies and trusts.
    2. Normalising and promoting cooperatives as a means of structuring private businesses, by offering tax concessions and other measures.
    3. Imposing higher payroll tax rates for businesses that are not owned and managed cooperatively.