Marching to change the rules, and walking a little taller

Jerome Small I’m near the back of the march when we moved off from Trades Hall. Turning from Russell Street into La Trobe, I can see the colossal crowd stretching to the top of the hill on William St. “Look at us all! Look up the street!”, I start shouting at my fellow marchers, waving at the crowd in...CONTINUE READING

Lessons from the Your Rights at Work campaign

Jerome Small As unions launch a round of protests under the Change the Rules banner, it’s worth recalling the history of the Your Rights at Work campaign, which concluded in 2007. Directed against the Howard government’s anti-worker WorkChoices legislation, Your Rights at Work protests were the biggest...CONTINUE READING

Victorian delegates meet for Change the Rules campaign

Jerome Small More than 1,600 unionists crammed into Melbourne’s Town Hall on 17 April for an all-union delegates meeting to launch the next phase of the Change the Rules campaign, which will involve street demonstrations around the country in coming weeks. Two hundred delegates couldn’t squeeze into th...CONTINUE READING

Building a campaign to change the rules

Jerome Small Over the coming weeks, tens of thousands of workers will take to the streets in mass rallies as part of the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ “Change the Rules” campaign. Union delegates meet in Melbourne on 17 April; they are likely to endorse a CBD rally for 9 May. Unions in other citi...CONTINUE READING

The legal noose tightens: NSW Rail union banned from striking

Jerome Small Your industrial action will be effective. Therefore, it’s banned. That’s the message from the Fair Work Commission after last week ordering thousands of NSW rail workers to suspend all industrial action. Since the order, management at Sydney Trains has been phoning workers to ask about the...CONTINUE READING

Webb Dock: diary of a dispute

Jerome Small The Melbourne waterfront hasn’t seen a dispute like this for decades. Nineteen days of round the clock picketing. No containers in or out, in defiance of two Supreme Court injunctions. A solidarity strike that shut down most of the waterfront in Melbourne, Australia’s biggest port, for the...CONTINUE READING

Defiance on the Melbourne waterfront

Jerome Small Melbourne’s waterfront came to a virtual standstill on Friday. Cranes were left idle at the country’s largest port as workers walked off their jobs to rally at Webb Dock – the scene of a developing confrontation between a union-busting multinational and the Maritime Union of Australia. Thi...CONTINUE READING

Showdown in the supply chain: Woolworths workers make gains

Jerome Small While much of Australia’s union movement scratches around for a strategy or is forced into desperate defensive battles to hang on to long established conditions, workers in fresh food and in Victorian distribution centres have achieved some significant advances. On Wednesday around 1,600 w...CONTINUE READING

A moment to savour

Jerome Small It was the first or second protest we had in Melbourne, against John Howard's homophobic ban on same sex marriage. There were maybe three or four dozen of us, standing near the statues at the State Library in a thin Melbourne drizzle. “This campaign is going nowhere”, I remember thinking....CONTINUE READING