Your Rights at Work victorious!

On the 24th of November 2007, the union movement delivered a massive defeat to the anti-worker Howard government.

Opposition to John Howard’s attacks on the fair go was so strong that he even lost his seat– just the second sitting Prime Minister to do so.

John Howard was addicted to attacking working people throughout his 11 years in power.

In 2004, the Howard government won re-election, and control of the Senate.

It used this power to introduce “Work Choices”, one of the most far-reaching attacks on workers in our history.

Work Choices aimed at reducing union influence and made it more difficult for workers to come together to negotiate with employers through their union – especially by increasing the amount of workers on individual agreements.

It drastically reduced the protections workers had against unfair dismissal, and removed the ‘No Disadvantage Test’ against Awards that had previously existed for all other Agreements.

The union movement launched a community campaign, Your Rights at Work, to insist that working people deserved better.

In November 2005 the union movement organised a massive national day of protest, with at least 546,000 people hitting the streets on one day alone.

At other rallies in the lead up to the federal election hundreds of thousands continued to march.

Activists and volunteers established community groups in marginal electorates. They went door to door with petitions, handed out leaflets at train stations, and plastered whole suburbs with campaign signs.

Everywhere you went you could see Your Rights at Work events being held from local community barbeques to information stalls to mass rallies in the cities.

Howard joined a long line of right-wing politicians who learnt an important lesson of Australian politics: conservative governments come and go, but the union movement will always be here, fighting for working people, and our right to a decent life.

More from Australian Trade Union Institute

Laurie Carmichael – a legendary unionist

Laurie Carmichael – a legendary unionist

July 26, 2022

A guest post by Ted Clayton. Ted is the author of an award-winning thesis in…

Read More

60th Anniversary of the Labour History Society

60th Anniversary of the Labour History Society

Guest post by Bobbie Oliver (Federal Vice President ASSLH; President of Perth Branch, ASSLH). 2022…

Read More

The first Sydney Mardi Gras – and the hidden history of LGBTIQA+ unionists!

The first Sydney Mardi Gras – and the hidden history of LGBTIQA+ unionists!

June 22, 2022

On Friday 24 June we celebrate the anniversary of the first Sydney Mardi Gras, which…

Read More