On the Perth to Mandurah railway project, the workers stopped work when the heat reached 37.5 degrees Celsius. When that happened the workers headed home. The next day they found out that the union representative was sacked because he did not follow proper procedures with management. They decided to go on strike, but if they did, they would be up for fines according to new industrial relations laws. They returned to work after two weeks, but the Australian Government handed $28,000 fines to individuals for going on strike. They were given a subpoena by the Australian Building and Construction Commission. It was the Government penalising the workers for striking. Malcolm took time off from work to tour the states and to speak out about the damaging impact of industrial relations laws on a worker’s life. Workers who went on strike also faced the danger of being blacklisted by the Government for government work. The message is that the workers need to stick together to fight the Howard Government, otherwise the next generation of workers would not have any bargaining abilities. They need the union to fight for them. He was fired under new re-structuring laws, because his services were no longer needed.
Author: J Bird, 2023