Your Rights At Work – Worth Fighting For

Australian Workers Film Guide


This is an extended campaign video featuring a national day of action event at the Sydney Town Hall, which combines union speeches with segments profiling a collection of workers. Part of a multi-platform campaign against the Howard Government’s Work Choices legislation introduced in 2005, the event was broadcast on Sky Television to a large audience through pay TV and to numerous public and community venues.  As a consequence of this successful campaign and the election of the Labor Government, Work Choices was repealed in 2007.

The town hall event is presided over by John Robertson, Secretary of Unions NSW, who presents the union case and calls for a nationwide community response. A series of workers are introduced on stage, followed by a video segment highlighting each of their occupations or workplaces and their concerns with the legislation. This includes nurses concerned about losing existing protections under their award, train drivers concerned about loss of wages and conditions, the introduction of individual contracts and the consequent impact on family and lifestyle, an administrative worker re-instated through union support and existing unfair dismissal laws, a case spoken to by future ACTU president Sally McManus, a warehouse worker who refused to sign an Australian Workplace Agreement (individual contract) and instead instigated a union EBA in his workplace highlighting the right to collective bargaining, low paid childcare workers threatened with pay cuts, a delivery driver protesting the outlawing of union representation of independent contractors, university workers being pushed to sign individual contracts, and building workers singled out with surveillance, prosecution and draconian fines and even jail time. 

ACTU President Sharan Burrow then addresses the town hall meeting where she argues that basic worker rights must be protected and that workers are not commodities. Burrow talks of an international campaign by Global Unions in solidarity with Australian workers. Robertson concludes with outlining the union campaign and asking people to take up the fight.

Special Notes/Achievements

Broadcast on Sky TV and to public and community venues across the country.

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 51 mins

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