Sunday, August 19, 2018

“Jobs You Can Count On” Campaign Narrative Can Unite Workers

Ned K.


The ACTU and two of its affiliates, United Voice and National Union of Workers all use 'Jobs You Can Count On" as a campaign narrative to unite workers in action.

As with the Your Rights At Work campaign there are those within the union movement who see the end goal being an ALP win in the next federal parliamentary election.


The "Jobs You Can Count On" narrative has been picked up by the ACTU to run alongside its "Change The Rules" campaign which aims to put enough pressure on a new ALP federal government (if elected) to restore "balance" between labor and capital in the industrial laws. While some changes to industrial laws will be of benefit to workers, such as industry wide collective agreement campaigns, abolishing the ABCC, better union organizer access to workers on the job through changes to Right of Entry laws, such changes will mean little unless working class organisation and collective action "on the ground" develops a life of its own independent of the parliamentary election cycles.


From this perspective, the "Jobs You Can Count On" has real potential to contribute to building and uniting workers across many different industries and sectors. Why is this so?


Asking workers the question "what does a job you can count on look like for you?" gets a wide range of responses. Many workers would when asked this question by union organizers give similar answers about a living wage, job security while others working in poorly organised (in a trade union sense) workplaces identify respect and fair treatment as key issues. Many workers in industry sectors that rely on government funding for their wages and conditions such as public hospitals, essential service workers and child care or aged care, identify staffing levels as well as income levels that recognise the link between quality of jobs with quality of services and/or care to the community.


"Jobs You Can Count On" campaign narrative also is applicable to temporary workers such as local students, overseas students and other visa workers working in jobs that they have no intention of staying in for long term employment. However for them "a job you can count on" is where the boss does not dare swindle them out of shift or weekend higher pay rates or who is forced to recognize that they have to balance work and study time.


So no matter what the worker's situation is, asking questions about "Jobs You Can Count On" can be the start of a conversation that can connect all workers' particular situations and issues to the need for workers to join together to win. Defining the "win" will vary depending on the issues raised but asking the right questions opens up the possibility to link a group of workers’ issues to a "bigger picture" than returning an ALP government to office.


The "Jobs You Can Count On" campaign narrative has the capacity to enable workers to take action together at many different levels and thereby experience their own collective power.


In so doing they reinforce Marx's summation of workers' daily struggles when he said words to the effect that now and again workers are successful but it is the growth of the labour movement that is the real success.

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