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Written by: Ned K. on 31 October 2021


The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and affiliated Unions are starting a "Job Security - Worth Fighting For" campaign narrative, coinciding with the lead up to the coming federal election.

Surveys conducted by the ACTU and many Unions show that job security is a highly important issue for workers across pretty much all industries and occupations. The stand downs, job losses and cuts to hours of work experienced by millions of workers during the Covid 19 pandemic of the last two years have taken the level of job insecurity to new heights.

What is "job insecurity"? It takes many forms. Casualization, labor hire, fixed short term contracts, sub contract work, insufficient hours of work, low wage jobs, so-called gig economy jobs are some of the most common forms of job insecurity.

However, under capitalism, even so-called secure jobs such as in the public service or large manufacturing businesses turn into insecure jobs without warning. 

For example, outsourcing and/or privatizing of government jobs, trade wars leading to reduction in production and job losses or loss of regular overtime or even cutting back from three shifts to one day shift can see workers moving from relative job security to job insecurity within a very short space of time.
The ACTU is hopeful that it has found an issue that the majority of workers (especially young workers, new migrant workers and women workers) feel strongly enough about and see as "worth fighting for"!

'Worth fighting for" has been included in the campaign narrative to try and replicate the success of the "Your Rights At Work, Worth Fighting For" campaign which succeeded in throwing out the reactionary Howard Government in 2007.

Job security in its many different forms is an issue that affects millions of workers far beyond the 9% union membership density of the private sector workforce in Australia. 

It is a campaign narrative that is likely to win support from millions of workers, especially if linked to the insecurity for working people caused by the impact of climate change.

For young people secure jobs for the future is inseparably linked to the issue of environmental sustainability.

Within the leadership of the Secure Jobs Worth Fighting For campaign on the eve of a federal election, there will no doubt be an opportunist element who want to steer the campaign to a dead end if a Labor government is elected in the coming election. 

The stated intention of the campaign is that it is a longer-term campaign to unite millions of workers to define in common struggle what an Australia with secure jobs will look like and what changes to the current set up need to be made.

The initiators of the campaign say that the extent of the changes needed for secure work for workers will depend on the development of the strength and power of the grass roots movement in workplaces and communities. This is encouraging to hear.

The ACTU formally represents far less than 50% of workers at any point in time due to the low union membership density. However, Unions in general have a fluid membership. Many workers not currently in a union may have been in one a year ago or may be in a workplace shortly where there are union members and union rank and file leaders. 

The success of this latest ACTU campaign getting off the ground will largely depend on the level of involvement and leadership of active workers in their workplaces and communities and build from the ground up. 

Any attempt to confine the activities of such a stated campaign to marginal Liberal or National Party electorates should be opposed as most workers, union members or not, know that to reverse the trend of insecure work will need a social movement that extends far beyond the establishment's three year election cycle.



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