Making our voice heard in marginal seats

Terry Barron, a mental health nurse and secretary of the NSWNA branch at Wyong Hospital, has become involved in the Your Rights At Work campaign on the Central Coast after attending a training workshop organised by the ACTU and Unions NSW.

Unions are organising in marginal seats like Dobell, which covers the Central Coast, to ensure that workers’ voices are heard in the next federal election and that politicians realise their job security can also be put on the line if they don’t support workers’ rights.

With the federal government’s IR laws greatly restricting the right to industrial action, including the right to strike, community and political action will be the only way of defeating the new laws says Terry.

‘Look at France,’ he said. ‘When the government there tried to bring in similar IR laws, mass community action made them back down.’
Terry says he found the ACTU training inspiring and recommends it to other nurses who want to get involved with the campaign.

‘You feel empowered, that together we can change things. The ACTU gave us lots of information about the new laws and ideas about how we could talk about this issue to different people so it was relevant to them.’

Unions are targeting four other federal seats in NSW besides Dobell: Paterson on the North Coast, Lindsay in Western Sydney, Greenway near Parramatta and Eden-Monaro in the state’s south-east.

If you are interested in attending future ACTU workshops or in getting involved in Your Rights At Work committees in these electorates, contact Rita Martin at the NSWNA: rmartin@nswnurses.asn.au.

Campaign materials available
The NSWNA has a number of Your Rights at Work campaign materials to help you get the message out about the federal government’s IR changes.

If you want a campaign bumper sticker, armband or T-shirt, contact Glen Ginty at the NSWNA. Ph: 02 8595 1234, gginty@nswnurses.asn.au

‘These laws are an insult’
Terry Barron says he is personally mortified at the extent of these laws. ‘They will extend their unfair tentacles into every facet of our existence. As a union member, it is my belief that we need to act and act now. We have established a Your Rights At Work subcommittee at Wyong hospital made up of many different unions. We hope to develop it as a vehicle to spread the word so as many people as possible are brought up to speed on the impact of these new IR laws.

‘I became a nurse because I care. I care about my fellow people and I care about the community in which I live. I also care that I live in a country where I’m guaranteed certain rights. Two of these rights are the right to fee speech and the right to be treated fairly in the work place. I’m about to lose one of these and I fear the other may not be far behind. I believe the new IR laws are enough of an insult to move the ordinary person into action if the true impact of these laws is understood.

‘Apathy changes nothing. If you’re not in a union, get into one because if you don’t then you’re exposed and vulnerable to unfair treatment. If you know someone who is not in a union speak to him or her and spread the word. There is much at stake.’