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Date: Sun, 24 Mar 1996 15:07:20 CST
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU<
Subject: Workers around the world 3/28/96

Workers vs. new right-wing gov't

Reprinted from the March 28, 1996 issue of Workers World newspaper

Australian workers are sending a clear message to the new right-wing government there: Social gains will not be dismantled without a struggle.

In early March, 2,500 health and social-service workers walked out on strike in support of 600 of their union sisters and brothers locked out by the Department of Health and Community Service. The 600 child-protection workers were locked out after taking job actions in support of wage demands.

The government is offering the workers a 7-percent raise--well below the 10-percent earned by other state health workers.

The next week, 96 percent of public-school teachers in the state of South Australia voted to carry out a one-day strike at all kindergartens, elementary and high schools. The workers are fighting for decent pay. South Australian Institute of Teachers President Janet Giles called the potential strike "the biggest industrial action this state has seen in 15 years."

Meanwhile, unions in New South Wales are fighting to defend hard- won union rights against a serious employer offensive. The Tweed Valley Fruit Processing Company is attempting to whittle away basic gains like sick days and limits on the working day.

Last year, Tweed Valley implemented a plan allowing its non-union workers to take a cash payment instead of sick days--essentially giving workers an incentive to work while ill. Tweed workers now claim they were pressured into accepting the sick-day buyouts.

Unions, sensing a dangerous precedent, lodged a protest with the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. The commission overturned the Tweed arrangement.

Now unions are trying to defend their victory against company attempts to appeal the matter to the federal government. The new right-wing Liberal government has announced its support for the company, giving the labor struggle a political character.