Workers History of Struggle



There is a long history of workers’ struggles through every nation in the world and Australia is no different.

From the time when free settlers took up blocks and employed farm hands and labourers, the constant struggle between the haves and the have nots has been at the forefront of political debate.

This country was developed and made into what it is today from the sweat, blood and sometimes the lives of hard working people who were not fortunate enough to have been born into privilege.

In 1890, prior to Federation, the Australia Labor Party was founded out of this adversity and is the oldest political party in Australia.

The Queensland Branch of the ALP was founded in 1891 by striking pastoral workers under a Ghost Gum (the tree of knowledge) in the small rural town of Barcaldine. In 1899 the Labor Party in Queensland formulated a minority government, the first Labor government in the world. From these humble beginnings the ALP has grown into what it is today.

The ruling class also had their political party, the United Australia Party. However, in 1945 they changed their name and the Liberal Party of Australia was founded.

Both the wealthy pastoralists and the farm workers understood how important it was to have a political voice to advance their respective positions.  Jump forward 130 odd years and not a lot has changed.

We still have both sides of politics; the Liberal party looking after the ruling class and the Labor party putting in progressive policies and legislation to assist the workers of Australia.liberal_blurb

The Liberal party was formulated to advance the political agendas of the ruling class, the pastoralists and employers. This ideological position is the same today as it always has been – nothing was more blatantly obvious than during the John Howard years with the introduction of WorkChoices on the back of a majority in both houses. This piece of legislation was a disgrace and was nothing more than an ideological attack on working people.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is Liberal through and through! This was proven yet again when the Liberal Party unveiled the harshest budget for Australians, including:

  • Increase retirement age to 70 years old (imagine being a meatworker until you are that age)
  • Decimate Medicare and introduce a co payment
  • Reduce the Family tax benefit A and B
  • Take away the back to School Kids bonus
  • Increase fuel excise
  • Increase university fees
  • A new tax for families earning a particular amount per household

Unfortunately, in Queensland, we have an LNP state government with the annoying Chihuahua Campbell Newman as Premier and his ideals are very similar to Tony Abbotts.
Besides sacking 14,000 public sector workers, he has ripped apart the WorkCover legislation and made it more difficult for injured workers to be rightfully compensated.

…thanks Campbell Newman…

What an absolute disgrace!!!!!

In Queensland an employer now has the right to request your WorkCover history (what meatworker has not been injured at work some time in their career?). You also now have a duty to disclose any previous injuries that you have sustained. You may have injured yourself 20 years ago as a child and if you don’t disclose that injury and you happen to injure the same body part at work you may not get compensation for it.

Also, the thresholds for common law damages claims have increased.

Previously in Queensland if, through no fault of your own, you were injured at work and suffered a permanent injury you could sue your employer for negligence.

A typical carpal tunnel injury has ended the careers of a substantial number of meatworkers with as little as 1% whole body impairment.

The Chihuahua (Campbell Newman) commissioned a Commission of Audit to investigate WorkCover and make recommendations. The Commission of Audit found NO changes were needed and WorkCover was in a healthy position.  Contrary to these findings, the Chihuahua made the changes mentioned above and increased the threshold to sue for common law damages to above 5%.

What does this mean???

A worker in Queensland now through their employer’s negligence can be injured at work and unless their injury has a 6% permanent impairment they have no right to a common law damages claim.

As mentioned previously, the Union has seen careers ended with 1% permanent impairment. Now in Queensland, through absolutely no fault of the worker, unless your injury reaches 6% permanent impairment you will be thrown on the scrap heap with no ability to be compensated.

Unfortunately the media aren’t on the worker’s side either, so most of these changes go unreported.  Recently 30,000 unionists, in Brisbane alone, marched in the Labour Day celebrations and the major newspaper for Queensland did not write one word on it – not one!  So, unfortunately, workers are not aware of a lot of these issues or have a very limited knowledge of due to the silence of the media. In some cases, the first a worker realises the legislation has changed is when they are injured.

A lot of workers hate politics. However, every worker has to understand what a monumental impact the party in power has over our working lives and our family’s future. So next time you go to a polling booth to vote think what party is going to represent you and your family better.