Published: 14/11/2022
Category: The Bulletin
Published: 14/11/2022
Category: The Bulletin

From Brisbane to Burnie, teachers to techies, all across the country workers are out on the ground, campaigning, picketing, walking off the job. They are sick of miserly pay that doesn’t even remotely meet the cost of living. They want better working conditions and they want them now. 

Apple Workers

The union tide turning in America is hitting our shores – multinational companies that were often touted as being untouchable Goliathan union-busters have had to succumb to the demands of their workers. Collectivism works!  

These last few weeks, workers in Australia’s Apple stores voted down an agreement that offered the largely young workforce substandard pay and conditions (Apple – by the way – is worth $2 trillion), as well as ignoring workers’ demands for one weekend a month.  

Around 3,500 workers voted on the vastly inadequate agreement, 68% of whom said a big resounding NO!

Tasmanian Workers

Tasmanian public sector workers – including paramedics, cleaners, teachers and public servants among others – staged strikes across the state. Hauntingly, the story is the same across industries: they are overworked, underpaid and under resourced. Thousands have turned out for what’s been touted as the largest strikes in Tasmania in four years. 

Tasmania’s inflation is the highest in the country, and their incomes are the lowest. For many, rent along with other expenses, are becoming nightmarish to keep up with. 

Workers and the unions that represent them are using every tool in their belt, as state premier Jeremy Rockliff refuses to intervene, and allow for their demands be heard and met. 

Workers exposed to silica

It may be difficult to believe but thousands of Australian workers across lots of different industries clock onto a job every day that exposes them to hazardous materials without sufficient protections.  

You’ve most likely heard of asbestos. You’d know that if a wall in your house was known to contain it, that it’s advisable to completely avoid contact, and have it removed by a specialist pronto. 

The fibrous material was commonly used in manufacturing and construction in Australia. But it was realised that exposure to the material was extremely hazardous. After a long, arduous and public battle, products containing asbestos were banned, the companies using it were held to account, and the workers exposed received some compensation. 

But what about silica? 

This week, a delegation of workers who were exposed to dangerous levels of a material called silica met with ministers Tony Burke, Mark Butler and Ged Kearney. They are urging politicians to take immediate action and prevent the avoidable workplace injuries and deaths caused by silica exposure.  

These workers live with a painful and fatal lung disease called silicosis, caused when workers in industries such as stonemasonry, inhale respirable silica dust. 

It is projected that if nothing is done to address the issue now, as many as 100,000 Australians could develop silicosis as a result of exposure, and 10,000+ could develop lung cancer. 

So, these brave workers are campaigning to ensure that does not happen. 

Power to the people 

Although these are three very disparate stories – different in location and in industry – they share a strong common thread: working people in this country are sick and tired of a lack of dignity and agency in their workplaces. They want not only more pay, but the occasional free weekend so that they can plan for some time outside of their jobs.

They want their workplaces to retain workers instead of burning them out and pushing them away. And they want to return home safely – mentally and physically – not to be treated like nothing but labour whose lives are expendable.

Do something powerful


All across the country it’s Action, Action, Action!

All across the country it’s Action, Action, Action!