Your rights at work: Worth fighting for

c. 2005

Donated by John Ellis

Museum of Australian Democracy collection

This badge was produced by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) in response to the Howard government’s Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Act 2005.

Concerned that new industrial relations legislation would erode basic employee rights, the ACTU launched its Your Rights at Work campaign. The campaign involved mass rallies, marches, television and radio advertisements and e-activism. Through its online presence the campaign raised funds, registered thousands of people to receive updates about the campaign and initiated online campaign actions, including a petition against the reforms, targeting employers.

The Work Choices legislation was a major issue in the 2007 federal election. After winning the election, Kevin Rudd’s Labor government repealed the legislation in its entirety.

The donor of this badge, John Ellis, writes:

Wearing this union badge gave me a strong feeling of solidarity with people I know [who] are concerned about human rights and an equitable distribution of wealth for labour. Unions are about ensuring that working conditions and wages are safe and fair. Other factors that have surfaced in recent times at the May Day marches have been issues of social justice and concern for the environment in all parts of the planet. I wore this badge not only to let people know that I am a unionist and a concerned citizen, but also to remind myself of these issues.

I wore this badge to work and to events, especially those events where I sang with the Victorian Trade Union Choir. I have been a member of AMWU [the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union] all of my working life and am still in the union as a retired person.