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NZEI and PPTA Presidents To Join Oz Workers

Friday November 11, 2005

NZEI and PPTA Presidents To Join Worker Rallies In Australia

The presidents of New Zealand's two largest education unions will join a national day of community protest in Australia next Tuesday against legislation aimed at stripping Australian workers of many of their basic workplace conditions.

NZEI Te Riu Roa national president, Colin Tarr, and PPTA president, Debbie Te Whaiti, have been invited by the Australian Education Union to take part in worker protests in Melbourne on Tuesday morning. (November 15).

These will include a march and rally and a satellite hook-up that will link workers attending more than 400 rallies spread throughout Australia.

"The satellite hook-up is being billed as Australia's largest ever workplace meeting," says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Colin Tarr.

"Debbie and I will be proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with Australian workers as they link up to protest against the most serious attack ever made on their rights by an Australian government."

The industrial relations legislation introduced into the Federal Parliament in Canberra on November 2 by the Australian Federal Government, led by Prime Minister John Howard, will: * Exempt employers who employ less than 100 employees from unfair dismissal laws. * Enable all Australian employers to strip workers of their existing pay and working conditions and place them on an individual contract, known as an Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA) with lower pay and reduced conditions. * Give employers the power to refuse to negotiate a collective agreement, even if all their employees want one, and impose individual contracts on their staff. * Scrap the current yearly review of the minimum wage rates. * Severely restrict, and in some cases ban, access to worksites by union officials * Increase fines for individual workers and unions who breach the legislation.

"This legislation is incredibly unfair to Australian workers," says PPTA president, Debbie Te Whaiti.

"It echoes the Employment Contracts Act that New Zealand workers endured in the 1990s and that drove down wages and working conditions, led to record unemployment, increased the gap between the rich and the poor and seriously damaged our economy."

"During the 1990s we saw record numbers of New Zealanders move to Australia to escape unemployment and poor wages here. Ironically, we might now see Australians making the reverse trip to take advantage of the more cooperative industrial relations regime and worker friendly policies we enjoy today," she says.

"The teachers and other education professionals that Debbie and I represent are opposed to this sort of anti-worker legislation being imposed in any country," says Colin Tarr.

"It is bad for workers, its bad for the economy, in fact it's bad for the whole country."

Tuesday November 15 is the National Day of Community Protest against the anti-worker legislation in Australia with more than 400 rallies being held throughout the country.

NZEI National President Colin Tarr and PPTA National President Debbie Te Whaiti will be attending the following protest activities in Melbourne:

NZ RALLIES AGAINST THE ANTI WORKER LEGISLATION IN AUSTRALIA Tuesday November 15

Auckland Wellington 4.30pm 4.30pm Rally outside Australian Consulate General Rally outside Australian High Commission Pricewaterhouse Coopers Tower 72-76 Hobson St, Thorndon 188 Quay St near corner Hobson St and Fitzherbert Tce near corner of Quay and Lower Albert Street

ENDS

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