Worth Fighting For - Book

‘Worth Fighting For: Inside the ’Your Rights at Work’ Campaign’ by Kathie Muir

This book tells the story of the ACTU’s ‘Your Rights at Work’ campaign against Work Choices, the largest, most expensive and most sophisticated political campaign ever mounted in Australia, and one with a decisive impact on the 2007 federal election.

When Labor won the November 2007 election it was widely accepted that the Your Rights at Work campaign, against the Howard Government’s Work Choices legislation was a key to the victory. Public opposition to Work Choices grew from the commencement of the ACTU’s television advertising campaign in June 2005 and remained high throughout the period until the election. This was despite enormous Government expenditure on advertising promoting Work Choices and its amendment of the legislation to include a ‘Fairness Test’.

Your Rights at Work was an unprecedented campaign in Australian political history. Longer, more expensive, and implemented across a wider range of media, worksites and community venues than any previous political campaign by any other non-party group, YRaW also attracted a wide range of people as active supporters of the campaign. Many of these people had never been active in union campaigns previously, some were retired or were not union members. The campaign in the 25 marginal seats across the country was a key means for ordinary community members to find out about the laws and to express their support for a better and fairer society. People from all walks of life were outraged by the meanness of the legislation and the Government’s lack of a mandate for its implementation. Some older workers’ were concerned for their children and grandchildren’s future, horrified at the thought that rights they and their parents had struggled and sacrificed to win might be lost to future generations. Some people joined the campaign and changed voting habits of a lifetime because they themselves were sacked unjustly and found they no longer were covered by unfair dismissal legislation.

The unions’ YRaW campaign laid the groundwork for the ALP election victory just 12 months ago. Through this campaign people all over the country came to realise the full impact of Work Choices and it changed their views about the nature of the Howard Government. Any concerns the Government was arrogant or unfeeling were consolidated by the realisation of that Work Choices would mean for their own families and for future generations.

The book ‘Worth Fighting For: Inside the Your Rights at Work’ campaign provides a lively record of the development and implementation of the campaign. Through interviews with union leaders, along with participant observation, Kathie Muir traces the innovative nature of the television and paid media strategies, the workplace and community mobilising strategies. Activists involved in the campaign tell their stories of becoming involved and what the campaign meant to them. The coordinators of the community campaigns in targeted seats talks about the response they received from local groups, the keys to success in their areas and their conviction that community alliances are critical to future union campaigning in Australia.

This is a lively and accessible book that provides an invaluable record of the most important political campaign ever undertaken by the Australian union movement and is an essential resource for union education and training.


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Worth Fighting For - Book
Worth Fighting For - Book