The rules are broken – it's time to #changetherules

Change the Rules is the ACTU’s umbrella campaign to address a growing number of issues facing Australia’s working people, those who are looking for work and those who have retired.

As it has in the past, the Australian union movement is using the strength of nearly 2 million union members to campaign and build a better society for all.

Income inequality is greater than at any time in the past 76 years. Profits are up 40 per cent in the last year, but wages growth is the lowest on record – the profit and wages shares are entirely out of kilter. The top one per cent of the population own more than the bottom 70 per cent combined. There are over 1 million Australians who are underemployed and want to work more. And so the sad litany goes.

The rules are broken

The rules are broken for working people. The industrial relations system under Fair Work is flawed (Queensland state teachers are employed under a fairer state IR system). Australia is in breach of long standing international treaties about the right to unionise and the right to strike that it voluntarily signed. It has a rap sheet of breaches from the International Labour Organisation that would make a career criminal proud.

Enterprise agreements can be terminated by employers, reducing the pay of employees by 40 per cent back to the minimum rates of the award. The levels of employer lock-outs of workers from their place of work is growing.

Wage theft has become a business model. We’ve seen the case studies of workers paid below the minimum wage; of workers being expected to work for free; of workers being taken to the ATM after they get paid to hand pay back to the employer; of superannuation entitlements not being paid to funds. The enforcement of pay and conditions under Fair Work cannot keep up.

The Turnbull government wants to give companies a $65 billion tax cut. At the same time, companies are shifting profits overseas to tax havens, and companies with billions of dollars of revenue pay no tax at all. Forty-eight millionaires paid no tax at all, not even the Medicare levy, in 2014-5. The rules are broken.

Change the Rules

The rules have to be changed in the interests of the vast majority of Australians. If the federal government will not change the rules, the ultimate task will be to change the government.

The campaign covers:

  • inequality
  • tax avoidance
  • the right to take industrial action
  • wage theft
  • changes to enterprise bargaining
  • maintaining penalty rates
  • secure work
  • higher minimum wages
  • gender equality
  • temporary visa workers
  • the Australian Building and Construction Commission
  • workplace health and safety and the legacy of asbestos
  • the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers.

To these can be added the campaigns for the social wage: for education; for health; for a fair safety net for the aged, the unemployed and the disabled; for government services.

To sign up

You can sign up to join the Change the Rules campaign through the ACTU website ( and be part of the union movement’s campaign for a fairer and better Australia.

The rules are broken; time to change the rules.

Graham Moloney                                                                                                                General Secretary

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 8, 3 November 2017, p8