Campbell Newman’s sacking spree has coincided with enterprise bargaining periods for key groups of public sector workers—state school teachers, ambulance workers, firefighters and core agency public servants.

As if mass sackings weren’t doing enough damage, in negotiations the government has sought to attack workers by attempting to remove no forced redundancy clauses from agreements to make sackings easier, and remove conditions, such as restrictions on class sizes, parental leave, and penalty rates out of agreements altogether.

The result is Queensland’s biggest union rallies since WorkChoices, with multiple nighttime rallies of teachers and supporters, and a rally of core public servants that drew upwards of 7000 people.

A Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) combined union delegates’ meeting on August 1—the first since 2007—voted for a “day of action” on September 12. Union members around the state will rally and hold workplace events in support of the QCU’s “Workers’ charter for Queensland.”

Newman has rushed through new industrial laws to hamper unions’ ability to strike. Electoral commission ballots are now required for strike action and Ministers have the power to “cancel” industrial action altogether in certain circumstances.

Together, the union that represents public sector workers, has submitted more than 300 ballot applications for industrial action, and the teachers’ union plans to strike. These strikes will be crucial in kicking off the fight against Newman’s cuts.

Progressive unionists and NGO workers have established a new organisation, Queensland UNCUT, to build community support for unions’ industrial campaigns, and to ensure the community is mobilised in protest against the cuts.

Uncut is off to a flying start. 170 attended our initial launch meeting, and more than 70 people attended the first organising meeting. We have called a community protest during parliament’s sitting time on August 22 and will mobilise for the September 12 union day of action.

Emma Ross

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