PM to tell unions to push ahead on wages

Kaaren Morrissey |

The prime minister will show his support for global trade unions at the forthcoming labour congress.
The prime minister will show his support for global trade unions at the forthcoming labour congress.

The prime minister will issue a rallying cry to global trade unions, saying the movement must push against those who have “ingrained ideological” objections to fair pay.

Anthony Albanese will address the Fifth World Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation in Melbourne on Monday.

More than 1000 trade unionists representing about 200 million workers from 130 countries have gathered in the Victorian capital to set the global agenda for the movement for the next four years.

In his speech, Mr Albanese will praise the movement’s campaign to improve the conditions and rights of workers in Qatar and underscore their contribution to society.

“This congress gives us an opportunity to celebrate a tradition of fairness and social justice and representing the best interests of the working people who power our nations’ economic success,” he will say.

“And in doing so, we recognise that these rights, these protections and these opportunities are never down to good luck, or happy accident or a spontaneous act of generosity.

“Every centimetre of progress, every degree of every improvement, has been earned and fought for, through generations of solidarity and sacrifice.”

But there was more to be done to tackle new challenges to the rights, dignity and security of working people driven by “those who have an ingrained ideological objection to workers being paid fairly for their contribution”.

“We know there are always those who say that any improvement in workers pay, any improvement in the status quo, will see the sky fall in,” he will say.

“They say it every time, they are wrong every time.

“And we will push ahead like we do, every time.”

Mr Albanese will also announce his Labor government will table in the federal parliament the International Labour Organisation’s Convention No.190.

The convention, which is a sort of treaty, recognises the right of workers to an environment free from violence and harassment.

This would be the government’s first step to ratifying the convention and affirming the right of Australians a work culture based on “mutual respect and dignity”.

“Our government views this as a commitment to equality, to safety – and to economic reform,” he will say.

Both houses of the federal parliament will begin sitting for the final two weeks of the parliamentary year on Monday.