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What do you mean, 'Closing the Loopholes'?

Digital Solidarity


True solidarity knows no bounds. Race and gender, age and ability - nothing will divide us in the pursuit of dignity and equality. Not even, in our strange new world, time and distance.

2020 taught us a lot of things, especially how much we hated learning new things as the result of a pandemic. One other lesson, however, was that just because we couldn’t be physically together - arms locked on a picket line or marching in the streets side by side - our ability to express our solidarity was not hindered. 

Megaphone - a digital campaigning & fundraising platform - was set up for precisely this purpose. Online petitions and fundraising aren’t meant to replace any of the things workers, unions and progressive organisations have traditionally done, but they’re a great way to strengthen and expand on the things we already rely on. 

Here are six ways digital activism has made a real difference in the lives of working people:

  1. ASU: 1 - Government: 0

    Just THIS WEEK, the Federal Government announced it would reverse its decision to cut funding to homelessness services by over $50 million. The cuts would have seen hundreds of workers in frontline homelessness services lose their jobs and many critical services cut. No less, at a time when homelessness services are experiencing a surge in demand due to the impact COVID-19 on jobs and on our economy.

    The Australian Services Union’s petition to stop the cuts gained massive support and drew focus on an issue that was not being talked about by anyone else.

    In a very cut-and-dry case of caving to pressure from the public and the workers with the best insights into effective service delivery, the Government did exactly what the petition asked for: it reversed the cuts and properly funded frontline homelessness services.

    A great win, for workers and for the community.

  2. The Secret Sauce is Solidarity

    When workers at McCormicks, who make sauces for several popular fast food chains, went on strike in March of this year, they were taking a real leap of faith. They were staunch and strong, but walking off the job brings a lot of uncertainty with it.

    Scott, the United Workers’ Union delegate at the site, told Megaphone Journal that there was no guarantee of success and the stakes were high. "We're a single income family," he said. "And on top of that we're having to pay for some medications and therapy for our little boy. The debts start to rack up when you've got no money coming in.”

    A fundraiser was started by UWU to collect money for the workers taking action, and within a matter of days over $80,000 was raised and distributed directly to workers missing out on pay cheques. The relief was massive, and when the workers soon reached an agreement with the company, it was in no small part thanks to the union members who got around these workers and helped them, each day, to last one day longer and be one day stronger.

  3. Small But Mighty

    Sometimes solidarity doesn’t need to be massive, it just needs to be a clear and present challenge to those in power. Like a boulder teetering on the edge of a cliff, this petition which garnered only six signatures had the potential to cause a huge headache for the boss… who caved immediately.

    MSS Security workers at Perth airport complained for months that the drinking water provided to them was undrinkable - it "had sediment in it", "tastes metallic", "tastes like bore water". Their demands for clean drinking water were ignored. That is, until management became aware of the petition.

    The problem was fixed immediately, almost as if doing so didn’t take much at all, and it was just lazy management that led to the problem in the first place.

    Remember, ANYONE can start a petition on Megaphone. (Well not anyone. We keep an eye on it to keep the neo-nazis out, and we enforce solidarity rules.) But you can start a petition right now to demand changes you want to see in your workplace. Never underestimate the power of bad publicity!

  4. Where Tech Companies Will Not Tread

    With no laws forcing gig economy companies like Uber and Deliveroo to provide insurance cover for their drivers and riders in Australia, the families of workers receive no compensation in the event of being killed in the workplace. Last year, five such workers were tragically killed on Australian roads.

    With many of these workers supporting families both here and in their native countries, the grief of their loss was compounded by the sudden inability to make ends meet.

    The Transport Workers’ Union didn’t miss a beat. They stepped in to pass the hat, and were able to raise $26,220 from union members and the community. This money was delivered to the families of those workers killed on the road.

  5. Real Improvements in Worker Safety

    Greg Ballantyne is a former stonemason who developed scleroderma as a result of years of exposure to silica dust in his workplace. With the rise of engineered stone being used more and more in Australian homes, the dangerous substance is being made more dangerous by an industry seemingly unconcerned with safety measures. Dry cutting of the material was common practice, and exposure levels were rarely tested, if ever.

    “I wouldn’t have developed this illness, had my workplace taken safety seriously,” he told petition signers. “Switching out silica for an alternative material, or using proper extraction techniques and being provided with appropriate PPE if there was still exposure could have stopped me from developing scleroderma.”

    Not wanting any more workers to suffer the same fate as his, Greg started a petition through Megaphone to see the legal exposure limit of airborne silica dust lowered from where it had been for decades. It got over 10,000 signatures, and was sent to Safe Work Australia, who makes the decisions on setting exposure limits.

    In the end, the exposure standard was not lowered to the level that Greg and other activists/experts wanted, but it was halved. On top of this, several other legal changes were made which will see stonemasons living longer, healthier lives. All because Greg was able to raise awareness and build support through some clever online organising. 

  6. Help Get This Ad on TV

    This last one is something you can get involved with right now!

    Scott Morrison handed down his budget last week. This budget, and any budget by the Liberal party, is dangerous for workers.

    We need your help to make sure as many people see this ad as possible before the next election.

    We've already made the ad. Now we’re looking to raise $50,000 to get this ad on the air. Together we can ensure Scott Morrison's failures and constant scapegoating are front of mind at the next election.

    To make sure it gets done, Victorian Trades Hall Council will match the first $25,000 in donations. Chip in now.

So what are you waiting for? 

Start a petition, or get in touch with the Megaphone team today!

True solidarity knows no bounds. Race and gender, age and ability - nothing will divide us in the pursuit of dignity and equality. Not even, in our strange new world, time and distance.