ACTU Congress 2012
A key focus of this year's ACTU Congress, which ran from 15 to 17 May, was the crisis of insecure work in Australia today. The ACTU have been campaigning around this issue, holding a national inquiry into insecure work earlier this year. Many of our own NUW members spoke at these inquiries around the country and you can read more about their stories at our own campaign website www.jobsyoucancounton.com.au
Like our NUW campaign, the ACTU seeks to change the direction of employment relationships in Australia, so that workers can have security and dignity at work, and be able to plan for their future as a reciprocal investment for their labour. Our Union will continue to support and work in with the ACTU campaign Secure Jobs Better Future, with our own site, industry and community based campaign; Jobs you can count on.
ACTU President Ged Kearney addressed delegates of the congress about insecure work, she finished by saying;
"We want a society where everyone has the right to a job where they feel secure in their work, can grow their career, to support their family and own their own home if they wish. We must stop going in the wrong direction.
This is an issue that has taken decades to entrench itself in Australia. We won’t change it overnight. It is complex, our opponents will pour resources into fighting us, and the solutions will not be easy. But neither was Your Rights at Work."
Brian Howe, Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Insecure Work in Australia, addressed Day Two of the Congress with a report on the findings his team had compiled after speaking to casual, labour hire, permanent and contract workers; employer groups; unions; community organisations; lawyers; and other groups and individuals. Mr Howe finished his address by saying;
"The crisis of insecure work cries out for action that will translate our findings into real change for the people who need it. In many ways, our Inquiry has barely scratched the surface of the issue of insecure work.
To take our work forward, it is time for the ACTU and the broader union movement to commit to a deeper engagement with the community to tackle insecure work. There is a felt grievance in the community about the way our relationship with work has changed, and the consequences this has had for workers, their families and the community.
I’d like to thank the ACTU for commissioning our Inquiry. Rather than try to turn back the clock on the reforms of the past quarter of century, the union movement needs to provide a vision for the future of work in the post-industrial economy.
I know that you will take up the challenge."
And so what was the resolution coming from Congress 2012 in relation to insecure work?
On Wednesday 16 May, the ACTU sent out the following press release, which outlines the direction the ACTU will be leading the Union Movement in relation to the Secure Jobs Better Future campaign
Unions pledge to tackle the growing crisis of insecure work in Australia with a national campaign
Congress endorsed an industrial and legislative agenda that includes these immediate priorities:
Improved regulation of the labour market that provides all workers with a universal set of protections and entitlements;
Reducing and removing the ability of employers to shift economic risk onto their workforce; and
Measures to provide better protections to workers employed indirectly through labour hire and agency arrangements, and eliminate disguised employment arrangements like sham contracting.
NUW delegates contribute to ACTU Congress this year on several different fronts.
NUW Lead Organiser Godfrey Moase was on the panel at the ACTU Youth Congress this year and discussed the future of our movement, the current threats to working people and the different things working people can do to get collectively organised and start changing the direction that we are moving in so that people and communities become priorities in our society ahead of increased capital for a few.
NUW Organiser Monique Segan address Congress with a report on the Youth Congress. Monique was also interviewed on ABC's Lateline program, which you can watch here.
NUW Assistant National Secretary Paul Richardson addressed Congress with a report on our poultry campaign, Better Jobs 4 Better Chicken, outlining the issues that face workers in the industry. Dodgy contracting and third party labour are rife, which affects the safety and emotional and financial wellbeing of workers in the industry. The NUW has produced a Discussion Paper on the industry, and delegates across the southern seaboard have pledged their support to the campaign to fix the problems facing them at work, as well improving the quality of the chicken that we eat.
You can download the Discussion Paper here, and visit our campaign website at www.betterjobsbetterchicken.org.au
The NUW has recently released a survey for poultry members and supporters of our campaign, so people can provide feedback about what they think about the campaign so far. To take the survey, click here.
Resolutions and motions that were supported by the NUW
- Restoring balance in our retail markets - Click here to read the motion amended by the NUW and Transport Workers Union (TWU).
- Taley's AFFCO New Zealand Dispute - The following resolution, endorsed by ACTU Congress, was put by the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU) and seconded by the NUW:
“Having heard a report from the NZ Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) regarding the 80 day lock out of meat workers across multiple sites in New Zealand, that Congress condemn the actions of Talley’s AFFCO, support and stand with these 1300 workers, and call on the company to lift its lock out immediately and unconditionally and negotiate a fair and just collective agreement with the New Zealand Meat Workers Union.”
And in wonderful news this morning, Tuesday 22 May, Meat Workers Union (MWU) members in New Zealand have reached an agreement with Talley's AFFCO after a 13 week lockout of 1300 workers. This in the face of the latest push by the company, which outlined further attacks on workers rights, including:
- the removal of seniority from the Agreement and any right to be re-hired in the new season
- a seven-day roster forcing workers to work any time of any day, and
- the introduction of a system where people can be terminated if the employer determines that a worker should be, without any misconduct necessary.
Click here to read the media release from the MWU after their win today.