UNIONS NSW COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES - MEETING HELD THURSDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 2017
IN TRADES HALL AUDITORIUM, SYDNEY AT 5:30PM

The President, Com. J. Kiejda occupied the Chair.

PRESENT:  M. Morey [Secretary], E. Maiden, T. Costa [Assistant Secretaries].

 

OPENING OF THE MEETING:  
The President, Com. J. Kiejda opened the meeting and in doing so recognised the traditional owners of the land on which the meeting was held, The Gadigal People of the Eora Nation.

MINUTES:
The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:

"That the minutes from the meeting of 7 September 2017 as circulated be received."

Com. P. Noack (AWU) seconded.

CARRIED

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:

"That the minutes from the meeting of 7 September 2017 as circulated be adopted."

Com. M. Kearin (NSWNMA) seconded.

CARRIED

APOLOGIES: Apologies were received and accepted for: A. Whelan (NSWNMA), R. Fortescue (AMWU), A. Holland (ASMOF), D. McKinley (ETU), C. Bolger (Prof. Aust), M. Thomson (NTEU), J. Dixon (NSWTF), R. Mallia (CFMEU).

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:

"That the apologies be received and accepted."

Com. M. Whaites (NSWNMA) seconded.

CARRIED

GUEST SPEAKERS:  Charline Emzin-Boyd, Aboriginal Education Co-ordinator, NSWTF and Zachary Wone.

Com. Emzin-Boyd spoke regarding the Unions NSW Indigenous Committee which had much involvement in the 2007 Federal Election with flyers encouraging Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples to vote.  She passed on an apology from Com. Kevin Tory who couldn't be here tonight.  Com. Emzin-Boyd spoke about the role she plays at the NSW Teachers' Federation, engaging regularly with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander members via email.  There are 1200 on her email list and the emails cover a range of matters, not just union business.

Com. Emzin-Boyd noted how proud she was of the Welcome to Country Flyer form the NSW Teachers' Federation had developed.

When Com. Emzin-Boyd asks other unions how many members they have that are Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people, many don't know.  Com. Emzin-Boyd wants to encourage unions to look at their membership forms and to identify those members and build a relationship with them.

Com. Emzin-Boyd is looking forward to working with the Secretary, Com. M. Morey and Unions NSW to strengthen the Indigenous Committee.

Com. Emzin-Boyd introduced Council to a representative of the next generation of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander activists, Com. Zachary (Zac) Wone.

Com. Wone noted he was a rank and file MUA member and Secretary of the MUA Sydney Branch Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Committee.   Com. Wone noted the Committee was getting active again this year with monthly meetings and a BBQ at La Perouse for rank and file members.  He noted that the MUA has a strong connection with the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander community.  Com. Wone said he had big shoes to fill in terms of the activists that have come before him.  He noted there's a real opportunity with the current leadership of the union movement and the launch of the First Nations Workers Alliance, which is a campaign against CDP.  This was launched at the MUA last month.  There is plenty we can do.  Com. Wone is keen to work with Com. Emzin-Boyd and Com. Tory on the Unions NSW Indigenous Committee.  Equality is union business.

Com. Emzin-Boyd referred to the survey to be sent out regarding identifying Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander union members.

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey thanked the guest speakers and moved that a Planning Meeting for the Indigenous Committee be set for Thursday 26 October 2017 to ensure we are talking union in all communities and having a 5-year plan to drive activism.  All unions were encouraged to ensure they are represented at this meeting.

EXECUTIVE CORRESPONDENCE:

!. From Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union (CFMEU): 
The CFMEU welcomes the resignation of Nigel Hadgkiss as the head of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), formerly the FWBC.

Late last year, the CFMEU commenced Federal Court proceedings against Mr. Hadgkiss for disseminating false information as to union right of entry in breach of s503 of the Fair Work Act.  Mr Hadgkiss was due to give evidence in the proceedings on Monday.  Instead, Mr. Hadgk8iss finally admitted that he had acted in breach of the law.

Documents produced in the case showed that Mr. Hadgkiss was made aware of Legislative changes made by the Labor government shortly before it lost office.  These changes gave increased rights to union officials in exercising their entry rights, including the default right to use lunch rooms to hold discussions with workers.  Despite being told about the new legal position, Mr. Hadgkiss explicitly directed that his staff continue to publish incorrect information about union entry rights.  This included posters which were downloaded and posted on numerous building sites.  FWBC inspectors were trained in the correct legal position, but were told not to reveal this to other people unless specifically asked.  The incorrect material continued to be published on the internet for nearly two years.  Mr Hadgkiss frequently encouraged employers to "empower" themselves against unions by knowing their rights, and referred them to the information published by the FWBC, including the false information published on its website.

Under Mr Hadgkiss, the FWBC returned to what he called its "core business", including pursuing unions in relation to right of entry.  Mr Hadgkiss did not even pretend to be interested in breaches of the law by employers affecting employees' wages and entitlements.

Mr Hadgkiss was instrumental in bringing numerous "prosecutions" against the CFMEU. its officials and members.  Many of these prosecutions were in relation to exercise of entry rights, and some were extremely petty matters such as attending site without having given an entry notice and then not leaving when requested by an employer.

Mr Hadgkiss actively campaigned for the reinstatement of the ABCC and for the anti-union and anti-worker laws which were recently passed by parliament.  He waged a PR war against the CFMEU, joining with government ministers and many parts of the media in railing against its "lawlessness", which really amounted to, at its most serious, taking strike action not permitted by Australia's industrial laws.

The CFMEU is pleased to see the departure of Mr. Hadgkiss.

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved the Executive recommendation:

"That the correspondence be received and Unions NSW congratulates the CFMEU on seeing off Nigel Hadgkiss.

Hadgkiss was out to destroy unions, workers' rights and their safety. He was instrumental in directing his staff to publish incorrect information about union rights, directing FWBC inspectors not to reveal correct information about union entry rights and keeping incorrect material on the internet for two years.

Unions NSW joins with the CFMEU in expressing our delight in seeing Nigel Hadgkiss depart."

Com. Brian Parker (CFMEU) seconded.

CARRIED

2. From Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) 
On behalf of the RTBU and our predecessor unions and all the other unions who were involved in the Great Strike of 1917, I would like to thank you and your team for the work you have done in helping us remember this momentous event in our history.  Particularly, thanks should go to Linda Carruthers and Neale Towart for their support of the 1917 Committee and everything they have organised thus far.

All of the events so far have surpassed expectations and everyone who has attended one of the events have come away affected by what they have seen and heard and of course one of the most important lessons is that even in defeat you can win.

Next weekend, the 23rd and 24th September will be the last opportunity for unionists to learn about the event by coming along to Bathurst where we will be greeted at the Bathurst Railway Station with the commemoration display.  You will then have an opportunity to view Ben Chifley's steam engine and the house where he grew up.

This will be followed by the annual 'Light On The Hill' dinner, with this year's special guest speaker Tanya Plibersek.  It would be appreciated if we could do one last shout out and request that unions consider sending along a small delegation to experience the event.

Please find attached details of how to book tickets on both the train and at the dinner.

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved the Executive recommendation:

"That the correspondence be received and Unions NSW would also like to thank unions who have contributed to the successful celebrations for the 1917 Great Strike thus far.

Unions NSW is proud to promote next weekend's Light on the Hill Dinner to all affiliates and their friends."

Com. A. Claassens (RTBU) seconded.

CARRIED

3. From: Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association (SDA);  In response to yesterday's misleading and politically motivated article in the Daily Telegraph that falsely claimed the SDA negotiated an Agreement that left young workers worse off, I wrote a letter on behalf of the NSW Branch of the SDA.  A shortened version of the text below was sent to the Daily Telegraph.  The letter has yet to be printed in the paper.

Australian McDonald's workers best paid in the World.

Michaelia Cash is being deliberately misleading in her statements about McDonald's wages and her comparisons.  She misleadingly compares McDonald's wage rate with an Award that did not apply to them at the time the Agreement was made.  When the McDonald's Agreement was made with the SDA the wages and conditions were superior to, and left employees better off overall, compared to the relevant Award.

Michaelia Cash's concern for workers' wages and penalty rates is not genuine, they are weasel words of a politician hunting for a headline.  When legislation came before Parliament to overturn cuts to penalty rates for fast food workers, some  Coalition MP's crossed the floor Michaelia.

Cash voted in favour of cutting fast food workers penalty rates.

The SDA is currently appealing the cuts to penalty rates in the Federal Court in two weeks' time.  We would welcome Minister Cash intervening in the case to support the SDA's appeal and seek to restore penalty rates for fast food workers.  But I doubt she will, just like her weasel words in yesterday's article she is not genuinely concerned for fast food workers' wages.

Australian McDonald's workers are the best paid McDonald's workers in the world. When it is time to bargain for a new Agreement the SDA looks forward to securing a new Agreement with wages and conditions that will keep them as the best paid McDonald's workers in the world.  This will include wages and conditions that will be better off overall compared to the relevant Award that would otherwise apply to them.  When that is done we will welcome a genuine comparison rather than this political point scoring.

The article also implies that McDonald's employees automatically have union fees deducted from their pay as a matter of course, with particular reference being made to young workers.  Michaelia Cash is again either misinformed or being deliberately misleading.  Employees only pay union fees if they decide to join the SDA.  For any young workers employed at McDonald's we go a step further, they are under 18 and fill out a union form,  we send a letter home to their parents or guardians letting them know and giving them two weeks to discuss with their son or daughter whether they wish to proceed with SDA membership.  This is a fair and consultative process.  Every worker, regardless of  age has a right to join a union.  Michaelia Cash may not like that parents and their children have made a choice to be SDA members, but it is their right to make that choice.

McDonald's workers in Australia are the best paid McDonald's workers in the world.  When the SDA negotiates a new McDonald's Agreement we look forward to extending even more hard-won Union conditions from any Award that would otherwise apply to them.  We are fighting for better penalty rates in the Federal Court whilst Michaelia Cash is hunting headlines.  All workers have the right to join their union.  I encourage all workers to join their union, that is how we will get even better wages and conditions.

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved the Executive recommendation:

"That the correspondence be received and Unions NSW is appalled but not shocked at Michaelia Cash deliberately making misleading statements about McDonalds' wages and the SDA.  Australia's Employment Minister should be about standing up for workers instead of pursuing an ant-in ion agenda."

Com. B. Smith seconded.

CARRIED BY ACCLAMATION

4. From: Independent Education Union (IEU):  I write to bring you and affiliates up to date with our current dispute with the Catholic employers in NSW and the ACT.  You may recall that the employers were denying access to arbitration without their consent in our proposed enterprise agreement.  As a consequence, the Union applied to the FWC for Protected Action Ballot Orders on 2 August. 

Our employers opposed those orders on the basis they were proposing a multi-enterprise agreement which prohibited protected action forcing the IEU to argue that the 11 employers were a common interest and therefore prohibited from a multi enterprise agreement.  They sought, and were granted almost three weeks to prepare a case and at the 11th hour, made an application to have the matter dealt with by a Full Bench hearing. This application led to a further delay, however the application was refused.

The matter was finally heard on 31 August and a decision in favour of the Union handed down on 8 September with the PABOs issued.  Due to the nature of our industry and AEC commitments, ballots are unlikely to be completed before 20 October.  Providing notice of stop work action once the ballots are declared means no protected action can occur before 25-26 October.

Protected industrial action which requires workers to wait almost three months to take that action clearly demonstrates that the laws in this country are broken.

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved the Executive recommendation:

"That the correspondence be received and Unions NSW asks all affiliates to support the IEU in condemning the Catholic employers who are opposing arbitration and for their use of unconscionable delaying tactics preventing workers exercising a fundamental industrial right to protest.

Unions NSW notes this is an example of broken industrial laws which must be fixed."

Com. M. Northam (IEU) seconded.

REPORTS:

1.  Equal Pay Dinner
Com. K. Minter reported on last night's Equal Pay Dinner.

Clea Smith spoke to a packed room of unionists at our Annual Equal Pay Dinner about this year's historic win for women cricketers.

Just last year, the minimum retainer for an elite female cricketer playing at the state level was $7,000, and unlike their male colleagues, female cricketers did not have access to injury payments, prize money, match payments or captains' allowances.

Clea and the work of the APA got everyone worked up about pay inequality.

Thank you to all who attended.  The dinner will be back again next year to reflect on another 12 months of union wins and challenges in the fight for pay equity.

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:

"That the report be received and noted."

Com. A. Rudman seconded.

CARRIED

2. Maitland Hospital
Com. Brett Holmes (NSWNMA) said that today a petition opposing privatisation of Maitland hospital had been presented to Parliament.  45 members of the community travelled by bus to be at Parliament for the debate together with other unions.

Com. Holmes paid tribute to Jenny Aitchison, MP, Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, Shadow Minister for Small Business, Luke Foley, MP, Leader of the Opposition, the HSU, ASMOF and Unions NSW, in particular, Com. M. Yaager.

The debate is very important.  Yet the Government paid little respect to the petition.  The community want a public hospital.  The Health Minister gave a poor excuse for privatisation - saying a not for profit organisation will run the hospital.  Not for profit organisations still want a surplus.  So, there is still a profit motive.  The fight continues for Maitland and Shellharbour hospitals.

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:

"That the report be received and noted."

Com. B. Holmes seconded.

CARRIED

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1.  Ryde-Macquarie Teachers' Association Annual Diner
Frida 27 October 2017 6:00pm for 6:30pm
At Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club, 117 Rydedale Road, West Ryde.
Guest Speaker: Unions NSW Secretary, Mark Morey
RSVP's by Friday 20 October
Bookings:  Janine Kitson: Janine_kitson@tpg.com.au
Telephone:  (02) 9498 2404 or (02) 9498 7608 or 0428 869 623

2.  Labour Day Mass
5:30pm - Wednesday 4 October
St Patricks Church Hill, 20 Grosvenor Street, Sydney
_________________________________________

Labour Day Dinner
6:30pm for 7:00pm - Wednesday 4 October
- Parliament of NSW
Guest Speaker:  Sally McManus, ACTU Secretary
Tickets $130 per person - go to Eventbrite website: Labour Day 2017

3.  Union Pride
Tonight after Council, please join Union Pride in the Atrium for a poster blitz around the city in support of Marriage Equality.
For further information contact Salim Barbar on 0417 286 482

MEETING ADJOURNED AT 6:18PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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