UNIONS NSW COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES - MEETING HELD THURSDAY 23 MARCH 2017
IN TRADES HALL AUDITORIUM, SYDNEY AT 5:30PM

The Acting President, Com. R. Mallia occupied the Chair.

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

OPENING OF THE MEETING:  The Acting President, Com. R. Mallia 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 16 March 2017 as circulated be received”.

Com. R. Fortescue (AMWU) seconded.

CARRIED

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:                        

“That the minutes of the meeting of 16 March 2017 as circulated be adopted”.

Com. P. Byrne (NSWNMA) seconded.

CARRIED

APOLOGIES:  Apologies were received and accepted for: J. Kiejda (President), P. Farrow (AWU), R. Collison (AWU), Alex Claassens (RTBU), D. McKinley (ETU), C. Bolger (Prof. Aus), G. Kelly (USU), J. Dixon (NSWTF), R. Brown (NSWTF), D. McKinley (ETU).

The Secretary, Com. M Morey moved:      

“That the apologies be received and accepted”. 

Com. M. Thomson (NTEU) seconded.

CARRIED

GUEST SPEAKERS:

1.   Sophie Cotsis MP, Member for Canterbury

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey introduced Sophie Cotsis MP, Member for Canterbury to address council regarding Walk for Respect.

Sophie spoke to council and said:

This week, a few days ago, it was the international day for elimination of racism and what did our PM do? He proposed to water down the Racial Discrimination Act. This a disgraceful act and I come here today to encourage unions to march with us next week in Lakemba in our “Walk for Respect” and I thank Unions NSW and Secretary, Mark Morey for all his support on this issue.”

2. Owen Bennett, President (Melbourne Branch), Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU)

Owen addressed council regarding building the relationship between organised workers and unemployed workers and said:

Organising unemployed workers is difficult territory and we are asking for support for out campaigns including Justice for Josh. This campaign is in support of the family of Josh who is a worker who was killed while working for the dole. We want the government to release the report into this death. Voice for the Voiceless. We are fighting to stop the bullying and harassment that is endemic amongst job agencies exploiting unemployed workers.

Dignity not Debt – handing out material at Centerlink agencies about unemployed workers rights.”

EXECUTIVE CORRESPONDENCE:

1.  From: United Services Union (USU):- Walk for Respect

Regarding the United Services Union seeking the endorsement of Unions NSW to call on all affiliates to encourage their members to support the current campaign to protect Section 18.C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) from the draconian changes being proposed by the Turnbull government. The Racial Discrimination Act gives effect to Australia's obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. As we well know the Act’s major objectives are to:

  •  promote equality before the law for all persons, regardless of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin, and
  • make discrimination against people on the basis of their race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin unlawful.

The Coalition government seeks to amend S18.C which is titled Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin, by removing the words offend, insult, humiliate” We believe the removal of the aforementioned words will lead to hate speech based on racism and bigotry which of course is offensive to most Australians, and never okay.

We call on the Union movement to support and attend the upcoming Walk for Respect on the 31st of March 2017 commencing at 5.00pm in Lakemba, led by Member for Watson Tony Burke, who will be joined by other State and Federal MP’s, Community Ambassadors, Unionists and the local communities of Sydney.

When local Labor Party branches and community activists organised the first Walk for Respect on the 25th of May 2015, the thousands who attended were enough to convince then Prime Minister, Tony Abbott to abandon his plans to amend S18.C, so with your support we can do it again.

We attach the Walk for Respect event information for affiliates and request all to attend this Walk as a display of opposition to the Federal government’s unacceptable agenda. The link for the Walk for Respect rsvp is http://www.walkforrespect.com.au/

2.  From: New South Wales Teachers Federation (NSWTF):- Support for the Event Walk for Respect: Keep 18C

As children in public schools across NSW celebrated Harmony Day on Tuesday, the Federal coalition government decided to introduce changes to the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) at Section 18C, which will remove the words “offend” and “insult” and insert the term “harass” – which is a higher bar for actions to proceed. 

The 21st March takes its rise from the Sharpeville massacre that took place during Apartheid South Africa which occurred on this date in 1960. This saw a military response to a civil rights movement and since that date has been acknowledged as the day that racial discrimination is maintained as a human right.

Section 18C of the RDA makes it unlawful to ‘offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate’ someone because of their race or ethnicity. Section 18C and 18D were introduced to the RDA in 1995 in response to recommendations of major inquiries including the National Inquiry into Racist Violence, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Multiculturalism and the Law Report.

The attempt to change Section 18C to allow offending, insulting, humiliating or intimidating of a person due to their race, color, nationality or ethnic origin to be lawful, must be opposed and fought at every turn.

To that end, the Walk for Respect: Keep 18C action, hosted by Tony Burke MP and supported by large numbers of community groups, will take place on Friday 31 March 2017 at 5.30pm. The walk will start at the corner of Gilles and Haldon Streets, Lakemba and make its way to Parry Park, Punchbowl for a free family BBQ. 

Student diversity in NSW public schools is currently as follows;

1 in 15 students is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (ATSI)

1 in 3 students comes from a Language Background Other Than English (LBOTE)

1 in 5 students learns English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EALD)

1 in 100 students is from a refugee background

1 in 100 students is a new arrival migrant

1 in 150 students is an international student

Apart from the huge impact on individuals, the signal to the broader community would work to decimate social cohesion and inclusion in our society, values which public school teachers, students, community and the broader union movement hold dear.

While it is a shameful day for Australia and a shameful day for the preservation of the pluralistic society that has so carefully been assembled in this country, we can highlight our commitment to our multicultural community, to community harmony and cultural respect.

Federation urges support from Unions NSW and its members for participation in the Walk for Respect: Keep 18C. 

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:

“That the correspondence be received and Unions NSW endorses the USU’s and NSW’s Teachers Federation’s call on all affiliates to support their campaign to protect Section 18.C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Section 18c prevents Australians from all background from being the target of racist hate speech.

Unions NSW encourages the union movement to support and attend the upcoming Walk for Respect on the 31st of March 2017 commencing at 5:00pm in Lakemba.”

Com. P. Reid (USU) seconded.

CARRIED

3.  From: Australian Services Union (ASU):- writes to thank Unions NSW and affiliates for their support during the No Profit From Rape campaign.

Since we launched the campaign at the Unions NSW meeting on 16 February we have had wonderful support from you, your team and all affiliates.

I am very happy to tell you that in the last 4 weeks we have reached almost 11,000 signatures on our petitions, many of which have been sent to us from affiliated union members.  Many of those members have also taken the time to participate in our rallies, DV round table and other activities as part of this important campaign.

I would now like to tell you that we will be holding an action on Thursday 8th April at 11am in Farrer Place.  We will have some extraordinary speakers and hope that as many people as possible will join us to show the federal government that there is a huge level of community support and respect for counsellors at the Rape and Domestic Violence counselling service before tenders close on 19 April.

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:

“That the correspondence be received and Unions NSW congratulates the ASU on the work they have done on the No Profit from Rape campaign.

Unions NSW encourages all affiliates and their members to attend the action at Farrer Place on Thursday 6th April at 11:00am.”

Com. N. Lang (ASU) seconded.

CARRIED

REPORTS: 

1.  Western Australian Election.

Com. N. Rich (USU) spoke and said: 

 ‘I was sent to Western Australia to train volunteers for the campaign against privatisation and to campaign against the government during the election. We trained hundreds of volunteers and we worked with the RTBU national officials to campaign across the state.

My thanks go to Com’s. G. Kelly and USU executive and officials, Steve Birney, Joel Conomos, Andrew Ryals and Shane Pinter, National Secretary Bob Nanva and Branch Secretaries, Alex Claassens from NSW, Luba Grigorovich from Victoria and Samantha Simonetis from Tasmania.

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:

That the report be received and noted”.

Com. P. Reid (USU) seconded.

CARRIED

2.  May Day 2017

Com. R. Mallia spoke and said:

Speakers have been confirmed and we are hoping to make the event as big as possible and we would like affiliates to promote the event widely.

There will be a workplace presentations distributed to all affiliates.”.

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:

That the report be received and noted”.

Com. P. Noack (AWU) seconded.

CARRIED

3   Unions NSW It’s about Jobs Campaign Launch

Com. S. Barber spoke and said:

The It’s about Jobs” Campaign was launched for the upcoming By-election on 8th April in the Central Coast on Wednesday 22nd March 2017. 60 locals attended where we had the opportunity to highlight the chronic unemployed youth levels, attacks on penalty rates and cuts to local TAFE colleges.

The campaign will be advocating to voters in the Gosford electorate to put the Liberals last when they are casting their vote.

A circular will be sent out to all affiliates asking them to assist on election day on handing out how-to-vote cards.

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:

That the report be received and noted”.

Com. B. Smith (SDA) seconded.

CARRIED

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1. InvitationWorkers’ rights at threat across Asia

Come and hear from Kalpona Akter, former child garment worker and prominent union organiser and labour rights activist from Bangladesh and Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director about the fight for worker’s rights in South East Asia.

Tuesday 28 March at 12noon – 1pm Unions NSW, Executive Boardroom,

Light lunch provided    Please RSVP Robyn Griffith for catering purposes rgriffith@unionsnsw.org.au

2.  Youth Membership DriveJoin the Union

Come and find out how joining your union can help you.

The Red Cow

Westfield Penrith, 9 Station St, Penrith   7:30pm Friday 31 March

RSVP on FB to secure free tickets bit.ly/friendlyjordies

3. Palm Sunday Rally for Refugees 2017 – We can do better! #BringThemHere

Join in the rally to step up the pressure for change. We can do better, Bring them here Rally at 2:00pm on Sunday 9th April 2017, Hyde Park North.

March to First Fleet Park, Circular Quay. Contact Ian: 0417 275 713 or Peter: 0418 312 301


4.  International Day of Mourning Service 

Invitation to join families and friends who have lost loved ones as a result of workplace accidents or an illness acquired at work.

Sydney: Friday 28 April, 11:45am for 12:00noon at Reflection Park, Darling Harbour

 

Blacktown Council: Friday 28 April, 9:00am-10:00am Blacktown Showground, Reflection Pool (near café).

Central Coast:   Friday 28 April, 11:45am for 12noon Ourimbah Wall of Remembrance, Chittaway Rd, Ourimbah

5.. Mother’s Day Classic – Walk or run - Sunday 14 May 2017

From 6am.  Domain, Art Gallery Road or Parramatta Park

Unions NSW has again entered a team in the Mother’s Day Classic 

Unionists can REGISTER for the event (make sure you click JOIN A TEAM, then select UNIONS NSW) here: http://www.mothersdayclassic.com.au/

Unionists can DONATE to the team here: 

https://mothersdayclassic17.everydayhero.com/au/unions-nsw#/?_k=lnf6ek

 We are aiming to raise $5000 for breast cancer research.

 

MEETING ADJOURNED AT 6:15 PM

 

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