UNIONS NSW COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES - MEETING HELD THURSDAY, 25 MAY 2017
IN TRADES HALL AUDITORIUM, SYDNEY AT 5:30PM

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

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

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 18 May 2017 as circulated be received”.

Com. M. Kearin (NSWNMA) seconded.

CARRIED

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:

"That the minutes from the meeting of 18 May 2017 as circulated be adopted”.

Com. P. Reid (USU) seconded.

CARRIED

APOLOGIES:  Apologies were received and accepted for: J. Kiejda (President), A. Holland (ASMOF), R. Collison (AWU), M. Thomson (NTEU), G. Kelly (USU).

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:

"That the apologies be received and accepted".

Com. P. Noack (AWU) seconded.

CARRIED

GUEST SPEAKER:  Ms Lillian Bender, Winner of the 2017 Lionel Murphy Memorial Prize for Labour Law.

The Secretary M. Morey congratulated Lillian on receiving the 2017 Lionel Murphy Memorial award and welcomed her to address council.

Lillian addressed council and said “the position of young workers in today’s labour market, and today’s economy in general, is a precarious one. Many of the current government’s policies show a blatant disregard for the future of young working class people. Just to name a few of these policies, we’re faced with cuts to higher education funding, the unfettered casualization of labour, the growing expectation of performing unpaid labour, and now the cherry on top of the cuts to penalty rates for some of the most underpaid industries. Even though young people are by no means the only group to be affected by these polices and changes, I think it’s important to acknowledge that these policies are having a real impact on the political opinions of the next generation

Many young people are increasingly disillusioned with today’s political agenda and rhetoric, and there is a growing awareness that the current system is largely unsustainable. However, while discontent among young people is steadily rising, it seems that many are unsure of the avenues into which this energy can be channelled. There was a time when joining the union would have been a logical and unquestioned step for young, socially aware workers. However, in my experience, a lot of young people today either have little understanding of the purpose and function of a union, or they’ve unfortunately been influenced by negative misconceptions of unionism.

I think we can owe this lack of education or biased perception of unionism amongst young people to a number of factors. One significant factor is the neoliberal ideology which forms the foundation of our current government and economic system. This ideology is inherently individualistic and actively seeks to undo working class solidarity and the union movement as a whole. Mainstream media outlets and the education system also play their part in this process, by over-representing liberal political interests, and underplaying the importance of unions in creating a secure labour market for workers.

I believe that an important step for the future of trade unionism involves finding innovative, and possibly unconventional, ways to re-engage with young workers. Forgive me for sounding like a stereotypical millennial, but the ability of social media to both reach and influence young people cannot be underestimated. Online platforms like Facebook and Twitter are fast developing communities where not only can progressive or leftist thought be easily spread in a variety of mediums, but debate and discussion can also flourish. Some of the largest groups and pages on Facebook in particular, produce political content that reaches millions of users every week. I think this reflects that social media is now genuine platform for political engagement, with a lot of potential that hasn’t yet been fully realised.  

Something that I’ve noticed from engaging in these online communities myself, is that discussions of unionism and the presence of unions themselves are not as visible as they could be. One of the simplest ways of boosting this visibility and creating better engagement is through using humorous content. Studies have shown that humour plays a really important role in workplaces, not just because it can help workers cope with stressful or demoralising circumstances, but it also helps to build connections and increase solidarity among colleagues and across industries. This same principle is easily transferable to online spaces, meaning that unions can use funny and relatable content to reach and connect with young workers within their industry. Due to its “shareable” nature, humorous content is a simple and effective way to increase the size of an online platform, and which will in turn boost exposure to the more serious issues that unions shed light on and campaign for.

Looking at the social media practices of other organisations reflects that the use of humour to increase positive engagement and awareness is becoming more common. For example, those who follow the NSW police force on Facebook will have noticed they regularly post memes relating to policing, and have stated that doing so has helped to build a more positive relationship between the police and young people. I think that there is a lot to be learnt from examples such as these.

Given the current state of the labour market, young workers require the protection of unions more than ever before, and I think it’s important for unions to reach out to these workers. While using humour may seem simple or trivial to some, exploring new avenues for reaching and engaging young workers is, in my opinion, an important step for the future of unionism”.

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey than ked Lillian for her address and said Unions NSW would like to offer Lillian the opportunity to do her Practical Legal Training (PLT) with Unions NSW.

EXECUTIVE CORRESPONDENCE:

1.  From: Rail, Tram and Bus Union - Tram and Bus Division (RTBU):- regarding the privatisation of Sydney's Inner West. The workers at Sydney Buses were in shock last week when Transport Minister Andrew Constance announced the privatisation of Region 6 of the state's bus network, covering Kingsgrove, Tempe, Leichhardt and Burwood Depots all in Sydney's Inner West.

Only six months ago, our members were told in writing that their jobs were safe, and that the State government was negotiating a new five-year contract with Sydney Buses.  We now know that this letter was a deceitful ploy to hide the State Government’s secret transport privatisation plan.

To add insult to injury, Minister Constance publicly blamed bus drivers for this decision, claiming that privatisation was a response to customer complaints about Sydney Buses’ performance.  This is despite the obvious fact that delays to bus services in the city area are overwhelmingly caused by traffic congestion – something bus drivers can do nothing about.

The RTBU is now working with other unions affected by this decision to mount a major public campaign to keep Sydney Buses in public hands.  This campaign will include a legal strategy, an industrial strategy, an organising strategy, a communications strategy, and political strategy – all of which will be coordinated through Unions NSW.

The RTBU would like to thank all affiliates who have supported us over the past week since this announcement was made.  Your solidarity is incredibly important and valuable to our members particularly the ASU and the AMWU whose members worked alongside ours.

Further, can I also thank Sarah Davis, Thomas Costa and the Secretary for all their assistance with this matter.

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

"That the correspondence be received and Unions NSW congratulates the Rail, Tram and Bus Union – Tram and Bus Division ASU and AMWU in their actions to fight bus privatisation in NSW.

Further, Unions NSW notes the work of Sarah Davis and Thomas Costa in assisting with this matter.

We encourage affiliates to support the campaign and continue to fight against another sell off of public assets”.

Com. C. Preston (RTBU) seconded.

CARRIED

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1.  Mother’s Day Classic Congratulations to the Unions NSW team $12,445 was raised for Breast Cancer Research.

Thank you everyone for your generous support and a special thank you to Unions NSW for their kind donation of $1,000.

2.  Support the APHEDA Union Aid Abroad Raffle

Tickets are available from the APHEDA website.  Raffle draw will take place at Trades Hall – Thursday 8 June at 5:30pm

3.  Book Launch – Jeff Sparrow’s No Way But This, In Search of Paul Robeson

Join us on Thursday 15th June from 6.00pm Trades Hall Auditorium following Council meeting with a presentation and discussion about this remarkable man.  Free event please RSVP’s to ntowart@unionsnsw.org.au

4.  Save the Date - National Rally against Turnbull’s War on Workers 

CFMEU NSW Construction & General Division Tuesday 20 June 2017  Further details TBA

5.  Industrial Seminar - Wage Theft in Australia

W
hat is its extent and what we can do to stamp it out.

Thursday 22 June 2pm-4pm, Trades Hall, Auditorium

For further information contact Linda Carruthers 0448 451 450

6.  NextGen17 Conference

The ACTU Organising & OHS conferences are combined to create NEXGEN17  a conference for the whole union movement.26 to 28 June 2017 at the International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour

MEETING ADJOURNED AT 5:50PM

 

 

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