UNIONS NSW COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES 3RD SEPTEMBER 2015
IN TRADES HALL AUDITORIUM AT 5:30PM

The President, Com. M. Issanchon occupied the Chair.

PRESENT:   M. Lennon [Secretary], M. Morey [Assistant Secretary].

OPENING OF THE MEETING:  The President, Com. M. Issanchon 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. Lennon moved:-

“That the minutes from the meeting of 27th August 2015 as circulated be received”.

 Com. G. Millar seconded.

CARRIED

The Secretary, Com. M. Lennon moved:-

 “That the minutes of the meeting of 27th August 2015 be adopted”.

 Com. B. Smith seconded.

CARRIED

CREDENTIALS:

From: The Australian Education Union appointing Kylie Davis in place of Theo Bougatsas for tonight’s meeting.

From:  The Public Service Association of NSW appointing Anthony D’Adam in place of Steve Turner for tonight’s meeting.

From:  The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association appointing Dennis Ravlich in place of Brett Holmes for tonight’s meeting.

The Secretary, Com. M. Lennon moved:-

“That the credential be received and the delegate welcomed.”

Com. R. Martin seconded.

CARRIED

APOLOGIES: Apologies were received and accepted for: E. Maiden, R. Collison, J. Kiejda, M. Kearin, B. Holmes, W. Baxter, R. Martin, P. Byrne, P. Millard.

The Secretary, M. Lennon moved:-

“That the apologies be received and accepted”.

Com D. McKinley seconded.

CARRIED

GUEST SPEAKER:

The Secretary, Com. M. Lennon introduced Anna Uren, from the NSW Teachers Federation and the Unions NSW Women’s Committee.

Com. Uren spoke about her work with the Unions NSW Women’s Committee and how this has been a valuable part of her induction as a union officer, to draw on the experience of other women union officials to be better able to address the needs of Federation’s members and the capacity of the broader union movement to represent its membership.

The Women’s Committee is an important tool in ensuring that issues affecting women workers are addressed within workplaces and unions. It played a key role in the development of the Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave scheme, which in the few years since its implementation, has seen positive impacts for women’s connection to the workforce and time spent at home with babies. The Department of Social Services’ own evaluation of the program, published at the end of 2014, found that:

PPL had a clear effect of delaying mothers return to work up to about six months after the birth of their baby, and then slightly increasing the probability of returning to work before the baby’s first birthday.

In other words, the scheme brought Australian families closer to the WHO recommended 6 months leave with the associated benefits for babies and new parents, while also slightly improving women’s workforce participation after having children.

Paid Parental Leave is now under threat. Around fifty percent of new mothers look set to lose access to the scheme. As much as the Abbott Government would like to paint these women as double-dippers sitting pretty on huge salaries, analysis shows otherwise. The Women and Work Research Group has conducted modelling which shows that nurses, ambulance service workers, teachers and retail workers are likely to be the hardest hit by the changes, leaving many with income to cover only 7 to 12 weeks worth of living expenses after the birth of a child – up to 19 weeks short of the 26 weeks recommended by the World Health Organisation. Hardly the fat cat double dippers some are trying to make them out to be.

It is not only the cuts to payments which are a concern. The Government is also proposing to remove the employer paymaster role in the payment of the scheme. This is an aspect which was introduced some time after the introduction of the scheme itself and plays a key role in ensuring women are able to return to work after parental leave. Allowing employers to get out of paying the leave because it is inconvenient sends a terrible message about these women workers. It makes it that much easier for employers not to reemploy people after parental leave, because they have not had to maintain contact with the employee over the course of the leave.

The ACTU and Unions NSW are in the midst of campaigning to oppose these cuts, and the Women’s Committee can play an important role in this. Whether your union has 2 percent or 92 percent women members, these cuts to paid parental leave will have an impact on families across the board. This should not just be a fight for those highly feminised and unionised workplaces who have negotiated these entitlements over many years. 

ABS statistics show that women now make up half of all union members. Given the fact that women typically participate in the workforce at a lower rate than men, this actually means that women workers are now more likely to join a union than male ones. This broad statistic clearly does not reflect the exact pattern of employment and union membership in every workplace or union, but it does suggest a greater capacity of unions to address workplace issues which impact specifically on women workers.

The latest ACTU Women in Unions report provides data which shows higher levels of union representation for women than does the ABS. There are a number of possible reasons for this. But it is important to remember that not all unions participated in this survey, and that potentially, it is unions with higher proportions of women members who are more motivated to complete the survey.

Unions structures outside of the workplace do not always reflect this membership base, with the report finding that:

Women remain underrepresented at almost all levels and especially where power is most concentrated – that is in elected positions.

The numbers continue to improve, but the issue is not just at the leadership level. Women are underrepresented in most areas of union activity. Combined with the fact that women continue to make up a greater and greater proportion of union members, this means that unions have a potentially significant pool of untapped capacity in organising women workers.

The Women’s Committee is an important way of achieving this. Ensuring your union is represented will create opportunities to tap into that potential organising capacity, be it in 2 or 82 percent of your membership.

If more women workers = more women unionists = more women activists then we have stronger unions.

The Women's Committee meets the 3rd Wednesday of each month.

The Secretary thanked Anna for her address encouraged all affiliates to get involved in the Women's Committee.

EXECUTIVE BUSINESS CORRESPONDENCE:

1.  From: The
Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation NSW (ASMOF): - regarding the recent statements made by the Minister for Health about the Northern Beaches Hospital and Ambulance Service.

The Northern Beaches Hospital project deed has been reviewed by ASMOF and we have concerns about job security and terms of employment for our members.  We expect other Unions will have similar concerns.

ASMOF at time of writing had not received a satisfactory response to our queries about the effect of the new Aeromedical contract for Retrievalists.

The Secretary, Com. M. Lennon moved the Executive Recommendation:-

“The correspondence be received and Unions NSW condemns the Baird Governments ideological campaign of privatising the operation and provision of essential public health services under a veil of secrecy.

Unions NSW also calls on the Baird Government to commit to ensuring the ongoing job security and terms of employment for employees being forced to transfer to the new provider to maintain employment.

Unions NSW will convene an urgent meeting of affected affiliates to discuss and consider a unified approach to this significant privatisation of our health system”

Com. B. Morgan seconded.

CARRIED

2.  From: The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU):- advised Unions NSW that the NSW Liberal Baird Government will privatise Heritage and Construction Services of the Public Works in October. This decision had been made behind closed doors with no consultation with workers and no transparency. There had been no cost-benefit analysis because it will cost more to outsource these highly skilled jobs than keep them in the public sector. This is a purely ideological decision that threatens our at risk iconic heritage buildings, while also leaving maintenance of public buildings, such as housing and schools, at the mercy of the private sector.

A world-class apprenticeships program that includes an indigenous intake is also under threat at a time when the Baird Government is calling out for young people to take up trades. Heritage and Construction Services workers are proud of their jobs and the skills they bring to them.

The CFMEU calls upon Unions NSW to condemn this and to support the CFMEU’s campaign by circulating our petition to affiliates. 

The Secretary, Com. M. Lennon moved the Executive Recommendation:-

“The correspondence be received and Unions NSW condemns the privatisation of Heritage and Construction Services of the public works by the Baird Government.  Unions NSW also note this privatisation may lead to instigating a private monopoly on the provision of sandstone in NSW which will result in higher costs ultimately paid for by the taxpayer.

Further Unions NSW, Plumbers and ETU in campaigning on this issue and in particular the work of CFMEU organiser Paul Camell in seeking to protect the interests of members but also the interests of NSW taxpayers."

 Unions NSW urges affiliates to support this important campaign circulating and signing the CFMEU petition.

Com. R. Mallia seconded.

CARRIED

3. From: The Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees’ Association (SDA):- regarding the exploitation of vulnerable international students at 7-Eleven store.  The SDA commends the recent Four Corners report for exposing the systematic exploitation of international students working at 7-Eleven for $10 an hour.

This story is helping to break the veil of silence on this shameful behaviour. Workers on student visas, trapped into breaches of their visas, fearful of deportation and too scared to tell anyone. They don't tell their stories for fear of what will happen to them. Previous attempts to organise them have hit this veil of silence. This is now slowly changing.

The SDA has set up a national helpline for 7-eleven workers to confidentially call for assistance on 131SDA, and a website where they can submit their story and receive assistance, 24sevenhelpline.com.au. They are shameful stories of students working shifts of up to 21 hours straight for per hour. The stories are not restricted to 7-Eleven with student visa workers sharing their story from other businesses as well.

The SDA is working with 7-eleven workers to prepare underpayment and general protection claims. We are also working closely with the Fair Work Ombudsman on these matters. However, an atmosphere of fear remains, particularly the fear of deportation.

The SDA has called for an amnesty for any 7-eleven workers who breached their visa rules whilst caught up in this disgraceful and widespread scam of wage fraud. This is needed to allow exploited workers to speak up.

The SDA has hundreds of members who are international students working for reputable employers who receive the correct pay and entitlements. These international students have a voice through their union and are treated and paid properly in their workplaces.

The SDA condemns 7-eleven for the widespread abuses that have occurred in their stores. 

The Secretary, Com. M. Lennon moved the Executive Recommendation:-

“The correspondence be received and Unions NSW condemns the exploitation of workers, in particular vulnerable international students. 

Unions NSW commends the SDA for their quick response in seeking to protect overseas students on visas and other employees as they speak out about the systematic exploitation of working people.

Further, Unions NSW will write to Minister Dutton seeking an amnesty for any 7-eleven worker who has breached their visas rules by coming forward with their case to ensure the full extent of these abuses are identified and addressed."Unions NSW calls on all affiliates to publicise the confidential assistance available to 7-eleven workers through the helpline and website.”

Com. B. Smith seconded.

CARRIED

REPORTS:

1.   Broken Hill Visit

The Secretary addressed council on his recent Broken Hill visit to attend the Barrier Industrial Council (BIC) where he was invited to speak on the Build a Better Future and other campaigns being run.

Broken Hill is still a highly unionised town.  It is also the “second best” Trades Hall in NSW and the country. 

Broken Hill Trades Hall is in need of repair and refurbishment of the heritage building and is looking for assistance to fund the project which possibly could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. This year the Trades Hall Trust was knocked back for a federal government heritage grant. 

The photo of the Secretary from the local paper is taken in the Bill O’Neal room which has the history of the 1909 Miners Strike. BHP have never attended any function or event there.

The Secretary, Com. M. Lennon moved:-

 “That the report be received and noted”.

 Com. A. Claassens seconded.

CARRIED

2.   Build a Better Future

Assistant Secretary, Com. M. Morey reported on Build a Better Future Campaign (BBF) Doorknock weekend to be held12th & 13th September and the significance of recruiting officials and members to doorknock the targeted eight seats to get the message out to the community.  The door knock schedule has been distributed to all unions.

The launch of We are Union will take place on 8 September 2015 in Newtown. Unions are encouraged to get their officials and members along to these events.

The Secretary, Com. M. Lennon moved:-

 “That the report be received and noted”.

Com. R. Martin seconded.    

CARRIED 

 Door Knocking Schedule – Weekend 12 & 13 September 

Seat

Date

Venue

Contact

Banks

Saturday 12 Sep 10am - 2pm

Revesby Workers Club

2B Brett St, Revesby

Maryanne Stuart

0406 460 683

Gilmore (1)

Saturday 12 Sept 11.30am -4pm

Joyce Wheatley Community Centre, Hindmarsh Park, Kiama. Access via Collins Lane

 

Lisa Kremmer

0455 557 112

Gilmore (2)

Sunday 13 Sep  10:00am -1:30pm

North Nowra Community Centre, 7 Hood Close, North Nowra

Lisa Kremmer

0455 557 112

Lindsay

Saturday 12 Sep 12:30pm – 4pm

Penrith Paceway Function Centre

Cnr Mulgoa Rd, Ransley Sts, Penrith

Mary Yaager

0408 931 899

Macquarie 

Saturday 12 Sep  9:30am -2pm

Springwood Sports Club 
83 Macquarie Rd, Springwood

Aaron Reynolds

0418 661 706

Page

Sunday 13 Sep 9am -12:30pm

Lismore City Bowling Club
Spinks Park Molesworth St Lismore
Followed by Family Day BBQ in Spinks Park.

Sharyn Usher

0478 959 687

 

Reid

Sunday 13 Sep  9:30 -1:30pm

Concord RSL

Nirranda Street, Concord West

Alison Rahill

0414 316 839

Central Coast

Sunday 13 Sep  10am – 1:30pm

Kariong Progress Hall

Woy Woy Road, Kariong

 

Aarin Moon

 0411 215 430

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1.   We Are Union Launch:  Tuesday 8 September, 5:30 for 6pm 
      The Bank, 324 King St Newtown.  To be launched by:   Ged Kearney, ACTU President.
      Guest speakers: Mark Lennon, Secretary, Unions NSW, Sally McManus, Vice President, ACTU.
      Light finger food provided.     

2.   The APHEDA Annual Fundraising Dinner  Wed 9th September at 6pm
       AERIAL UTS Function Centre (UTS Building 10)  Level 7, 235 Jones St, Ultimo

3.   Unions NSW - 2nd Equal Pay Dinner Wednesday 16 September 2015
    
  The Athenian, 11 Barrack Street, Sydney $65pp - RSVP to Rose Docwra via rdocwra@unionsnsw.org.au

4.   Retired Unionists – Call to Action   Retired Unionists  Call to Action   Monday 21st September- 10am to 2pm - Trades Hall,         Sydney.  Lunch will be provided - contact Alison Rahill 9881 5923

5.   Safety and Injured Workers Conference  Unions NSW will be holding its Annual Safety and Injured Workers Conference
      Thu 22nd & Fri 23rd October 2015.  Please register your attendance with Rose Docwra at rdocwra@unionsnsw.org.au

6.   Safety and Injured Workers Conference Dinner - Raising funds for the Injured Workers Support Network
      Thursday 22nd October 6pm for 6:30pm start  The Red Room  99 York St, Sydney. $140 per head.  All profits go to the Injured          Workers Support Network

7     Next week a Motion of Condolence will be held for John Whelan

MEETING ADJOURNED AT 6:00 PM

Tagged: Minutes

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