• Calls to change weak workplace laws to protect workers
  • Government must focus on rampant lawlessness of corporates
  • No backing down from support for illegal industrial action 

After more than two decades representing the interests of working people, 10  of those as leader of ASU NSW & ACT, Sally McManus has been elected the first woman Secretary of the ACTU.

Ms McManus who herself worked in casual jobs, hospitality and retail before joining the union movement has pledged to build membership, tackle corporate greed and win major changes to workplace laws.

As leader of the ASU NSW & ACT, Ms McManus led campaigns including stopping the privatisation of Sydney Water and winning equal pay for community workers.

ASU member and community worker Danna Nelse remembers Sally fondly. The grandmother of eight has worked in and for her Illawarra community for more than 25 years. Although she loves her job helping her community’s most vulnerable people, her chosen career path hasn’t always been easy. 

“Being a single mum of three children it was a struggle surviving on the low wages. It was hard to get ahead, to pay the rent, to put a bit away for a rainy day.” 

But all that changed when community workers won long awaited pay rises in the ASU’s historic Equal Pay Case led from the ground up by McManus. Danna was one of 150,000 mostly women workers who secured real wage increases of between 23% – 45%. For Danna that meant an extra $15,000 over eight years. 

“Sally put her heart and soul into that campaign. She is a remarkable leader that listens to the people and brings workers and the community with her. That’s how we won and the benefits are tremendous. Not only do we feel valued in our roles but we are able to attract and retain staff because the pay is much better. I was able to buy a house thanks to my pay rise. I never could have done that without the stability of those guaranteed yearly increases.” 

Natalie Lang, current Branch Secretary ASU NSW & ACT said there is no one better than McManus to lead the movement through the tough challenges ahead.

“Sally has a remarkable track record of organising workers to stand up and take back their power at work. Her work with members across various sectors shows that she is able to take on bad bosses and bad governments.”

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