UNIONS NSW COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES - MEETING HELD THURSDAY, 15 MARCH 2018
IN TRADES HALL AUDITORIUM, SYDNEY AT 5:30PM

The Acting President, Com. P. Reid occupied the Chair.

PRESENT:  Morey (Secretary), T. Costa, (Assistant Secretary).

OPENING OF THE MEETING:
The Acting President, Com. P. Reid 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.

APOLOGIES: Apologies were received and accepted for J. Kiejda (President) E. Maiden (UNSW), P. Noack (AWU), J. Dixon (NSWTF), R. Mallia (CFMEU), C. Bolger (Prof.Aust),) J. Quessy (IEU), B. Smith and R. Tonkli (SDA).

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:  

“That the apologies be received and accepted.” 

Com. M. Buttigieg (ETU) seconded.

CARRIED

GUEST SPEAKER: 

The Secretary M. Morey introduced Mr Antonio Stango the President of the Italian League of Human Rights.  Mr Stango has organised and chaired hundreds of events in many international forums, including at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Mr Stango spoke and said I have studied human rights in many countries, and we are asking for solidarity from the international workers movement with human rights and people seeking freedom. 

The Secretary thanked Antonio for his address and said we have concerns for freedom all over the world including the rise of the far right in Europe and Italy.

EXECUTIVE CORRESPONDENCE:

1. From the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) regarding the Seasonal Worker Program.

Media reports over the past six months have revealed an alarming number of deaths and widespread exploitation of workers as part of the Turnbull Government’s Seasonal Worker Program. 

Our thoughts and condolences are with the families of the workers many of them from Pacific Island nations who have lost their lives.

Reports also detail squalid living conditions, chronic underpayments and harsh treatment, with workers on the program being exploited by unscrupulous labour contractors. Many accommodation providers are also gouging fees and charges from workers which means many workers return home worse off than they came.  All workers in Australia deserve safe and fair working conditions wherever they come from. 

It is unacceptable that these vulnerable workers should suffer such appalling treatment.

AWU calls on the Prime Minister and the Minister for Employment to take these systemic examples of worker exploitation seriously.

Given this is a Commonwealth employment program, Unions NSW demands that a full judicial investigation be held into these deaths and the operation of the Seasonal Worker Program.   

Unions NSW and affiliates stand together with our Pacific Island Nation brothers and sisters. We expect justice for workers on this Program and their families. Given the impact of Cyclone Gita on Tonga and other recent cyclones in the Pacific, now more than ever remittances from workers abroad are important in the rebuilding of Pacific nations. 

Affiliates are invited to express their solidarity by attending a memorial service for workers who have died or been injured in the Seasonal Worker Program at Strathfield Uniting Church 11 Carrington Avenue, Strathfield from 4.00pm on Saturday 14 April. 

Should you require any further information regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact Mark Fagan, National and NSW Branch Chief of Staff via mark.fagan@nat.awu.net.au or Shane Roulstone, National Organiser via shane.roulstone@nat.awu.net.au

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

“That the correspondence be received and Unions NSW expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the workers who have lost their lives.

Unions NSW supports the AWU in its demands for a full judicial investigation be held into these deaths.

Unions NSW stands in solidarity with the AWU and will promote the memorial service for workers on Saturday 14 April 2018.”

Com. A. Rudman (RTBU) seconded.

CARRIED

2.  From:  Rail Tram & Bus Union (RTBU) regarding the 2018 Mardi Gras.

The RTBU writes to congratulate Unions NSW and, in particular, the Union Pride team for the fantastic work that they did organising the Union Pride, ‘Rosie the Rivetter’ themed float in this year’s Mardi Gras Parade.

As we know the parade is one of the worlds’ most joyous and spectacular celebrations of the LGBTQI community and it was a privilege to be one of the eighty participants to represent the NSW Union Movement in the 40th year of the parade, significantly a year in which we celebrated the victory of marriage equality.

It must also be noted that other unions’ floats included NSW Nurses and Midwives and the Teachers Federation along with NSW Labor.

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

“That the correspondence be received and Unions NSW also congratulates Union Pride and all unions that participated in this year’s Mardi Gras.”

Com. S. Davis (NSWNMA) seconded.

CARRIED

3. From:  The Australian Workers Union (AWU) regarding Jobs for Women Film Fundraiser – Thank You

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere appreciation for your contribution to the Jobs for Women Film Fundraiser.

It was a fantastic evening during which we raised over $12,000.  these funds will go towards the production of a feature documentary the explores the famous Illawarra campaign during 1980-1994.  This campaign helped secure the right for women to work at BHP’s Port Kembla steelworks and in Australian blue-collar jobs generally.

The AWU (formally FIA) was heavily involved in supporting the Jobs for Women campaign through our Port Kembla Branch.  I am incredibly proud of our Union’s involvement in this historic campaign.

I congratulate the amazing efforts of our members, officials and in particular the brave activist women who never gave up.  It was a pleasure to have them in attendance on the night.

The struggles of women involved in the campaign means that today hard-working Australian women are treated equally when they apply for jobs.

Once again, on behalf of the AWU National Executive and the Jobs for Women Film Group, I would like to thank you for helping us make a positive difference.  Your support encourages our continued commitment to reaching our fundraising goal.

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

“That the correspondence be received and Unions NSW congratulates the AWU on their successful fundraising dinner held recently in Wollongong. 

Unions NSW encourages affiliates to support the film production by going on line to donate  https://gofundme.com/jobs-for-women-film-fundraiser”    

Com. J. Primrose (ASU) seconded.

CARRIED

REPORTS:

1. International Women’s Day
Com. K. Minter reported on the International Women’s Day march held on 10 March 2018.  She said over 3,000 women turned up to say ‘end the silence. End the violence in the workplace, campus and home’.

Com. Minter advised in the 12 months leading up to the march, 51 women had been killed. At the same time the Federal Government has privatised the national sexual and domestic assault hotline 1800RESPECT and refused to provide women with access to paid domestic violence.

Speakers at the march included:

  • Helen Dallimore was the MC. She is an actor, writer and director and a member of MEAA.
  • Jan Primrose from the Australian Services Union spoke on the importance of universal access to 10 days paid domestic violence leave.
  • Jules Kim from the Executive Director of the Scarlett Alliance spoke about the experience of sex workers and the need for respect and safety in the industry
  • Michelle Zhou from Asian Women at Work spoke about the experience of migrant women workers and told her own personal story of exploitation. Michelle has since joined her union the NUW and is working to improve the conditions for herself and her colleagues
  • Trish Marinozzi spoke about her own experience of workplace sexual harassment and the difficulties women face when speaking out.

2. On Demand Workers Rally

Com. K. Summers reported on the rally, held Wednesday 14 March to protest exploitation in the gig economy. Food delivery workers from Foodora, Ubereats and Deliveroo marched with unionists in order to protest continued abuse of riders and their working conditions.

Riders speaking at the rally complained that despite being classified as independent contractors, they are being treated like employees in that they have their work tightly regulated and are even made to work shifts. The independent contractor classification has allowed these companies to continue to degrade pay and conditions. Some workers reported making as low as $6 per hour. Many riders also complained about how dangerous the work was, yet most were not provided any workers compensation or insurance while at work.

Overall the rally was well attended and brought the unscrupulous practices of the gig-economy into the national spotlight.

3. EXXON

The Secretary, M. Morey introduced Steve and Troy from Esso, Longford to speak:

Steve spoke to council and said “we worked for a company that contracted for Exxon, the contract was terminated and we were dismissed.  We were told that we could have our jobs back if we agreed to a 35% pay cut and agreed to a stand down clause that would lave us on the oil rig without pay when equipment needs repairs.  That’s why we need to change the rules so that it doesn’t happen to other workers.”

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1. Human & Labour Rights Crisis in South East Asia Forum
tomorrow Friday 16 March 12noon to 1:30pm Trades Hall
Chair:  Kate Lee, Union Aid Abroad APHEDA

2. Enough Is Enough - Stop The TAFE Cuts
Join us in NSW’s most marginal seat, to fight against these cuts.
This Sunday 18 March 2018 at 1pm at Padstow TAFE, Raine St, Padstow

3.  Womens Leadership Event – Wednesday 21 March 2018
Time:   9:45am to 12noon
Where:   Level 3 Executive Boardroom, Unions NSW
Guest speaker Ellen Dorsey, Director of the Wallace Fund and human rights activist.

4. Palm Sunday Rally and March
The theme is Refugees are Welcome here, Not Manus, Not Nauru.
The march will be held on Sunday 25 March at 2pm at Belmore Park (opposite Central Station) and march to Victoria Park.

5.  The MUA will be hosting a family fun day to mark the 20th anniversary of the Patrick Dispute:
When: Saturday, 7 April 2018 from midday
Where: M Club, Corner Malabar Road & Mons Avenue, Maroubra.

The event will recognise the enormous struggle waged by the Patrick MUA membership and the broader working class nationally and internationally, its impact both positive and negative, and reflect on the attacks on workers, their families and communities that continue to this day.

A Facebook event can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/156971691630857/

For further information please contact Mahla Conomos at MUA,  9265 8444 or mahla.conomos@mua.org.au

6. Safety & Workers Compensation Conference 2018
Thursday 26 & Friday 27 April 2018 commencing at 9:00am to 4:30pm each day.
The Conference will be held in the Auditorium, Ground Floor, Trades Hall.

7. International Day of Mourning Service 2018 held for families and friends who have lost loved ones as a result of
workplace incidents or occupational illness at work.

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

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

MEETING ADJOURNED AT 6:20 PM

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