The USU’s Summer2020 edition of United has been sent to members. Check it out.

Graeme Kelly

Graeme Kelly OAM USU General Secretary: “Respect. It runs through everything we stand for as a union. Respect of our fellow human beings to have dignity, to have equality – to get a fair go.”

Members, in years to come when I look back on 2020, I wonder what I will remember. What will we all tell our grandkids about the year Covid19 changed the world?

I will remember hardship, isolation, shock, sadness and for some, despair.

Or has 2020 been a time of re-alignment? Will my memories instead be of a time when people across Australia and the world focused on the important priorities in life – seeing family and friends, hugging and holding loved ones, going out for community events and having a secure job to be able to support our families?

Central to all of this is respect. It runs through everything we stand for as a union. Respect of our fellow human beings to have dignity, to have equality – to get a fair go.

Has 2020 re-set our understanding of respect? In many instances we have seen enormous acts of courage and humanity. We saw it earlier in the year when our firefighters put everything on the line to protect lives and homes.

We have seen it daily as our members face down the virus and continue to do what they can for those who need their help.

We have seen people rally to help their neighbours and to give to those who suddenly found themselves without a job or a home, alone and isolated.

We have seen the best of humanity as employers focused on the safety of their workforce and keeping people in jobs.

Unfortunately we have also seen the other side and that hurts because that is a side with no respect.

I was appalled when Central Coast Council threatened not to pay their workforce because of a financial mess they had created.

I am shocked when I see the treatment of already struggling aviation workers who have gone through a nightmare from day one being told their job will be done by an iPad! There is no respect from Qantas in that!

However I refuse to have my memories dominated by people scrambling for toilet paper or the CEO ripping apart our national carrier. My memories will be of the respect we gained for each other as we faced this crisis together and with dignity.

That respect and dignity is on every page of our United journal, from our Central Coast Council members on pages 4-5 to Manager Stephen Hughes’ advice to members facing allegations of improper conduct on pages 38-39.

It is also represented by tributes to some union giants including Glen McAtear (p 8) and John Hickson (p 9) as well as outstanding lifetime commitments from members like Olga and our new life members Chris, Tony and Greg on page 18.

This edition also celebrates New Gen Award winners Samantha and Erin (p21) as well as hard working delegates like Sinead (p 16) and Committee member Kim (p 23).

I also applaud our Walgett Council members who turned picnic 2020 into an event that helps the community (p 30).

Do you want to wear your union pride? Check out how you can purchase merchandise from our new online shop on pages 28-29. We are really proud to be launching the shop and hope you will use it at

Sadly this edition also pays tribute to our amazing Organiser Emily Callachor who passed away on 4th October. Emily is a reminder of everything our union stands for and her loss has been felt by everyone at the USU, all her delegates and members and many in the wider union movement. Our thoughts are with her family and friends as we come to terms with her death.

On a final note, on behalf of President McAtear and the USU Executive I wish all members and their families a safe and Happy Christmas and a respectful 2021.


Graeme Kelly OAM
General Secretary
United Services Union