The USU’s Summer 2023 edition of United has been sent to members. Check it out.
People over Profits
As I sit down to write this final editorial in our 120th year I cannot help but reflect on all the people who have gone before me fighting for a fairer and more equitable society.
Around about the time I was joining our great union ILO Convention C151 was first ratified and adopted internationally – but not in Australia.
That’s right – a convention first adopted in 1978 has still not been ratified in Australia.
At the recent PSI Conference, myself along with ASU National Secretary Robert Potter and ASU NSW Services Union Secretary Angus McFarland were part of the Public Services International delegation to the ILO in Geneva. (p 8-9)
As members of the delegation, we met with officials of the ILO to seek assistance in our campaign to have the Australian Federal Government ratify ILO Convention C151: Labour Relations (Public Service), 1978.
ILO C151 is an important international legal instrument that provides the right of public sector workers to bargain for wages and working conditions.
As world leaders in industrial relations, Australia has not yet signed C151. We will be pursuing the federal Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Tony Burke to ensure Australia is a signatory to this important convention.
I know this can seem far from home – barely relevant in a country where our rights are enshrined in legislation and industrial instruments.
But the threat to workers’ rights to bargain is always with us. The desire of governments to ride roughshod over workers is ever present. It is not that long ago since John Howard stripped workers’ rights without any negotiation using his workChoices legislation, and more recently we saw the state government slap a wage cap on public sector workers, negating their right to negotiate wage increases.
We need to fight to put people before profits.
Just this week we have seen a disgraceful display by Lismore Council when they basically decided to sell off waste jobs (p 4-5). Conversely, we see Liverpool Council adopting a new waste system – the CROC – which is entirely serviced by in-house labour, guaranteeing secure, local jobs (p 13).
We are always by your side.
Graeme Kelly OAM
United Services Union