Anna Stewart Memorial Project 2015

 Source : Queensland Teachers' Journal, vol. 120, no. 6, 21 August 2015, p. 25

Maika and Brigid emulate "Rosie the Riveter" at the QCU's Organising with Equity women's forum

The Anna Stewart Memorial Project (ASMP) was set up by the Queensland Council of Unions in 1988 to help rank and file women get more active in the union movement. Member unions nominate women members to participate in a two week work shadowing program, one week with their own union and the second week with a host union.  Exchanges between blue and white collar unions are encouraged, with a view to raising an awareness of the many and varied issues that confront all workers, and particularly women, in all fields of work. Here, the QTU's 2015 nominees recount their experiences.

Maika Bailey

Maika Bailey :Thank you QTU! What an amazing opportunity I have just had, to experience the internal workings of the union movement. As part of the ASMP, I was privileged to be working alongside some of the fantastic Organisers we have at the QTU, not to mention the Senior Officers, Executive and other very valuable QTU employees.

I had an “access all areas” pass to the QTU Building in Milton – from QTAD to a meeting of the Executive, everyone was so welcoming and willing to share all.

The other union I had the opportunity to see was the CFMEU. I was very nervous to say the least, especially when the stories start to fly about them. My experience, on the other hand was memorable for all the right reasons. My involvement took in a visit to a bedding factory, chatting with members, delivering fundraising goods to Assist A Sista and getting the inside perspective on a major shopping centre project. However, I can’t quite decide on my best moment: a hostile welcome from a non-EB site, or getting workers sent home for the first time by a well renowned builder as a result of unsafe working conditions.

To the women and men of the QTU and CFMEU, you are so welcoming and should be so proud of your passion for encouraging supporters of the Union and newcomers like myself. However, the main thing that stood out with blinding light was your dedication to your members, and when people ask “What is the Union doing for me?”, my response will be “How much time have you got?” I can’t thank you enough for being a part of the ASMP.

Brigid Fletcher

Brigid Fletcher : Being a part of the project was a fantastic opportunity to witness every department in our Union working energetically and passionately to guarantee the best outcomes for our members.

I was given the opportunity to witness our Organisers in action, spoke with every department and learned that they field hundreds of calls a week from members seeking support. I was able to witness our Executive in action as it laid out our Union’s position on a variety of issues that impact on our workload and conditions. I discovered that every department is essential, and because they are all working side by side to form our Union body, we are truly a force to be reckoned with.

My second week was spent with The Services Union and it was fascinating to witness how many different workplaces and employees are successfully represented and supported by one union. I visited the Multicultural Development Agency, where a support worker and union representative shared his experiences as an asylum seeker. I was witness to the roll out of a new union campaign. There was a visit to the Logan Wastewater Treatment Plant and a meeting with social workers. Once again, I was impressed by the level of professionalism, passion and commitment displayed as every delegate and union employee worked towards obtaining the best conditions for all their members from a huge variety of workplaces.

The Project honours Anna Stewart's work as a unionist and means her success in encouraging women to contribute to the trade union movement is continually being built upon and invigorated. I was very honoured to have the opportunity to be an “Anna” and work with so many passionate and inspiring women.