ACTU Congress comes to Brisbane
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 6, 31 August 2018, page no.22
The triennial Congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) was held in Brisbane in July.
Policies and resolutions
The ACTU Congress adopted 26 policies, all of which have been through a process of substantial discussion and negotiation within the union movement prior to the Congress. In addition, a series of resolutions concerning specific aspects of the workers’ union movement were also carried. One of these resolutions relates to the “Fair Funding Now!” campaign, under the heading of Fair Funding for Public Schools, which was unanimously adopted by the Congress.
The policies adopted by the ACTU Congress form the basis of ACTU campaigning and negotiations in the lead up to the next federal election and subsequently.
One of the key policies adopted by the ACTU Congress was the industrial relations policy, which will form the basis of the ACTU’s claim for new industrial laws in the lead-up to the federal election. Key elements of the policy include:
- restoring the concept of a living wage, rather than a bare-minimum wage
- an award system that is based on communities and industry standards, rather than a minimum safety net
- removal of restrictions on the content and variation of awards
- enhancement of national employment standards e.g. paid domestic violence leave
- addressing avoidance mechanisms like shared contracting and labour hire
- improved worker representation and delegate rights
- more flexible bargaining regime, rather than one restricted to the enterprise
- removing restrictions on the content of bargaining
- strengthening good-faith bargaining provisions
- simplifying and extending the right to take industrial action
- increased opportunities for unions to pursue enforcement.
Election of office bearers
ACTU Secretary, Sally McManus and Assistant Secretaries, Michael Borowick and Scott Connolly, were re-elected to their positions. Michelle O’Neill from the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) was elected as President following the election of Ged Kearney as the federal member for Batman.
Young Workers’ Hub
The Queensland Young Workers’ Hub was launched during the ACTU Congress on 18 July. Its purpose is to provide advice to young workers, about basic industrial entitlements like rates of pay and to develop talks about fundamental industrial issues relating to students. A number of subsequent media reports grossly misrepresented the intended role of the hub, including misrepresentations by the shadow Education Minister, both in public and subsequently in parliamentary estimates hearings. Considering the problems of wage theft in the modern economy and the vulnerability of young workers, including school students, the QTU will continue to support the Young Workers’ Hub.
Fair Funding Now! campaign action
On the morning of the second day of Congress, AEU delegates undertook a signup of Congress delegates to the “Fair Funding Now!” campaign before the commencement of proceedings for the day.
Launch of Union Health
The Union Health brand was launched by Teachers’ Union Health (TUH) at a fringe event. This brand will be available to members of all unions and their families throughout the country. It is a significant initiative by TUH to provide this highly respected and highly successful health insurance service to members of other unions.