From Strength to Strength

2016 is seeing the branch continue to go from strength to strength. With a great team of officials and supporting roles such as welfare, research, legal, administration and communications, the union is a formidable machine that is recognised as one of the strongest labour organisations in the country.

And we need to be. 2016 sees 15,000 of our 19,000 members out of an agreement, and 1,000 enterprise agreements up for negotiation. This is complicated by the threat of the ABCC being reintroduced and the draconian Building Code that will gut the living standards of many of our members unless we resist it.

High stakes Federal election

We believe that members have a clear choice at this year’s Federal election. The union has never told its membership how they should vote, but all members are urged to make an educated decision when they go to the ballot box.

The branch has debated this issue and has come to a clear decision. Put the Liberals last. If you value your industry agreements, if you value EBAs, if you value your hourly rates, if you value health and safety — then you have to put the Liberals last.

If they get their way with the ABCC, the Building Code and the Registered Organisations Bill, the world as we know it will change for the worse. But we have a secret weapon with which to fight back. That secret weapon is you. Together we have built a union that today is at its strongest. Standing together we are an unbeatable force that is more than capable of defending our heritage and fighting off this anti-worker offensive.

We look forward to these challenges, and know that all 19,000 members will seize the day, stand together and defend 114 years of ETU history.

Training for the future

After years of planning, our state-of-the–art industry training facility is now up and running. We are looking forward to Futuretech assisting all of our members to increase their skill levels. Futuretech has been a dream of the union for 20 years and with a great partnership with one of the state’s strongest TAFEs, Holmesglen, we’ve already trained 250 people, a number we intend to increase dramatically in the coming years.

Over the next 10 years the branch will be working closely with the Solar Council and Holmesglen on training up as many members as we can on solar installation. This is one of the growth areas for the industry and the union into the future. Watch this space for some new solar installation courses that the union will be promoting through 2016-2017.

Don’t risk it: Don’t Work Live

This year we have witnessed several deaths of workers from contact with electricity. The toll from electrocution now stands at 75 over the last decade.

Thankfully none of the recent deaths have been of ETU members. This demonstrates the value of ETU-regulated safety on worksites, but the fact remains that every single one of these deaths is an absolute tragedy for the individual, their family and the communities they leave behind.

To address this situation and to remind all members of the absolute primacy of safety, we are launching a Don’t Work Live campaign

Shop Stewards Conference, great deals on ETU merchandise, and more …

Our huge Biennial Shop Stewards Conference is coming up at the end of June. This is the event at which the union will set its strategic direction for the next two years and beyond. If you’re a Shop Steward, make sure you’re enrolled to attend. If you would like to raise an issue for discussion at the conference, talk to your Shop Steward.

Change is underway in the world of ETU-branded merchandise. We are currently running a clearance sale to clear our warehouse of existing stock. It has been so successful that we shifted over 2,000 items in just one week during April. People love the ETU! Get in quick to grab yourself a bargain as our t-shirts and hoodies are literally flying off the shelves.

We recently entered into a new partnership with Staples Advantage for the provision of logistical support for the ETU Shop. This will lead to faster turnaround of orders, cheaper overheads for the union and greater variety of merchandise. You can expect to see a new range of ETU gear shortly.

The union has established a women’s committee in recognition of the issues that have a greater impact on our many female members. We will ensure that our new merchandise range caters for our women members and investigate options for sourcing properly fitting work attire.

Guarding the spirit of the Eureka Flag: no room for racism

We recently learnt that the far right Australia First Party has attempted to register the Eureka Flag as its emblem on ballot papers. This divisive organisation has no business appropriating this symbol of Australian freedom and fairness.

The miners, representing 18 different nationalities, who fought under this flag during the Eureka Rebellion did so ‘irrespective of nationality, religion or colour… as a refuge of all the oppressed from all countries on earth’.

It is unacceptable that this misguided organisation, and others like it, are using the Eureka Flag as a symbol for their divisive and racist ideas. The ETU stands against racism and bigotry in all its forms. Read more about our position on the recent resurgence of racist politics here.

National Corruption Commission

The ETU supports a broad-based national corruption commission, as we outlined here. The Trade Unions Royal Commission has been revealed as farcical in ignoring the construction companies and their dodgy dealings.

And yet the corrupt practices of the big-end-of-town extend far beyond our own industry as the recent Panama Papers leak has revealed.

We desperately need a proper independent corruption body in this land. Not an ABCC that just targets some of the hardest working people in this country, construction workers. We need a truly independent body that will investigate all aspects of corruption, including tax evasion.

Our union: a heartening 94% strong

Recently union membership density across our workplaces was mapped at an astonishing 94%. This is a figure even the biggest and loudest union would be jealous of and is testament to the diligence and passion of our members and Shop Stewards. You recognise the value of belonging to our union and wish to share the love. Thank you for your efforts and support. We couldn’t do what we do without you and never take your ongoing membership of our union for granted.