Arron Harris -  quiet commitment

After 11 years as an organiser, Arron Harris has become our newest Assistant Secretary, and it’s been a journey of quiet commitment.

Since jumping on a train from Warrnambool as a 17-year-old looking for an apprenticeship in Melbourne, Arron could never have imagined that one day he’d be deputy leader of the ETU. But back then Norris Electrics saw something in him and he got the apprenticeship he was after.

His unionism goes deep. His dad was President and Treasurer of the Municipal Employees' Union, and when Arron moved to Roadrunner Electrics as a tradesman it was no surprise when he became a union delegate. Then, showing interest in becoming an organiser, Dean Mighell invited him in for a three-month
delegation. Arron had found his calling and never went back on the job.

So what drives our newest Assistant Secretary to do what he does?

‘Working with the members and trying to assist people who are reliant on the union is the reward at the end of the day. I’ve always said we’ve got a smart membership. The members believe in what we do, and there’s a lot of trust and belief in what this union can deliver,’ says Arron.

While Arron’s not frightened of a fight, his approach is to first try to resolve issues without conflict.

‘You treat people how you want to be treated, and with that sort of mindset that’s how you start. I'm really looking forward to working with Troy and Ivan and I’ve got big shoes to fill. Wes Hayes was pretty good as Assistant Secretary,’ Arron says.

Aaron Douglass joins us on delegation for three months

Aaron Douglass began a three-month stint on delegation with the ETU in February. He will be learning the ropes as an organiser and gaining valuable insight into the workings of the union.

In his normal working life Aaron is a shop steward at Don Smallgoods in Castlemaine, looking after the interests of 30 ETU members. He took on the role following his experience of working for some colourful employers.

‘I’m the sort of bloke who always sticks up for his mates, and being a shop steward is the perfect position to be able to do that. When you know something’s not right, you’ve got to find out why it’s not right legally, then you can have the argument. That’s what I enjoy doing and why I put my hand up to be shop steward,’ says Aaron.

He has gained a breadth of experience in his 15 years as an electrician, starting out as an apprentice in the domestic sector in his native Cohuna. This was followed by a stint in the construction industry, working on jobs including the Bendigo Marketplace, and fly-in/fly-out government work in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.

Aaron took a break from his apprenticeship during a downturn in the domestic industry in 2005 and joined the defence force, serving four years in the navy.

‘During my time on delegation I’m hoping to gain much more experience, and if all goes well perhaps a future opportunity to work with the union permanently,’ Aaron told us.

Jennifer Worthing joins our legal team

We are pleased to welcome Jennifer Worthing to the ETU’s legal team.

Jennifer has studied arts and law at Monash University, as well as earning a graduate diploma from the Victorian College of Law. She will be spending six months with the ETU gaining the work experience she needs to be admitted to the Victorian Bar Association.

Jennifer is the daughter of legendary former ETU Assistant Secretary Howard Worthing.

‘Dad and I are quite similar in our passion for social justice. Hearing about his working life while growing up gave me an insight into how dynamic and fast-paced an environment it is working for a union. It’s early days, but so far I am really enjoying employment law. The tension between industrial action and the legal side of things has been fascinating to discover,’ says Jennifer.

This article is from the Autumn 2017 issue of the ETU's members magazine. You can read the digital edition here.