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QLD 2019 Delegate of the Year Awarded to Mick Denton

January 13, 2020

Queenslander Mick Denton has been recognised as a 2019 Delegate of the Year for his long-running efforts at Caltex Lytton in Brisbane.

“Mick has always gone above and beyond our expectations on behalf of our members and the union” said Queensland Secretary Steve Baker as he presented the award at the AWU National Conference in 2019.

“He has contributed countless hours assisting our members around the clock, whether it be organising the site for bargaining, ensuring members get the representation that they deserve, fighting for those injured and calling management out to hold them to account for their many non-compliances.”

“Mick has also been fundamental in building an effective AWU delegate structure, which has ensured high density and member power on the Caltex site.”

The trophy itself is also significant, constructed from steel, glass and aluminium. The raw materials were sourced from AWU sites and provided by members – the aluminium from Tomago (Newcastle), the steel from Bluescope (Port Kembla) and the glass from Viridian (Victoria). Its creation signifies the importance of these three industries to the Union, and the collective efforts of AWU members across the nation.

When Mick began working at Caltex nearly fifteen years ago, it was his first job in the Oil industry. After three years he became a site delegate at the Lytton refinery, taking on the added responsibility of organising, bargaining, and helping members through their workplace issues.

Representing operators and lab workers, Mick says work on his site never stops. “An oil refinery is a 24-hour-a-day facility, so it makes it hard to represent workers all the time.”

His fellow delegates are crucial in their support, and Mick reckons he couldn’t do half the work needed without them. “I think I have the best team in the country. These smart and dedicated unionists are always working hard for our members. They are committed to ensuring a safe workplace and protecting the pay and conditions of our members.”

“They are without a doubt the main reason why we have had such success over the past dedicate.”

Looking back over his tenure as delegate, major wins for Mick include an agreement that locked in pay increases of 14%, 8% and 6% over three years. He also helped negotiated one of the best EA’s in the country, and his site enjoys some of the highest rates of pay and beset conditions in the industry.

What makes Lytton such a beacon of workers’ rights? Mick says the numbers tell the story. “We have 100% union density and with that sort of strength and unity, we have been able to achieve great outcomes for all members.”

Health and safety is also paramount, and Mick and his team run the Safety Committee on site. A number of delegates are also HSRs. “I want to make sure that every worker on site – not just our members – make it home safely every day.”

Mick also lends his experience to some big-picture initiatives. He is a member of AROC, a national body which ensures industrial strategy for oil operators, and is the Chair of the AWU Oil & Gas Industry Reference Group. Mick is also an active local ALP member and a delegate to ALP State Conference.

To be a great delegate, Mick reckons it helps to know a bit about industrial regulations, particularly Work Health and Safety legislation, the Fair Work Act, as well as the ins and outs of your site.

But it’s more than just knowledge. “If you can’t cop bullies, and if you can’t turn a blind eye to someone who needs help, then you already have nearly all the qualities needed to be a great delegate,” he says.

“Never lose focus on the fact that you and your members are the AWU. Be proud of your union, and keep fighting the good fight.”

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