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AWU Leadership Re-elected

June 30, 2021

The re-elected AWU leadership team begins its new four-year term today, and has begun by paying tribute to the unions members who have proved once again they are stronger together during a challenging year.

Reflecting on the past term, AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton said the union’s collective efforts filled him with pride.

“We’ve helped each other when things were tough and fought to improve the lives not just of our members, but their communities,” Mr Walton said.

“From steel workers to gold miners, fruit pickers to offshore gas workers, aluminium workers to hair stylists – we have been united by our belief in making life better and fairer for working people.

“I’m particularly proud of the way our union uses every tool at our disposal. Over the past four years we’ve campaigned in the workplace, in the courts, in the community, and in the corridors of power.

“We’ve made strides toward securing Australia’s manufacturing industry through stronger procurement laws, lower electricity prices, and fairer gas prices through government reforms.

“Recently, we campaigned vigorously to save our last two oil refineries, until the Federal Government was finally forced to see sense and stepped in to ensure both stayed open. Obviously it was hugely disappointing to see other refineries shut in recent years, but there is no doubt in my mind fuel refining would have gone the way of car manufacturing if the AWU hadn’t been involved.

“I’ve also been so proud of the way our union has backed our firies who fought the horrific 2019 summer fires and acknowledged our members through our AWU Honours Program.”

The AWU had a huge influence through key submissions and heartbreaking testimonials on the National Dust Disease Taskforce, highlighting how silicosis has ruined lives and threatened thousands more.

The AWU also spearheaded the campaign on behalf of the nation’s most vulnerable workers, those in horticulture who have been subject to wage theft and workplace abuse and exploitation.

“Our union has done what others have been too timid to do – call out the regular and shocking abuses that happen on Australian farms. Our union was born on the land, and we have a duty, I think, to stand up for Australian working conditions in horticulture and agriculture,” Mr Walton said.

Of course, the Covid crisis has been a constant throughout the past year, and the AWU has worked hard to help those most harshly affected by the pandemic. Most obviously, perhaps, this included Queensland AWU members involved in frontline aged care and healthcare roles. But there was scarcely an industry that wasn’t affected.

“Our union fought hard for pandemic leave and supported our many members who had to soldier on in essential industries,” Mr Walton said.

“Most of our members can’t work from home. They have to turn up on site every day to make sure Australia’s essential industries stayed open. Some of those, like FIFO workers, needed additional support from their union to make sure their duties were balanced with home life – and that they were adequately compensated for time far away from family and friends.”

Mr Walton said while he was proud of the strides the union had made over the past four years, there was so much left to do over the coming four.

“With so many of us now back in lockdown, we all need to pull together once again,” Mr Walton said.

“Beyond this I want the next four years to be defined by delivering safer workplaces. That means pouring our efforts into every aspect of safety, from our silica dust campaign to everyday HSR training.

“I want us to be at the spear tip of the push for better wages and conditions. We need to help tackle Australia’s endemic problem of slow wages growth.

“I want our agriculture workers to have better protections and guaranteed wages. And I want to expand and securing our key industries with strong industry policy to take advantage of the post covid boom. We should become a more resilient nation that can make things, especially if and when times get tough again.”

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