BRIAN CRAWFORD ELECTED AS FEDERAL SECRETARY
One of the highlights of the recent Federal Council meeting in Townsville was the election of Brian Crawford to the position of Federal Secretary. Brian has been an outstanding Queensland Assistant Secretary and has been doing the job since 1994. Brian has experience, knowledge and the respect of both the members and the more reasonable employers.
The good thing is that because this is a dual role the Queensland Branch will not be losing Brian as Queensland Branch Assistant Secretary. I am sure the members will join me in congratulating Brian and wishing him all the best in his new role.
MEATWORKERS GIVE OVER 3 MILLION DOLLARS
The front cover of this edition shows a photograph of Bill Maddock from Care for Kids thanking Swifts Toowoomba President Brett Rose for the great effort meatworkers at that site have made supporting sick children. Bill visited many plants to thank our members for their great effort and to encourage them to keep up the good work. Meatworkers have now donated over 3 million dollars to this worthy charity.
AMIEU FIRST UNION TO HIRE ORGANISER ON 457 VISA
I would take this opportunity to congratulate Wilian Sardinha on becoming an organiser with the AMIEU and being the first Union official in Australia hired on a 457 visa. Wilian started his Union activities translating for his workmates during the collective agreement negotiations at Teys Rockhampton. We subsequently used Wilian as a voluntary interpreter at various meetings with workers across the Teys group. When the Union decided to hire an organiser to assist us recruit and organise the migrant workers Wilian was the obvious first choice.
The Branch has several strategies regarding how Wilian can improve the standing of the AMIEU with overseas workers. We hope our initiative will help us increase and maintain members amongst the current migrant workforce. Because of the financial crisis and predictions of rising unemployment I think the Federal Minister for Immigration will drastically reduce the numbers of migrant workers being allowed into Australia. That is only to be expected because the 457 visa program was always about supplying workers during a labour shortage. It appears the labour shortage may be coming to an end.
FUNERAL AND MORTALITY SCHEME STARTS PAYING BENEFITS
One of the benefits to come from running surplus budgets over the past few years is that we have been able to afford to implement a Funeral Benefit Scheme. The Scheme, which commenced on 1 July 2008 was designed to provide a small amount of relief money to families in the weeks following the death of a member or a spouse. The Scheme is not designed to provide long term support as that is the role of the death benefit attached to the superannuation funds.
The Union has already made a payment to a member's family under the Funeral and Mortality Scheme. The deceased person was a long term member at the Swifts Dinmore plant and I am sure he will be missed by his workmates. It is good that the Union can now help our deceased members' families with the payment of the $1,500.00 benefit. It's not a lot but in circumstances like these every bit can make a difference and this particular member's spouse was very grateful for the support provided by the AMIEU. We have also paid a benefit to a member whose husband passed away.
The Union also provides grief counseling for people who are entitled to a payment under the scheme. We know that a lot of people will not make use of counseling but it is important that Union members know that the offer is available. We all hope that neither we nor our families will ever need to use this membership benefit. However, I am sure that most members think this is a positive service for the Union to provide.
MAY DAY 2008 - ANOTHER GREAT SUCCESS
Prior to this year's May Day I was a little concerned that numbers attending the parades would be down on past years. This was because the numbers had really grown over the previous few years as members marched in protest of John Howard's new industrial legislation. With Howard thrown out of office I realised our members may not see the need to turn out in big numbers.
As it turned out, May Day 2008 did see a slight drop in numbers but we still had reasonably large turnouts. Considering five years ago the AMIEU was lucky to have 40 people turn up to the Brisbane march I am very happy we are now counting our attendance in the hundreds of members. In the regional centers such as Ipswich and Toowoomba we are usually one of the biggest Union contingents. Many of our members have realised that Labour Day is a great opportunity for them to bring their families to a safe, cheap activity where they can meet other meatworkers and support their Union. Best of all you can have an affordable and enjoyable day out.
IT STILL PAYS TO BE IN THE UNION
The June quarter report is just in from the Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). There were 693 union collective agreements covering 68,300 employees registered for the quarter and they averaged a 4% wage increase. There were 776 non-union collective agreements covering 26,800 employees lodged for the same period. They averaged a wage increase of 3.6%. Non- union agreements generally also have less favorable conditions such as penalty rates, leave loading, shift allowances and redundancy provisions. No matter where you work it's smart to be in the Union and bargain collectively.