On two occasions recently, I have had the opportunity to listen to guest speakers from Union Aid Abroad APHEDA. APHEDA is the global justice organisation of the Australian union movement, it works to assist communities in the Pacific, South East Asia, the Middle East and southern Africa.
One of their current concerns comes out of Indonesia. We all are aware of the impact of asbestos and its implications to health. Yet our most northern neighbours have the most marginalised workers working in asbestos riddled workplaces. Join the campaign of ’Not here. Not anywhere’. I do urge you to go to their website http://apheda.org.au and learn more and become a member.
Unions have their stamp in history throughout the world. Not always under the banner of unionism, but under the banner of social justice.The IEU is involved in many social justice issues. Its work with APHEDA, COPE and other organisations make us a global campaigner.
The struggle today continues with unions’ fight to maintain or improve working conditions. We are most grateful that our union is there to continue to negotiate wages, working conditions, workplace safety, complaints procedures, policies, and the list goes on. Some school staff are enjoying the benefits of the achievements of the IEU without becoming members.
Unions are not irrelevant. Just look at the gains we as support staff have had since the IEU took us under their banner. Yet, I get exasperated when workers say ‘What has the union done for me?’ or ‘They didn’t get what I wanted’ or ‘They didn’t fight hard enough’. Remember the Union will always go into bat for us. If the outcome was not positive, don’t blame the Union, blame the employers.
I urge all members to continue to raise the benefits of union membership and seek out non members and encourage them to join.
The following is a statement from our recent 3Rs campaign:
“For a worker to refuse to belong to a union is not to exercise a democratic freedom.
“It is to accept benefits that others have worked for without contributing to the cost.
“Democracy flourishes only when freedom is accompanied by responsibility.”