I think most members would agree that 2011 has flown by and for our union it has been a busy year. 2012 is shaping up to be another big year but we are ready for the challenge.
During 2011 we launched our Make the Switch campaign to ensure our collective strength was safeguarded. It has been an overwhelming success but we are not finished yet. We will continue the push in 2012, because one thing is certain, the challenges that we have faced in 2011 are set to increase.
We have already seen the O’Farrell government start its attack on working men and women. One of their earliest announcements was the cap on public sector wages and recently they announced they will be reducing compensation for police.
Our own members have been in the direct firing line with the government announcing they are going to sell off the electricity generators - despite a pre-election promise that they would not.
In the local government sector the government launched their blueprint for the future - Destination 2036 - and excluded the USU and our members from the planning table.
It got worse when the O’Farrell Government made its first attack on Local Government employees’ pay and conditions - moving a bill in the Lower House that reduced employment protections for redundancies and corporatised Local Government.
The USU successfully lobbied the previous State Government to protect employees who were transferred to another council following boundary changes or council amalgamations. The Local Government Act was amended to include no forced redundancies of non-senior employees for a period of three years after transfer which gave local government workers some security.
The O’Farrell Government has attempted to reduce those employment protections to one year - a move we will continue to lobby against in the Upper House.
This move against workers is a part of the agenda to amalgamate councils and reduce the numbers of employees.
Of great concern to the USU is the total lack of regard the government has for the workforce - with a lack of consultation they have made it clear they do not want to give workers a voice.
The USU will continue talks with the opposition and other minor parties to ensure our members are heard.
In the midst of all of this we saw the biggest act of industrial thuggery this country has ever seen with Alan Joyce shutting down Qantas leaving thousands of people stranded and workers locked out. I am proud of our Qantas members and officials who responded immediately to the crisis.
USU General Secretary