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ACTU 2015 Congress Policies

ACTU 2015 Congress Policies
ACTU 2015 Congress: Class struggle?
Ged ACTU Congress 2015

ACTU Congress 2015 is the presentation of many union campaigns and issues and the conclusion of ACTU Policy and the passing of resolutions that are worth supporting. (see my last blog for draft policies).
CPSU strike delegates

I was reporting during the Congress week for Radio 3CR breakfast programmes and with Annie Mcloughlin 3CR reporter- see photo.(Please make a donation to 3CR –
Annie 3CR
Listen here for ACTU guest US economist Professor Robert B Riech on the importance of unions in reducing inequality; then Chris White gives a roundup of the ACTU Congress.
By Skype, Professor Reich was Secretary of Labor under the Presidency of Bill Clinton, and in the documentary, Inequality for All. He said to the 1,000 union delegates do not follow the US model of capitalism that means inequality.

One strike campaign reported and supported is the CPSU led by Secretary Nadine Flood in their Collective Bargaining battle with the Abbott government.
Since Congress mass CPSU actions are strong, still a long way to go, but with unions and community offering solidarity.
Here is one report of the Canberra CPSU mass stop-work meeting
Nadine Flood CPSU

How to implement these ACTU 2915 policies nationally is the challenge.

How to unite unions more closely across the labour movement to campaign successfully.

I encourage unionists and left political activists to work hard in workplaces and in the community to implement these policies and that the class struggle can be developed.

Unions are the union members. With union campaigning with these policies, we have the capacity to defeat Abbott at the next election. How to apply the Congress solidarity across the Australian working class.

Importantly unions know and the ACTU leadership recognises that with an ALP government the union campaigning must continue to apply pressure and to achieve our aims, unlike what happened after the victorious YR@W campaign when the ACTU dropped the campaigning.

This blog has many posts on the right to strike. I post first the 2015 policy where at the union forum there was considerable good debate to stiffen up the policy, to improve the draft based on the Reith Workplace Relations period, to a stronger more effective strike policy. Please circulate this to union and community activists.

Right to strike
Congress affirms that all workers must have the right to take industrial action. No worker or union should be threatened with coercive or punitive orders from a Court as a consequence of exercising their right to strike or engaging in legitimate political protest.
Congress notes that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has described the Fair Work Act’s processes for regulating access to protected industrial action as ‘excessive’.
Legally protected industrial action should be available to workers seeking a collective agreement, without the necessity for a secret ballot or without the condition that bargaining has commenced.
Irrespective of whether unions utilise internal processes, a ballot agent or choose to avail themselves of ballot processes administered by the FWC or the Australian Electoral Commission, there should be no role for employers other than a positive obligation of non- interference.

The Fair Work Act should make it clear that duly authorised industrial action continues to be authorised and available to all union members irrespective of changes in the size or composition of the workforce seeking to be covered by an agreement.

Congress notes that workers are unduly prejudiced by lockouts and that it is not a legitimate function of industrial relations law to provide employers with legal rights to combat worker collectivism and solidarity. The Fair Work Act should therefore prohibit employer lockouts.

Michael O'Connor CFMEUIn line with ILO recommendation 188, international best practice and previous Congress policy, employers should not be permitted to engage replacement labour during periods of protected industrial action.

strike as a last resort

strike as a last resort

The right to take protected industrial action should not be subject to administrative interference other than in the exceptional circumstances of:
a) Threats to life, personal safety or health, or the welfare, of the population or part of it; or
b) Significant damage to the Australian economy or an important part of it.
Engaging in bargaining in sectors or across an industry should not diminish the right to take protected industrial action.
There should be no power to a Minister to terminate protected action. Orders to stop or prevent unprotected industrial action must be the domain of the Fair Work Commission in the first instance and the Fair Work Commission must have discretion as to whether it issues those orders.
Congress calls for loopholes that permit employers to coerce workers to stop or cease exercising their rights to take protected action to be closed. In particular, employers should be bound to make full or proportional payments for work performed in the event of protected action constituted by partial work bans. Further, employers should be prohibited from using codes of conduct to threaten or limit workers from taking protected action.
Congress notes that Australia’s secondary boycott provisions do not conform with the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention of the ILO (Convention No. 87).

Congress also notes that Australia’s current industrial relations laws do not provide a proper framework for resolving disputes involving secondary boycotts.
Luke Hilakari VTHC
Congress calls for the removal of the secondary boycott provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
Congress notes the breadth of issues working Australians face and calls for the right for all workers to take industrial action in support of broader industrial, economic and political objectives.

Congress recognises that government and public sector employees are members of the Australian community and should have the same rights to participate in political and union activity as other workers.

I urge the circulation of the above ACTU policy to union delegates to campaign for the right to strike.

What was not debated is workers’ control, but I see this interesting article on the Whyally Glove factory occupation

And here on Green Bans, now unlawful under our law
Now I move to a recording of some speeches and resolutions, here my selection.
Ged Kearney

On Day one popular ACTU President Ged Kearney who was reelected welcomed the 1,000 delegates,
you can read her opening address here

Congress opening

She ended: ”I urge every one of you to think beyond your own workplaces and even your own unions. Think about what good public policy means and what a broader, progressive agenda requires of us as a movement because I ask you delegates, “If not us, who?”
The ACTU Congress is never only about listening to speakers and participating in policy discussions.
I want you to come out of this Congress motivated for the fight ahead, proud of the movement you belong to, and informed about our strategies to build a better future.
And think about the responsibility you have to your fellow members as a delegate at this Congress, and what you will want to report back to your unions and what new knowledge you will have to share.

Make the most of every opportunity you have to connect with members from unions other than your own – whether you are a truckie, a teacher, a wharfie, or a plumber, whether you work in an aluminium smelter, an aged care facility, a poultry factory, a call centre or an iron ore mine – we are all part of the same movement with the same common goals. Congress is about about forming relationships and networks and building a common sense of purpose.”

Ged Kearney urged unionists to campaign for a Union Charter not only building on the widespread dissatisfaction with the Abbott government’s actions against working families, but also what workers need – these are in the Charter and policies and in summary includes:

Workers’ Rights…Unions will defend the rights at work, wages and conditions that have been won by generations of unionists, and we will extend them by campaigning for secure jobs and for better protection for those in insecure work. And that includes minimum wages and penalty rates.

Universal healthcare…the state of a person’s health should not depend on the size of their bank balance. We will campaign against fees for doctors’ visits and for better funding for hospitals, medical services and aged care.

The highest quality education…
from pre-school through to tertiary education, the best education must be available to all Australians if we are to prosper as a nation. We will campaign for improved resourcing to early childhood education, equitable funding to schools, the restoration of TAFE and access to university for Australians from all backgrounds. There must never be American-style $100,000 university degrees in this country.

Public services must be owned by everyone for the benefit of everyone…
the experiment of privatisation has been a dismal failure, characterised by higher prices, poorer services, and massive job losses. The only people who have benefitted have been multinational companies and merchant bankers; no-one believes the spin any more. The public deserves a basic level of services, and these cannot be run by a shoestring workforce.

A Secure Retirement…
unions led the way in campaigning for universal superannuation for all, not just an elite few, and we will continue to advocate for decent pensions and superannuation so all Australians can retire with dignity. The Superannuation Guarantee must be raised and the Low Income Superannuation Contribution Scheme restored.
 Abbott’s attack on unions and superannuation has to be defeated. See

A Fair Go For All
the government’s top priority must always be to ensure that there are resources to support industries and economic growth that delivers high skilled jobs in a diverse economy. An economy where no-one is left behind and everyone who needs support can find it. This requires everyone to contribute their fair share of tax, and that must include big business, multinational companies and the very wealthy, who have become very adept at minimising or avoiding tax.

The Financial Transactions Tax – so-called Robin Hood Tax – is one new source of revenue that is supported.
What we are up against is the campaigns from our corporate rich
Dave Oliver, re-elected as Secretary, announced I consider a most important union development.
Dave Oliver Bust the Budget
“Unions have learnt from the significant mistake they made when they dismantled the landmark Your Rights At Work campaign after Labor won the 2007 election. That by abandoning Your Rights at Work (YRAW), the unions went overnight from being a campaigning movement to a transactional movement.

That is why the plan we are putting forward at this Congress is not only about building our campaign capacity, it’s about keeping it. We will not make that mistake again.”

The thousand union delegates voted for an extra $2 levy raising $13 million to transform the ACTU into a permanent campaigning organisation.
Dave Oliver presented the plan to target around 30 marginal seats across the country with grass roots campaigning to be coordinated by 20 new staff employed by the ACTU.

“They are notionally based in marginal seats, but we want a mobile and nimble nation-wide campaigning team. After the election, the ACTU campaign team aims to achieve key advancements for working people such as secure jobs and portable entitlements.”

New ACTU campaigns director and Vice-President Sally McManus (Sally McManus is from the ASU and the leader for the winning equal pay campaign for social welfare workers) told the Congress that to remove the Abbott Government, Labor would have to win 22 seats, with the union campaign playing a critically important role. She said it was a mistake dismantling the YRAW infrastructure. Unions will build and maintain “a permanent campaign force on the ground and online. Imagine having a team of experienced campaigners who can be deployed when and where the union movement needs them.”

In the ACTU poll in six Coalition-held marginals there was a primary vote swing of between 2% and 4% against the sitting Coalition MP, but in most cases voters had switched to the Greens or the undecided column rather than to Labor and showing as in other polls for most of Abbott’s term around 52% to 48% on two-party-preferred terms.

Can unions take up the challenges of the solidarity amongst all the delegates to be spread to millions of unionists at work so that the ACTU can be effective over the next three years to have a working class strategy?

What is required is a fighting union movement that empowers workers not only to rebuff politically the corporate agenda of Abbott by voting them out, not only to reverse the cuts and anti-working class corporate policies, but to convince the next Labor Government and may well be Bill Shorten PM and convince Parliament to pass stronger laws guaranteeing workers’ rights and deliver all the required policies for working families.
Answer it depends. We shall see.

Bill Shorten, ALP Opposition leader, gave an upbeat speech and received a standing ovation.

ACTU Assistant Secretary Borowick

Michael Borowick Assistant Secretary was reelected and stressed the importance of core health and safety prevention programmes as a must, union elected health &safety representatives critical and with stronger penalties, such as industrial manslaughter. Stronger and reformed workers compensation systems are necessary. See below for extensive policies.
ACTU showed videos of commemoration services and the aftermath of families where the father is killed at work and the widow talks about it. Speak Up, Stand Up, Come Home campaign is powerful. Watch the video here

Workers have to have immediate right of entry for their union OHS organisers to inspect workplaces.

Unions will campaign to have a much improved workers compensation system, where injured workers’ benefits have been reduced by State governments – see policies below. There are still many issues with asbestos at work and in the community (Mr Fluffy in Canberra).

The TWU Safe Rates campaign is supported and still on-going to stop the Abbott government from dismantling the recently developed reforms.
Unions should run “radical” campaigns including sit-ins and blocking roads to “misbehave” and hold corporate power to account, Transport Workers Union (TWU) NSW secretary Michael Aird. The move to enterprise bargaining in the early 1990s and continued in the Fair Work Act had “broken down our solidarity. All the great union campaigns are not enterprise campaigns – they are radical, or fought large. Aird cited United Voice’s ‘Big Steps’ childcare campaign, the equal pay campaign, nurse-to-patient ratios, the TWU’s ‘Safe Rates’ and the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union campaign to lift employment conditions for outworkers.The union movement “needs to think more about being radical … our members are up for it, they understand it. Let’s have sit-ins, let’s block the roads. Let’s take on corporate power. Let’s hold power to account.”

White ribbon affirmation by male delegates was strong.ACTU_White_Ribbon_web
Australian of the Year Rosie Batty made a special appearance and endorsed the ACTU’s push for domestic violence clauses with two weeks paid leave for victims of domestic violence as a minimum standard.

Complementing Rosie was veteran MUA leader Mick Doleman’s inspiring speech on White Ribbon.
“Domestic Violence isn’t a women’s issue, it’s a men’s issue. We are the perpetrators and as such, we are the ones who have to lead.”
Secretary Oliver then lead the men in the room in taking the White Ribbon pledge.

Development of union women activists, as union delegates, and in leadership positions is a priority. See policies below.
Unions lack equal representation of women at top: report More women hold office at the top of unions than ever before but women are still short of equal representation, holding just 40% of senior positions, according to a report by University of Sydney Associate Professor Dr Rae Cooper presented a summary of her report into women in unions.
The report showed in women held 39% of secretary positions of 21 unions surveyed in 2014, up from 30% in 2010 and 23% in 1999.
Women held 40% of all leadership positions (secretaries, presidents, vice presidents and assistant secretaries), up from 37% in 2010 and 28% in 1999.

But by some measures women’s representation had declined, eg their share of delegates at ACTU Congress had fallen from 49% in a 2010 survey to 38% in the 2014 survey. Women were more than half the unions’ employees in fields including campaigns (71%), support staff (66%), communications (60%) and organisers (60%), but were less than half in industrial positions (46%) and as directors (42%).

Defending superannuation industry funds being dismantled by Abbott – here is the ideological latest attack
ACTU is campaigning to increase superannuation and as well interestingly a claim to be argued for women to receive an extra 2% because of past discrimination.

See arguments here

Save our Stories – from MEAA
That this meeting of the ACTU national congress commit our support to the MEAA’s campaign to defend the existing 420 subclass entertainment visa system. The current system has served the Australian entertainment and screen industry well for more than 25 year, incorporating appropriate:
•labour-market testing mechanisms including union consultation;
•requirements for the attraction of the foreign investment as a condition of entry;
•guarantees of leading and support roles for local performers on tax-payer subsidised screen production; and
•commitments for local technicians and crew to work at all levels of a feature film.
In an industry characterised by an oversupply of talented performers and crew, and high exposure to the fluctuations in global markets and the Australian dollar, we cannot afford to further limit opportunities for local technicians and crew to work, grown their skill set, and participate in the telling of local stories. We pledge our support to MEAA’s campaign – #saveourstories – and commend the support of the Federal opposition and cross-bench Senators and MPs to date.

MUA defence of Australian seafarers to be employed is supported.
Mick Doleman took a lead in presenting the MUA’s motion on Coastal Shipping, which was passed unanimously and seconded by the AMOU’s Jan Thompson.
“People would be outraged if the Government proposed to import truck drivers from developing countries and let them be paid $2 an hour for endless shifts with basically no rights, working in a truck with substandard safety with all tax being paid to another country.Well that’s what the Government is trying to do to shipping and the buck won’t stop there. Just this week the Government announced its intention to unravel Cabotage in the airline industry.”
FOC threaten jobs
Dean Summers
, who is a party to the inquest, said: “Four Corners highlighted the high cost of cheap shipping. We need a senate Inquiry to investigate the real dangers of flag of convenience shipping, as it poses a real and serious threat to Australia’s national security, environment and fuel security, as well to the lives and welfare of international seafarers.

Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders are supported by unions against all the Abbott government attacks. Congress supports Constitutional recognition. ACTU Congress condemns the erosion of Native Title rights for Indigenous Australians since the High Court ruled in the Mabo case that the application of Terra Nullius by Captain James Cooke in Australia was false.
ACTU Congress notes the Indigenous Leaders Round Table Meeting on Property Rights convened by the Australian Human Rights Commissioner in Broome on Tuesday 19 May and Wednesday 20 May 2015 and supports the recommendation made to Government by those Indigenous Leaders for regional conferences to be held across Australia to maximise the input from Indigenous Australians.
The ACTU Congress resolves to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, of which thousands are trade union members, against the further erosion of Native Title and urges that Land Tenure discussions have an oversight by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples that ensures any proposal from the Australian Government meets international standards developed on Human Rights processes in the United Nations.
The ACTU Congress encourages the above towards a National Social Compact that brings into focus the developments in the area of Human Rights, the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the I.L.O. Convention 169 and a host of other Human Rights instruments in any further amendments to Land Tenure Legislation. Moved: Thomas Mayor (MUA) Seconded: Arthur Rorris SNSW TLC
Thomas Mayor MUA NT
Thomas Mayor
Hugely powerful video of courageous young indigenous woman confronting stereotypes bought tears to ACTU delegates. Please share. ‪#‎actu2015‬‬‬‬ Racism – it stops with me. ACTU supports Human Rights Commission.

The ACTU Congress:
Congratulates the Muckaty Traditional Owners and their supporters for sustained and successful efforts in defence of their community, culture and country.
Notes and welcomes the decision of the federal government to not further pursue the contested site at Muckaty for a national radioactive waste management facility.
Calls for full transparency, public input and best practice technical and consultative standards during the current revised site nomination and selection process, scheduled to conclude by mid-2016.
Expresses concern at the Federal Government’s continuing commitment to finding a single remote site for radioactive waste to be disposed (low level) and stored (intermediate level) to the evident exclusion of other waste management options.
Reaffirms its support for a broad independent inquiry that examines all options for radioactive waste transport, storage and management.
Commits to supporting both communities opposing the nomination of their lands or region for a dump site, and any workers who refuse to facilitate the construction and operation or transport and handling of radioactive waste materials destined for any contested facility or sites.
Moved: Paul McAleer, MUA Seconded: Peter Simpson, ETU

ACTU Congress is supporting Asylum Seekers. Workers of the world unite.

1. Australia’s policies towards asylum seekers and refugees should, at all times, reflect respect and decency, consistent with Australia building a society that is a tolerant, compassionate and multicultural nation and in recognition of the role refugees and other migrants from all over the world have contributed to our country. Congress calls on Australian Parliamentarians to pursue a refugee policy that re-establishes Australia’s reputation as a welcoming and humane society.
2. Congress recognises refugees and asylum seekers are among the world’s most vulnerable people. As a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, Australia has an obligation to protect the human rights of all asylum seekers and refugees arriving in Australia, regardless of the manner in which they arrived and the country of origin. Under international human rights law, asylum seekers arriving by boat are not illegal and Australia is required to ensure that claims of people seeking protection are assessed in accordance with the United Nations (UN) Refugee Convention. Congress calls upon the Government to ensure that there is no discrimination in the processing of application for asylum based on the mode of arrival.
3. Congress recognises that seeking asylum is a fundamental human right. The current approach adopted by Australia focuses on deterrence and reflects a xenophobic fear of the outsider, based on judgement that we are entitled to our good fortune and have no obligations to share it with those less fortunate.
4. Congress reiterates that a refugee is someone who has fled their home country and is seeking protection. The process of assessing asylum claims in-country is standard practice. Australia has the capacity and international responsibility to take both refugees that arrive in Australia seeking asylum and those identified through the UN resettlement system. According to the UNHCR, Australia receives fewer applications than comparable industrialised countries. Among the industrialised countries, Australia ranks 19, i.e. 18 other industrialised countries have a higher share of asylum applications than Australia. ACTU Congress reaffirms that Australia should increase its intake of refugees to meet the levels received by other industrialised countries.
5. Congress calls on Australian Parliamentarians to take leadership and to reframe the national debate about refugees and asylum seekers, explaining that the majority of people who have entered Australia by boat seeking asylum have been found to need protection from persecution, and therefore the vulnerability of asylum seekers must be a primary consideration in any government response to people movement.

Can unions survive in the new digital economy? The decline of traditional employment relationships due to digital disruption and globalisation has led to a ‘trickle up’ effect in wealth, according to Dave Oliver.The ‘liquid workforce’ created by digital platforms like Uber and Freelancer was contributing to insecure work. Working on these platforms was akin to ‘zero hours contracts’ because they encouraged “a reverse auction where the lowest bidder wins and the worker loses. Oliver warned of the emergence of “monolithic empires” such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple which he said “contributed to the rise in inequality”.
He compared Sony, the $18bn technology business, with Snapchat, the $19bn app-based photo sharing service. Sony, he said, had “10,000s of employees” compared to Snapchat which could “fit its entire operation under this one roof”, of just 1,000 ACTU delegates. Digital disruption and globalisation were combining to cause a ‘trickle up’ effect – “more money at the top, less at the bottom, and income not being distributed fairly. Australia was now “11th most unequal of 34 OECD members.

A key issue from Dave Oliver is his report on union governance and refutation of the Royal Commission into so-called Union Corruption. I can assure readers unions are not corrupt and have good to best practice accountability.

Now I list more from my selection of important issues.

1. APHEDA: Union Aid Abroad was prominent and please join and support the aid programmes.
A most interesting history book of APHEDA was launched by Gareth Evans and with new APHEDA director Kate Lee and founder Dr Helen McCue.
APHEDA book with Kate Lee
I recommend you buy a copy of “Livelihoods and Liberation Struggles. 30 Years of Australian Worker Solidarity.” by Danni Cooper.
APHEDA launch
2. International guests
Speakers from and support for their struggles Bangladesh Amirul Haque Amin, President, National Trade Union Federation of Garment and Textile Workers in Bangladesh, about the deplorable working conditions in his country, see TCFUA campaign in solidarity.
Cambodia Sar Mora, President of the Cambodian Food and Services Workers Federation,
PNG Daniel Mathew, Organiser at the PNG Maritime and Transport workers Union
International guests ACTU
From Timor Leste KSTL Almerio Villa Nova General Workers Union was present.

Almerio Villa Nova and Chris White

Almerio Villa Nova and Chris White

Congress supportsTimor Leste in their oil/gas negotiations with the Australian government for a fair sea boundaries. Timor Leste is very poor. Congress recognises that the people and government of Timor Leste are still seeking justice in a fair division of resources in the Timor Sea in the Greater Sunrise Oilfields. Congress calls on the Australian Government to:1: Acknowledge its unlawful and unjust claim to a continental shelf boundary north of the median line between Australia and Timor Leste and adhere to the principles of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea impartially and fairly; and 2: Commence immediate negotiations to settle the eastern and western boundaries of the Timor Gap between Australia, Timor Leste and Indonesia. Mover: Paul McAleer, MUA Seconded: Rita Mallia, CFMEU

3. Building Commission Left and right unions combine to condemn the prosecution of hundreds of individual construction workers by Tony Abbott’s building commission.
Scott McDivine AWU
These workers are accused of taking industrial action to defend apprenticeships, local labour, safety, wages conditions and union representation. The building commission has chosen to prosecute these workers as individuals in order to intimidate all construction workers and refuses to enforce the law against employers who steal workers wages and entitlements or engage in sham contracting and Phoenix company arrangements.
CFMEU Dave Noonan, Scott McDivine AWU should have building watchdog-police force for employers and their exploitative practices.

Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC

Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC


ACTU Congress declares its full support for Commonwealth public sector workers, under attack by the Abbott Government through jobs cuts, outsourcing and attacks on rights and real wages in bargaining.

ACTU Congress recognises the work of the Community and Public Sector Union and other Commonwealth public sector unions in defending workers against the Abbott Government’s attacks.
Congress notes the vital role of public sector workers in supporting families, communities and businesses across our country through the delivery of programs and services we all rely on.

Congress condemns the Coalition’s attacks on the Commonwealth public sector including:
• More than 17,000 jobs cut since the Federal Election;
• Budget funding cuts to the CSIRO, Tax Office and ABC;
• $80b cuts to health and education; and
• A whole of Government program of outsourcing and privatisation, with proposals to outsource Medicare payments and other functions.

Congress further condemns Government for attacking the rights, conditions and real wages of 160,000 Commonwealth workers in bargaining, noting these workers are already under pressure from deep job cuts.
Congress notes that Government bargaining policy driven by Minister Eric Abetz, requires 116 Commonwealth agencies to put forward draconian offers including stripping existing rights out of enterprise agreements, cutting conditions, pay offers of 0-1.5% per annum and attacks on workers’ right to be represented by a union.

Congress notes that 12 months after the expiry of 116 Commonwealth agreements, workers have overwhelmingly rejected the Government’s harsh agenda, including 95% of staff in Minister Abetz’s own Department, not a single agreement has been reached and Government faces the largest round of Commonwealth industrial action in 30 years.

Despite this, the Government remains intransigent, refusing to allow agencies to genuinely negotiate and with Minister Abetz refusing to meet the CPSU to discuss bargaining since January 2014, while making repeated public attacks on CPSU and the Government attacking public sector workers, such as in the paid parental leave debate.

Congress resolves to support these workers in their fight to protect their jobs, rights and living standards and the public services that our community relies on. ACTU supports the Safeguard campaign, and encourages affiliates to mobilise support through the union movement to protect these workers.

5. ACTU push is to extend the paid parental leave scheme from 18 to 26 weeks and pursue full income replacement, in a clear rejection of the Abbott Government’s winding back of the scheme in the Budget a fortnight ago.
Congress endorsed a mandated top-up of the government scheme to full wage replacement to ensure a co-contribution from employers.
Scheme designed to complement employer payments – see Policies below.

The government is legislating against mothers who have access to both the taxpayer and employer funded schemes as “double-dippers” and will bank almost $1 billion in savings from the newly restricted scheme. But unions argue the government scheme was only ever designed to complement employer schemes with the goal of full income replacement.

6. Precarious work. See details in the policies. ACTU Congress Calls for Action on Labour Hire and Coordinate a National System of Licensing, Regulation. Congress believes secure and permanent work is the preferred model of employment. The union movement opposes the growth of casual, temporary labour hire. Such arrangements avoid employer obligations and deny workers the rights direct employees have.

7. Training is union business – Abbott Government attacks on the role of unions in the national training system leave no voice for workers.

8.Extra pressure on the Federal Government to protect Australian jobs and stop exploitation as official figues indicate that about 10 per cent of workers are now in this country are on a variety of temporary work visas.Support for Ship Building campaign.
A fresh focus on how we can improve the job security and conditions of members in at a time of massive disruption of markets, businesses and supply chains due to digital technology.

9.TPP resolution: Trans Pacific Partnership TPP – 3cr reports on this only because of the details in Wikileaks.
Arthur Rorris

Agreed at the ACTU Congress Kevin Bracken MUA Victoria and Arthur Rorris South West Trades and Labour Council that all unions are calling for Abbott to release the TPP for Parliament and public debate; END TO SECRECY. We know its all about more dominance by corporations. Multi-nationals want to have their interests override our Australian standards, that undermines our sovereignty. We are supposed to be independent. This is a big battle in US as 600 of their top companies want them but are facing huge opposition; so, is the campaign building in the pacific nations; we all want our workers rights to be protected; our environmental protection; our health standards etc The campaign against the TPP is hotting up.


Earlier at The Unions-Communities Roundtable on TPP at the ACTU Conference Fringe Event, attended by nearly 100 participants, including ACTU union delegates and representatives from Choice, Get Up, Friends of the Earth, Spirit of Eureka, Western Suburbs Unions and Communities, AFTINET, Lawyers Alliance, Stop TPP Australia, and others. Strong speeches by Greens Senator Peter Whish Wilson,Andrew Dettmar, Pat Ranald and Sam Castro and others. Unanimously passed motion calling on the government to release the secretive TPP text or withdraw from negotiations immediately.

Andrew Dettmar
MUA rally held later


10. AWU Reserve Domestic Gas campaign: we export our gas but we are the only country that as a result does not keep the price of gas consumed by Australians low, down—website

THE union movement has thrown its support behind the Australian Workers’ Union Reserve Our Gas campaign for a domestic gas reservation policy. AWU National Secretary Scott McDine described the absence of an Australian reservation policy as “a fundamental injustice and a fundamental betrayal of ordinary working Australians”. Australian gas prices are set to explode. Why are gas prices about to explode? The impact on your household budget The impact on Australian jobs

11. FIFA Red Card: 2015 ACTU Congress is in support of construction workers in Qatar. Horrific stories of slave-like conditions have emerged in the lead up to 2018 FIFA World Cup, the biggest sporting event in the world. Dave Noonan, CFMEU Construction & General National Secretary, spoke in support of the motion, stating that ‘the beautiful game is built on the blood, sweat and tears of exploited migrant workers.’ Mr Noonan recently visited a worker camp in Qatar with Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, and was stunned by the living conditions. Congress delegates gave FIFA a ‘red card’ to protest corruption and exploitation. photo

12. This ACTU Congress notes that the federal government has initiated a heartless attack on Commonwealth Cleaners. The removal of the Commonwealth Cleaning Guidelines has ripped wages and job security away from the cleaners of Commonwealth buildings. …cleaners in Julie Bishop’s department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have experienced a $6000 a year pay cut. United Voice delegate: “Couldn’t pay me enough to clean up Abbott’s mess.”
Story on cleaners strike action

13. Other strong policies on the environment and global warming;better schools education funding and campaigning still for Gonski funding; for an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC);campaign against Chevron;and many detailed provisions to increase the social wage.

Vintage Reds Canberrajpg

RUM As I am retired, I am welcome at the ACTU retired members booth.


I make some concluding observations from an observer.

1.Unions are strong and defending members well in their own sectors, in their own industries and occupations and we are capable of effective mass union campaigns in the community with quality community unionism organising, but the question is how can the ACTU be more a class struggle force, to unite the working class for radical change.

2. The ACTU is not a socialist party (despite historically socialism is in the objective) so there are no militant anti-capitalist speeches with strategies for socialist actions, although the programmes are linked to workers needs. Gone are the “good old days” at Congresses in the 70s to 90s with strong real battles between the “communist” unions and the “anti-communists” and all those in between and gone when votes are taken and struggles conducted inside left and right factions. There were no inspirational speeches by Union leaders, and only a few from delegates.

3. Not all unions are affiliated to the ALP, but nevertheless most unions are still committed to an ALP Government, wrongly in my view due to recent failures of the Rudd/Gillard government and ALP support for neo-liberal economics. An ALP government supports the corporate masters and fails to deliver for the working class. Unions – except for two I know of – do not support The Greens, that I consider a mistake.

4. I did not see any deep analysis of the different era we are in since the capitalist crisis from 2008 and the continuing corporate and right-wing austerity and neo-fascist like restrictions against citizens. Unions are yet to forge a fighting left class alternative to our capitalist system.

4. As an observer I was not aware at all of the problems behind the scenes. I agree with stage managing the presentation. But it is not a good Congress for reasons not known to me when the biggest union the ANF does not pay its dues and did not vote, not why some from the right AWU and left RTBU abstained from supporting the levy, nor of the debates that had recently occurred when former Assistant Secretary Tim Lyons announced a failed bid to challenge Dave Oliver.

5. The ACTU continues with its Organising Works programme (and at the UTLC of SA I was fully supportive), but the same policies that have only worked to an extent as the union growth in numbers has stabilised but not improved. I could not help but be concerned to hear no criticism of past ACTU OW. For example, it is clear that an effective winning strike can be central to recruiting and holding members, such as the current CPSU struggle, yet union training unionists to win protected action let alone unprotected action is not central to union training and has to be remedied.

6. One of my key political priorities that of peace and not war, highlighted on many occasions on this blog was not mentioned; no resolution to kick out the US marines in Darwin nor for an independent and peaceful foreign policy. Peace should be union business. More can be made by unions to resist the Abbott government relying on fears of war and terror. But maybe this ACTU Congress focus on bread and butter issues for working class families is sufficient.

Test these following union policies by debating the issues. I reproduce one section here and other policies not covered here but I urge a reading.

Workers’ Rights policies
Minimum wage
Australia has had the biggest drop in the minimum wage as a percentage of the average wage of any OECD country between 2003 and 2013. Congress is committed to raising the National Minimum Wage to reduce the ever increasing gap between the minimum wage and the average full-time wage.

Read the strong policy to protect penalty rates.

Right to strike

Right to strike

Congress acknowledges that some of the most vulnerable employees rely on penalty rates to make ends meet. These employees include the low paid, casual workers, women and those in regional and rural areas. Many employees who receive penalty rates are also dependent upon minimum pay rates or work part-time, and penalty rates are a vital component of their income. Congress resolves to continue to vigorously oppose any attempts to reduce penalty rates in the minimum safety net.
< strong>A FAIR AWARD SAFETY NET see details and includes Congress notes that the Fair Work Act has not been successful in stamping out exploitative individual agreements and that there are some parallels between the uses of WorkChoices era AWAs and Fair Work Act Individual Flexibility Arrangements. Affiliates will defend the integrity of the safety net against these practices and will campaign for the abolition of individual flexibility arrangements.

Unions to campaign for improved Unfair Dismissal provisions.

SECURITY OF ENTITLEMENTS 26. Congress believes that no employee should be left short-changed when their employer becomes insolvent. The ACTU and Unions will continue to advocate for reforms to the Fair Entitlements Guarantee, the Corporations Act and the Fair Work Act. Please read details.
Improving the Bargaining system involves 2 Modernising:
Congress notes that imposing restrictions on the content of collective agreements is inconsistent with international obligations and in particular article 4 of the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention and article 3 of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention.
Congress is firmly of the view that there is no place in our industrial relations laws for restrictions on the content of collective agreements.
Workers should be free to make a judgment on the merits of the matters they seek to protect and the interests they seek to advance when bargaining with their employer. This assists in accommodating the changing needs and circumstances of different types of businesses, employment relationships, workers and communities.
In particular, Congress is concerned to ensure collective agreements (or other collective instruments and enforceable arrangements) can cover labour hire workers who are economically dependent servants and agents of an entity or host employer with which they have no “employment relationship” for any “matter” to “pertain to”. At a minimum, agreements should apply to work performed at the workplace rather than to specific employers in a labour supply chain.
Congress calls for the removal of the requirement that bargaining be restricted to matters pertaining to the employment relationship in order to ensure that the industrial relations system is relevant, responsive and fair.
Congress opposes any restrictions on agreement content which prevent workers and employers from freely agreeing to improve upon the statutory schemes for unfair dismissal and entry by union representatives.
WSN  Right To Strike flyler - front page - FINAL

Congress notes that the Fair Work Act’s primary focus is on enterprise level bargaining and does not adequately support bargaining across sectors or industries.

Failure to negotiate on a sectoral or industry wide basis limits outcomes of bargaining to specific enterprises and does not assist with industry-wide improvements including skills development, training and apprenticeships.
In particular, enterprise bargaining across an industry and/or through and within a supply chain is more reflective of the modern organisation of industries operating on the basis of joint production and joint employment. Further, individual agencies in the public sector do not generally have the powers of an independent enterprise but are subject to Government policy in relation to bargaining.

In many industries, enterprise-level bargaining can encourage competition based almost entirely on the capacity of a single enterprise to undercut industry standards and reduce labour costs which results in a “race to the bottom” and the exploitation of the most vulnerable workers rather than competition on the basis of productivity, service or quality.
Congress believes that workers have a right to organize and negotiate their terms and conditions of employment at the level which achieves the best outcomes for them, which allows them to bargain with the actual decision-maker for their enterprise, and which is efficient and delivers consistency in outcomes.

In particular, Congress advocates for law reform to address the joint employment nature of arrangements between host employer, labour hire provider and worker. The Fair Work Act should be amended to recognise that both labour hire operator and host employer have a role in observing workers’ rights and entitlements.

Congress calls for amendments to the Fair Work Act to facilitate and support parties negotiating arrangements which have industry-wide, sector-wide or supply chain impact. Once set by single or particular enterprise agreements or individual contracts it should not be possible to undercut and undermine these standards.
Congress supports the development of industry based councils which aim to collaboratively address the key issues facing both employers and employees and develop strategies to promote and progress the industry.
Congress believes legislation should require all employers and supply chain participants to be accountable to their workers, unions and the community on how their supply chains are structured and operated. This should extend to enforceable bargaining and to ensuring a transparent and public disclosure of supply chain arrangements with appropriate penalties for failure to do so.

On insecure work where not much progress across the board from Rudd/Gillard was made, the ACTU continues to campaign for:
1. a) The opportunity to convert insecure work into secure work, including labour hire employees having the right to convert to the “host” employer;
2. b) Minimum engagement protections;
3. c) Fair and predictable pay and hours of work;
4. d) A say about how, where, and when they work, and to be consulted about change;
5. e) Access to important conditions like annual leave, paid personal leave, overtime, penalty rates and long service leave;
6. f) Protection from unfair dismissal;
7. g) Quality skills, training and career opportunities;
8. h) Better protections to workers employed indirectly through labour hire and agency arrangements, including prohibiting these workers from being paid less than a relevant collective agreement;
9. i) Elimination of disguised employment arrangements like sham contracting;
10. j) A healthy and safe work environment;
11. k) No zero hour contracting; and
12. l) Measures that empower workers in insecure work to build a working life based on dignity, respect and fair recognition of their work.

12. Congress notes the substantial growth of labour hire agencies in recent years which currently constitutes a $19.3 billion industry comprising over 5400 entities. The lack of effective and proper regulation of the labour hire sector often encourages undercutting behaviour and exploitation of vulnerable workers. Many labour hire agencies are insufficiently capitalized and act as little more than conduits by which casual workers are deployed to a host employer as a means of reducing costs. The engagement of many labour hire agencies is symptomatic of an increasing shifting of risk from the host employer to the employee.
13. Many labour hire agencies ignore the provisions of industrial instruments and applicable laws by avoiding tax liability, and non-payment or underpayment of return to work premiums.
15. Congress supports the establishment of a comprehensive national scheme for the registration, licensing, accreditation and regulation of labour hire agencies.
16. Congress notes that this would not be a unique or radical move – throughout the OECD the UK, Canada, Korea, Japan, Germany, Austria, Spain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, France, Italy and Portugal all operate licensing systems or codes of conduct that protect the rights and entitlements of labour hire employees.


13. All workers deserve access to an independent umpire that can resolve disputes in accordance with equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case.
14. Congress rejects the notion that workers should be subject to any prejudice in bargaining merely because of the industry in which they work, the level at which they choose to bargain or the economic power of their employer. Congress calls for the abolition of the Fair Work Building Commission, and any regulatory body or procurement guidelines which limit the rights workers have under the Fair Work Act. …
15. Congress believes that all agreements must meet a genuine ‘better off overall test’.

6. Consistent with the principle that parties should be free to determine the level at which they bargain, bargaining for multiple employer agreements and multi-agency public sector agreements should involve the same rights, processes and facilitation from the Fair Work Commission as applied to single employer agreements in all cases where:
a) there is agreement to bargain by the employers or government concerned; or
b) there is majority support from their collective workforce; subject only to a simple ‘public interest’ test.

Congress calls for the Fair Work Act to be maintained and improved to ensure that:
a) it continues to contain clear prohibitions on individual employers or employees opting out of a collective agreement;
b) collective agreements continue not to be permitted to cover only one employee; and
c) enterprise agreements are not able to be made with a small number of employees prior to the engagement of the rest of the workforce.
Congress regards the use of Individual Flexibility Clauses as inappropriate …

Congress notes that workers must be free to appoint their bargaining representatives. Affiliates are committed to working co-operatively in single bargaining units that represent the collective interests of employees.
To ensure equal access to collective bargaining for all workers, Congress calls for amendments to competition and consumer legislation to permit unrestricted union representation for independent contractors.
Congress affirms that in any bargaining process, workers have a right to be informed and represented …

Congress believes that the statutory good faith bargaining obligations should be seen as constituting substantive and not merely procedural obligations. The legislation should make clear that a party is not acting consistently with good faith bargaining obligations if the intention is to simply avoid the making of a collective agreement, regardless of its terms. …
Congress will lobby to strengthen the bargaining provisions of the Fair Work Act, including:
a) requiring employers to facilitate meetings of workers and union representatives nominated by the relevant union in paid time within 14 days of the notification time for the agreement;
b) requiring employers to disclose relevant and material information , including internal accounts, budgets and forecasts, to bargaining parties in a timely manner, while ensuring genuinely confidential information is treated appropriately;
c) requiring the principal decision maker of the employer or a direct delegated representative to participate in the bargaining process;
d) prohibiting employers from submitting an agreement to a vote until the bargaining representatives are agreed on a course or bargaining is at an impasse;
e) promotion of the expectation that bargaining parties should reach an agreement unless there are genuine reasons based on reasonable grounds not to do so;
f) the need for restorative and effective legal remedies against bad faith conduct, including non-compliance as a basis for objection to the approval of an agreement and good faith bargaining orders;
g) orders should be available to ensure that unions are able to contact and communicate with workers on sites; and
h) orders should be available to ensure that unions can hold paid meetings with workers during work time over the course of the bargain.

Congress notes in particular the systemic failure in the operation and proper application of the good faith bargaining framework and the inadequacy of existing mechanisms to provide for arbitration when employers refuse to enter into a collective agreement.
The current legislation allows large employers who are able to create significant damage to the Australian economy or an important part of it to access arbitration to resolve a dispute about bargaining, at the significant disadvantage of workers in smaller enterprises or with little bargaining power.
Congress advocates that the Fair Work Commission should be empowered to adopt an expansive approach to pro-actively facilitate bargaining parties in reaching agreement.
Where appropriate, the Fair Work Commission should initiate a form of supervised negotiation process and arbitration should be available where parties are assessed to be on a trajectory towards an intractable dispute, particularly where a party surface bargains or refuses to negotiate a collective agreement. Where parties are seeking their first agreement there should be more liberal access to arbitration conducted by the Fair Work Commission.
Congress recognises that public and government employees may require specific solutions to deal with intransigent employers and calls for the Fair Work Act to be amended to provide access to arbitration in public sector bargaining.

Congress notes the decision in Aurizon Operations Limited; Aurizon Network Pty Ltd; Australian Eastern Railroad Pty Ltd [2015] RWCFB 540 terminating 12 enterprise agreements covering over 6,000 QLD workers.
Congress is concerned by the Full Bench’s interpretation of s226 of the Fair Work Act which allows enterprise agreements to be terminated where to do so is not contrary to the public interest.
Congress condemns the interpretation of s226 by the Full Bench, including its reasoning that (a) collective bargaining is not a central object of the Act and (b) that it will be in the interest of employees and the employer if the business can enhance its competitive position…and compete more effectively for market opportunities” regardless of the employer’s existing profits, market share and competitiveness during the life of the agreements.
Congress notes that the employer involved in this decision earned $300 million in the 2013/14 financial year and held 70-75% market share while the agreements were in force.

Enterprise agreements allow employees and employers the freedom to make a judgement on the matters they seek to advance with reference to the needs and circumstances of an enterprise at the time. The sanctity of such agreements, nominally expired or otherwise, must be protected in all but the most limited of circumstances. …
…Congress affirms the need for good faith bargaining processes to apply equally to ‘greenfields’ agreements. Congress rejects assertions that there is a need for unique provisions for Greenfield sites, which are not supported by evidence. …

Congress notes that many workers are deterred from, or unable to enforce their agreement, NES and award rights because:
a) Modern award dispute resolution clauses provide that the Fair Work Commission cannot arbitrate a matter arising under the award or NES without the consent of both parties;
b) Workers cannot take protected industrial action over a dispute about an award or NES matter;
c) Seeking relief in a competent court for a breach of the award or NES is an expensive and time-consuming proposition, so is rarely taken by workers;
d) Not all agreements provide for the mandatory settlement of disputes about the application and operation of their agreement; and
e) The Fair Work Act prohibits workers from accessing the Fair Work Commission for assistance to deal with disputes about the reasonableness of an employer’s refusal to a request for flexible work arrangements to extend a period of unpaid parental leave at all.

Congress therefore asserts that the Fair Work Act does not provide ‘accessible and effective’ dispute resolution options for disputes about matters arising under agreements, awards or the NES.
Without recourse to arbitration for disputes about all agreement, award, NES and other work related matters, there is no way of guaranteeing the effective and on-going settlement of disputes about these matters.
Congress calls for amendments to the Fair Work Act to empower the Fair Work Commission to arbitrate disputes about these matters.

Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn

Congress affirms that all workers must have the right to take industrial action. No worker or union should be threatened with coercive or punitive orders from a Court as a consequence of exercising their right to strike or engaging in legitimate political protest.
Congress notes that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has described the Fair Work Act’s processes for regulating access to protected industrial action as ‘excessive’.
Legally protected industrial action should be available to workers seeking a collective agreement, without the necessity for a secret ballot or without the condition that bargaining has commenced.
Irrespective of whether unions utilise internal processes, a ballot agent or choose to avail themselves of ballot processes administered by the FWC or the Australian Electoral Commission, there should be no role for employers other than a positive obligation of non- interference.
The Fair Work Act should make it clear that duly authorised industrial action continues to be authorised and available to all union members irrespective of changes in the size or composition of the workforce seeking to be covered by an agreement.
Congress notes that workers are unduly prejudiced by lockouts and that it is not a legitimate function of industrial relations law to provide employers with legal rights to combat worker collectivism and solidarity. The Fair Work Act should therefore prohibit employer lockouts.
In line with ILO recommendation 188, international best practice and previous Congress policy, employers should not be permitted to engage replacement labour during periods of protected industrial action.
The right to take protected industrial action should not be subject to administrative interference other than in the exceptional circumstances of:
a) Threats to life, personal safety or health, or the welfare, of the population or part of it; or
b) Significant damage to the Australian economy or an important part of it.
Engaging in bargaining in sectors or across an industry should not diminish the right to take protected industrial action.
There should be no power to a Minister to terminate protected action. Orders to stop or prevent unprotected industrial action must be the domain of the Fair Work Commission in the first instance and the Fair Work Commission must have discretion as to whether it issues those orders.

Congress calls for loopholes that permit employers to coerce workers to stop or cease exercising their rights to take protected action to be closed. In particular, employers should be bound to make full or proportional payments for work performed in the event of protected action constituted by partial work bans. Further, employers should be prohibited from using codes of conduct to threaten or limit workers from taking protected action.

joe hill

joe hill

Congress notes that Australia’s secondary boycott provisions do not conform with the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention of the ILO (Convention No. 87).
Congress also notes that Australia’s current industrial relations laws do not provide a proper framework for resolving disputes involving secondary boycotts.

Congress calls for the removal of the secondary boycott provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
Congress notes the breadth of issues working Australians face and calls for the right for all workers to take industrial action in support of broader industrial, economic and political objectives.
Congress recognises that government and public sector employees are members of the Australian community and should have the same rights to participate in political and union activity as other workers.


strike as a last resort

strike as a last resort

Congress reaffirms the importance of working people to access independent information, advice and representation.
The right of entry provisions of the FW Act must provide a legal right to access workers at workplaces and place a positive obligation on employers and occupiers of premises to:

. a) Facilitate entry of union officials to all areas of the workplace subject to no unreasonable disruptions of work, safety or privacy concerns;
. b) Facilitate union officials to hold discussions with workers where the workers choose to congregate, such as the lunch room, canteen or tea room;
. c) Continue to require the employer to facilitate transport and accommodation for permit holders where the workplace is in a remote location and provide for workers to have appropriate and timely access to the permit holders on site;
. d) Notify their workforce when union officials will be on site and where they will be located;
. e) Inform workers that they have a right to participate in discussions with the union official;
. f) Provide a private room for discussions where this is requested by employee(s) or the union;
. g) Ensure that any discussions between workers and unions are not subject to any form of intimidation, surveillance, monitoring or any behaviour which might dissuade a worker from choosing to engage with a union official;
. h) Ensure workers have the opportunity to speak to their Union officials without fear, particularly as they first enter the workplace;
. i) Allow union delegates the right to participate in union officials visits to the workplace; and
j) Ensure employee access to advice, information and union representation at work, including the provision of periodic paid union meetings at the workplace.

Further, Congress affirms that the right of entry provisions of the Act must:
. a) Prohibit employers from requiring, directly or indirectly, that workers seek permission or identify themselves to the employer before accessing a union official who is on the premises;
. b) Ensure that unions have a right to enter and inspect records relating to suspected contraventions affecting former, as well as current, workers;
. c) Not require the giving of notice to access documents relevant to the investigation of workplace safety, irrespective of the class of documents that might be required in the course of that investigation; and
. d) Not require 24 hours’ notice for access to worksites as this restricts employees ability to access information and representation from their union.

Congress will lobby to ensure that industrial parties are free to bargain about right of entry arrangements. Congress considers that allowing parties to freely bargain about right of entry will result in cooperative and productive workplace relations.

Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC

Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC

The role and responsibilities of union delegates should be supported in enshrined legal rights which:
. a) Recognise the role of union delegates in the workplace;
. b) Recognise union delegates rights to actively represent union members, including by being participants and advocates in any workplace matter;
. c) Recognise union delegates rights to communicate with employees, particularly new employees and give them the choice of being represented by the union;
. d) Provide delegates reasonable paid time at work to perform their role;
. e) Provide delegates reasonable paid time to represent union members at union forums and industrial tribunals;
. f) Provide paid training for union delegates; and
. g) Provide union delegates access to facilities at the workplace to perform their role.
Union delegates are the elected or appointed representatives of workers in their workplace. Congress will lobby to ensure that industrial parties remain free to bargain about their role, responsibilities and workplace rights over and above any legislated minimum.

yraw voting-badge

yraw voting-badge

Honourary Officials must be allowed paid time off work to fulfil their duties as Officers

Actively represent union members, including by being participants an advocates in any workplace matter.

Congress supports the involvement of workers in decision making processes at the workplace which impact on the work they do and how it is performed and considers this contributes to better workplaces. Congress calls for legislated minimum standards for workers to be genuinely consulted about issues of significance or potential changes to their work prior to final decisions being made.
Congress supports the provision of information to workers about their workplace rights. The current “Fair Work information Statement” should ensure workers are informed about their right to join a union. Employers should provide new workers with short information sessions on their rights at work when this Statement is distributed. Unions should be entitled to present at these sessions.

Congress notes that the purpose of the General Protections of the FW Act is to protect persons with certain attributes, or engaged in certain conduct covered by the FW Act, from ‘adverse action’ including, inter alia, the protection of persons engaged in lawful industrial activity.
Congress recognises that general protections have been effectively read-down by the Courts and are at risk of being undermined.
Congress commits to pursue legislative amendments to reinstate the essentially beneficial and protective operation of the general protections provisions of the FW Act in one of the following ways:
a) b)A positive description of the relevant test of characterisation as an objective test; or
The preclusion of the purely subjective approach to ascertaining the reasons for adverse action.

1. …Congress advocates for a suite of complementary policy and industrial measures to assist parents, carers and other employees to participate in the workforce and accommodate their other responsibilities.
Improved Right to Request Family Friendly Working Arrangements
However, Congress is deeply disappointed that the right to request still does not clearly set out an employer’s obligations to properly consider and make reasonable efforts to accommodate a request and does not provide employees with a right to appeal an employer’s unreasonable refusal of a request.
Congress notes in particular that the right to request a change to working arrangements to meet caring responsibilities or to extend unpaid parental leave are the only two provisions of the FWA which specifically deny workers the procedural justice of a right to appeal an unreasonable refusal unless they are able to negotiate the right as part of their workplace agreement. Congress regards this as out of step with community standards of equity and fairness.
Congress will lobby to ensure employers are obligated to properly consider and make reasonable efforts to accommodate family friendly work arrangements and all employees have a right to appeal an employer’s unreasonable refusal to accommodation of their needs by: 
a) Pursuing family friendly work arrangements through the Modern Award Review; and 
b) Campaigning for improvements to the National Employment Standard (NES).
In addition, Congress will continue to bargain for: 
a) Greater employee control over their work arrangements, including shift patterns, rosters, targets and workloads in order to meet their caring responsibilities; and 
b) Equality of opportunities for casual and part-time employees in the workplace, including access to paid leave and working time entitlements.
Workers with family and caring responsibilities are particularly vulnerable to pressure to agree to “Individual Flexibility” clauses if it is often the only way their employer will grant much needed changes to work arrangements to meet caring responsibilities.

Congress regards the use of Individual Flexibility Clauses as inappropriate particularly in the circumstances of workers with caring responsibilities and affirms the 2009 Congress Policy on Individual Flexibility Clauses.

Extending Personal and Carer’s Leave
Congress will continue to bargain for and campaign for improved safety net entitlements to better assist workers with caring responsibilities …see details…
Building on the Paid Parental Leave scheme
Congress notes that the Abbott Government has failed to deliver on its promise to improve the Paid Parental Leave Scheme established in 2011.
Congress will continue to seek improvements to the Paid Parental Leave Scheme
Congress recognises that paid parental leave is a workplace right and should ultimately be codified as an NES entitlement of 26 weeks paid leave.
Given the structure of the current paid parental leave system, Congress resolves to lobby for:
. a) A government funded parental leave scheme of 26 weeks paid at no less than the national minimum wage plus superannuation at the guaranteed contribution rate; and
. b) Mandated top-up of the Government scheme to full wage replacement to ensure a co-contribution from employers.
Unions will seek to improve the NES Leave entitlements and the Paid Parental Leave Scheme… …Where appropriate, unions will bargain for the above improvements, and also for:
. a) Employer top up on the government mandated scheme to full income replacement level;
. b) Increases in employer provided paid parental leave to at least 26 weeks paid parental leave;
. c) Improved paid leave provisions in relation to assisted reproduction or fertility treatment, pregnancy, adoption, childbirth, bonding, surrogacy and breastfeeding; and
. d) Provide employees with the right to return to work part-time from paid or unpaid parental leave.
Dad and Partner Leave
22. Unions will campaign and bargain for an increase to the Dad and Partner Pay Scheme to provide eligible employees with 4 weeks leave rather than 2 and the relevant improvements listed above.

Congress notes and supports the recommendations of the Pregnancy and Return to Work Inquiry conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Congress notes that the adverse action provisions of the Fair Work Act apply only to the extent the adverse treatment is a breach of the relevant state anti-discrimination law and therefore are subject to the state-based inconsistencies in protection against discrimination on the grounds of family or caring responsibilities.
…Unions will campaign for improvements to Commonwealth and State anti-discrimination legislation to…:

…Congress congratulates unions on achieving domestic violence leave for over 1.6 million employees through workplace bargaining. Unions will continue to bargain for provisions designed to protect and support employees who are experiencing family or domestic violence which include:
. a) Dedicated additional paid leave for employees experiencing family or domestic violence, with an aim to achieving 20 days paid leave;
. b) Measures to protect the confidentiality of employee details;
. c) Workplace safety planning strategies to ensure the protection of employees;
. d) Referral of employees to appropriate domestic violence support services;
. e) Appropriate training and paid time off work for agreed roles for nominated contact persons (including union delegates or health and safety representatives);
. f) Access to flexible work arrangements where appropriate; and
. g) Protection against adverse action or discrimination on the basis of disclosure of, experience of, or perceived experience of, family and domestic violence.
Congress will campaign and advocate for paid domestic violence leave as a minimum safety net entitlement through the 2014 modern award process.
Congress believes access to paid domestic violence leave is a right that should be secured in legislation and will campaign and advocate for it to be included in the National Employments Standards. Campaigning efforts will place pressure on the Federal
Government to extend the right to paid domestic violence leave to all working Australians, including casual workers.
In addition, Congress supports:
. a) The creation of a new ground of discrimination (including in state and federal anti- discrimination legislation and the Fair Work Act) to better protect employees who are experiencing, have experienced, or are perceived to be experiencing family or domestic violence against adverse action;
. b) Initiatives to generate greater awareness and adoption of workplace initiatives to support cultural changes aimed at eliminating family and domestic violence; and
. c) The conduct of appropriate further research to identify the key issues relating to the interface of family and domestic violence and the workplace.

Congress recognises that access to high quality, affordable childcare is central to enabling families balance work and care for children and notes the Congress policy on Early Childhood Education and Care. Confidence in care for children and good access enables increased labour market participation by women, as despite endeavours to encourage men to take up the role of primary carers of young children women are still disproportionately primary carers.

Congress recognises that Public Holidays and weekends are important opportunities for families, friends and the community as a whole to spend together and notes the Congress policy on Penalty Rates and Public Holidays and Weekends.
Congress notes the negative impacts rostering can have on work life balance, particularly in light of:
. a) limited access to affordable, quality early education and care ;
. b) the use of punitive rostering to discriminate against workers particularly pregnant employees and those with caring responsibilities; and
. c) the impact of precarious work, insecure work and casualisation on low paid workers and women workers.
Congress further notes that due to advances in technology and the use of personal electronic devices workers are commonly required to work beyond their rostered hours without appropriate compensation.
The ACTU will establish a working group to consider the impact that rostering and technology has on work life balance across all industries and develop strategies to address these widespread issues.
Fly-in Fly-out and other forms of long-distance commuting are becoming more widespread across the resources industry. Employers’ growing preference for itinerant over residential workforces is having severe impacts on workers, families and communities including:
a) Discrimination against local workers in regional areas;
b) Lack of investment in training;
c) Decline of population, economic activity and social amenity in regional communities;
d) Punishing rosters leading to fatigue, family breakdown and mental illness; and
e) Lack of standards and personal freedoms in accommodation camps.
Workers in mining and resources projects increasingly have no choice about their commuting and accommodation arrangements.
Congress notes the urgency of this issue and welcomes initiatives from the Western Australian bipartisan Parliamentary inquiry into FIFO suicides and the Queensland Government inquiring into the impacts of FIFO and commuting. However more action is needed.
Congress calls on all levels of government to work together to ensure:
. a) FIFO is limited to genuinely remote and temporary operations;
. b) worker accommodation camps meet minimum standards with rights and freedoms for workers;
. c) companies may not discriminate against local workers;
. d) shifts and rosters are developed in agreement with employees and their unions to encourage family time and reduce fatigue; and
. e) tax arrangements do not favour the employment of itinerant over residential workforces.


Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC

Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC

Every worker has a right to a healthy and safe work environment, so that all Australians can go to work and come home safely.
All parties must ensure there are laws, processes, and systems in place that mandate that no Australian worker be disadvantaged if they are injured at work. A ‘race to the bottom’ to reduce injured workers’ benefits or their access to safe working conditions is unacceptable.

Congress acknowledges that insecure work, in its many forms, is linked with poor safety outcomes and has negative impacts on the physical and psychosocial health of workers. Conversely, the provision of secure, ongoing work is a key factor in improving health and safety outcomes for workers. This has a particular impact on vulnerable sections of the workforce, including young workers, who face particular work health and safety risks due to their age and the generally low skilled nature of their work.
Although Australian unions are supportive of a nationally consistent legislative scheme for work health and safety matters, any changes to the current laws or jurisdictional coverage must not result in a diminution of the rights and entitlements of any worker, regardless of where they live and the location of their workplace.
Congress reaffirms its position that consistent arrangements are needed for all injured workers in terms of rehabilitation, return to work programs and compensation. While the long standing aim of establishing a national scheme to deliver these outcomes remains valid, Congress acknowledges that this is not the only way to achieve this objective. As such, Congress affirms that achieving national consistency and world’s best practice in these areas is of paramount importance.
Congress affirms the work health rights of every worker, in particular the right to privacy and autonomy in relation to their health.

Congress reaffirms its commitment to the Union Charter of Workplace Rights, as outlined in the 2012 Congress Policy, which sets out rights in relation to workplace health, safety, compensation and rehabilitation.
Health and safety is a union issue and a basic human right of the utmost importance to Australian workers. The protection and promotion of health and safety is integral to union activity and growth. Australian unions will continue to campaign for increased rights and protections in all work health and safety laws, including the 2011 version of the model Work Health and Safety Act and Regulation.

This Congress acknowledges the importance of tripartitism and genuine consultation with workers’ representatives. All work health and safety, compensation and rehabilitation laws must be developed in a tripartite manner. …
Workers’ union representatives must be fully included in all governing and regulatory bodies that provide oversight and compliance into health and safety matters. Representation is best achieved through membership on relevant Boards or committees, so that workers have a voice in the procedures and administration that govern their health and safety at work.
Congress affirms that industrial manslaughter should be an offence under work health and safety legislation or other legislation as most appropriate. The elements of the offence should include:
. a) Where a worker dies in the course of employment or at a place of work or is injured or contracts a disease, injury or illness in the course of employment and later dies;
. b) Where the conduct (by way of act or omission) of a person caused the death, injury or illness; and
. c) Where the person was reckless or negligent about causing serious harm or death to the worker.
Congress affirms that in order to ensure compliance with work health and safety laws, there needs to be effective enforcement of the legislation, including a more active approach to prosecutions by the relevant WHS regulators. To this end, Congress supports the right of unions to initiate prosecutions for breaches of work health and safety laws in all jurisdictions, (as existed in the NSW OHS Act 2000).
Further, the model WHS legislation should be amended to include a provision in relation to personal liability, to hold to account individuals in decision-making positions of authority, such as company directors, for any instances of criminal negligence resulting in the death of a worker.

As a further deterrent, Congress resolves to lobby for higher fines for corporations and company directors found guilty of wrongdoing leading to the death of a worker, with penalties tied to the company’s size in such a way that it acts as an effective deterrent to wrongdoing.
Congress supports legislative change that would require Safe Work Australia to refer to Australian Securities and Investments Commission, details of companies and their directors charged with offences under the various WHS Acts and other OHS Acts. This would ensure there is no unregulated resignation of directors or administration, liquidation and phoenixing of companies in the process of health and safety prosecution or paying subsequent fines Safe Work Australia should play a coordinating role in gathering the necessary data from the health and safety regulators to provide to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on a real time basis.
Congress calls for the Corporations Act to be amended to require that upon notification to a state regulator of a charge under health and safety legislation, or upon notification of a death, serious injury or disease, no corporate changes to the relevant employing entity or entities can be made, without an order of the relevant court of superior record, approving such change as having no bearing on potentially liable officers or potential corporate liability.

Improved health and safety outcomes are achieved through good workplace organisation, with workers represented and supported by their unions.
Australian unions commit to improving our organising capacities by increasing the numbers, and improving the density of, union-trained and democratically elected Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs).
Congress reaffirms the right of workers to be effectively represented by an elected HSR, taking into account the number of workers in a work group, the nature of the work and work arrangements. HSRs must be easily accessible to the workers they represent and the employer must facilitate that access.
Congress affirms the right of all HSRs to seek assistance where desired from the union representative of their choice, and to issue Provisional Improvement Notices where an employer is in breach of health and safety laws.
If a work group is made up of multiple workplaces, HSRs should be provided with the means and transportation to physically attend any workplace in the Designated Work Group (DWG) at the request of a member of the DWG.
Working time should be made available and costs associated with travel to attend these workplaces should be covered by the employer.
Congress supports legislative change to allow for regional and roving HSRs.
Congress affirms that all HSRs have the right to access training of their choice in paid work time, with all out of pocket expenses paid by the employer.
Completion of, and access to, training should not be a prerequisite for elected HSRs exercising their full range of functions and powers.
The minimum days training available to HSRs should be:
. a) 5 days general introductory training in the first year of the three year term of office; and
. b) 7 days over the following two years of the term. This may be refresher training or industry/topic specific training.

Congress opposes a competency-based approach for training of HSRs in accredited training courses under health and safety law.
Employers should be given at least 14 days’ notice of intention by the HSR to attend the training of their choice, and the employer should facilitate this attendance.
Approval of a HSR training provider to deliver an HSR course in one jurisdiction should be mutually recognised in other jurisdictions (so that the provider does not need to obtain approval from each jurisdiction to deliver the same training course)
The mode of delivery of HSR training must be face-to-face as this is the only mode that ensures networking which promotes learning and knowledge transfer between participants with similar experiences from similar industries.
The focus of HSR training courses should be to provide the necessary knowledge and skills to assist HSRs in their functions and exercising of their powers under health and safety law. The paramount function is to represent the health and safety interests of the workers they represent.
Australian unions commit to campaigning for legislative change to reinsert broad health and safety matters, particularly in relation to HSRs, into awards and agreements.
Australian unions will develop clauses, for insertion in workplace agreements, to support and enhance union activity in workplaces, and strengthen the involvement and protection of HSRs and workers. Key elements of such clauses should include:
. a) The role of union delegates in negotiation of work groups and election of HSRs;
. b) Improved number of training days for HSRs;
. c) HSR right to choose and attend, on paid leave, union approved training courses.

…Congress supports legislative change which recognises and improves outcomes by removing exposures to unhealthy and unsafe work arrangements, irregular and non- predictable patterns of work and insecure work. This could include, for example, a legislative provision for the election of HSRs specifically for casual workers.
Congress recognises the impact that insecure work can have on the right of ill and injured workers to access leave entitlements, workers compensation and suitable rehabilitation programs.
Congress acknowledges the importance of worker involvement and consultation in all forms of employment.
Congress will ensure that health and safety policies, campaigns and activities seek to improve the rights of workers in insecure work.

Congress notes that foreign workers are often provided with inferior access to safety training, workplace safety and safety consultation. Congress also notes the particularly vulnerable position that foreign workers are often placed due to the reliance of the worker on their employer to maintain not only their employment but also their visa or residency. This makes safety consultation and issue resolution difficult and places too much power with the employer. It also sets a lower standard for all workers, and means that foreign workers are often under-represented by, or have no access to, unions.
Congress calls on the state, territory and Commonwealth governments to target regulatory action in workplaces where significant numbers of foreign workers are present, and specifically amend the immigration laws to prevent employers who threaten or terminate a worker for raising a safety issue, or who have a poor safety record from undertaking further use of international workers.
Congress notes that most workers’ compensation jurisdictions terminate payments for international workers once they return or are returned to their home country. This creates an incentive to not rehabilitate the worker and also creates a cheaper category of workforce if they are injured. This reduced cost of injury has a potential to reduce the incentive to maintain a safe workplace with this vulnerable group of workers.
Congress calls on all jurisdictions to provide adequate workers compensation to foreign workers to at least the same level and duration as the local resident workers when injured.
Further regulations should apply to employers who wish to employ foreign labour, and businesses should only be allowed to engage foreign labour if they have enjoyed a strong health and safety record with no major breaches.

With extremely high levels of work-related injury, disease and death a shameful reality in Australia, Congress reaffirms its position that the rights of injured workers are of fundamental significance.
Congress notes extensive research, which documents that workers in insecure employment are less likely to know their compensation rights, less likely to exercise them and more likely to face negative consequences if they do.
Congress recognises that effective rehabilitation and return to work programs, as well as the provision of economic security through workers’ compensation arrangements, are critically important to injured workers, their families and the wider community.
Accordingly, Congress reaffirms its position that after sustaining a physical or psychological work-related injury, all workers are entitled to comprehensive and quality rehabilitation services and to return to suitable and decent employment. Further, injured workers are entitled to compensation that restores them to the position they enjoyed prior to their injury, including full access to superannuation and leave entitlements.

Congress reaffirms its position that improvements and consistent arrangements are needed for all injured workers in terms of rehabilitation, return to work programs and compensation. While the long standing Congress aim of establishing a national scheme to deliver these outcomes remains valid, Congress acknowledges that this is not the only way to achieve this objective. As such, Congress affirms that achieving national consistency and world’s best practice in these areas is of paramount importance.
Congress reaffirms its opposition to the current neoliberal use of competition between schemes to reduce benefits available to injured/ill workers. Workers compensation should be available on a no-fault basis where an injury “arises out of or in the course of employment”, even where it is the aggravation of an existing injury or disease.
Australian unions call on all workers compensation jurisdictions to update their Deemed Diseases lists as per the Safe Work Australia (SWA) funded report, Deemed Diseases in Australia Report 2015. Current lists of Deemed Diseases are based on the International Labour Organization’s List of Occupational Diseases under Convention 42 created in 1934.
Australian unions will:
. a) In consultation with Trades and Labour Councils (TLCs) and affiliates continue the development of best practice elements of a rehabilitation and compensation system to be used as the benchmark for national and state based negotiations and campaigning;
. b) Work with TLCs and affiliates to coordinate lobbying and activity at the State and other jurisdictional level to maintain and raise standards in each jurisdiction; and
. c) Coordinate a campaign at the national level in partnership with TLC’s and affiliates in each jurisdiction to promote and secure fairer workers’ compensation laws and policy.
Australian unions commit to supporting injured workers and to ensure that education about rehabilitation, return to work arrangements and compensation issues, are included in training for delegates, HSRs and union members.
Congress calls for improvements to be made in the form of: 
a) Comprehensive coverage of the work relationship, including on journeys to and from work, and during recess breaks;
. b) A return to a basis of ‘no-fault’ compensation for all workplace injury and diseases;
. c) Abolition of the illegitimate use of ‘whole of body assessments’, which act to reduce compensation and limit access to statutory lump-sum payments and common law remedies via legislated minimum thresholds;
. d) Introduction of genuine rehabilitation options, including full technical or tertiary retraining;
. e) Removal of time limits and step downs on weekly payments that effectively shift the injured worker onto social security benefits;
. f) Maximising the resources in a scheme by removing profit incentives to third parties, thus ensuring that benefits are distributed to workers; and
. g) Fast and effective conciliation and arbitration of any workers’ compensation matter in dispute by an independent tribunal.
Congress calls on the Federal Government to establish an inquiry as a matter of urgency to examine the extent of cost shifting by workers’ compensation schemes onto injured workers and government services, including the public health system and social security.
Premiums must recover the costs of the system as well as encourage safe work practices.
All workers’ compensation regulators must be properly resourced to carry out their functions properly, including through an increased emphasis on prevention and compliance.
The system of scheme agents and self-insurers should be abolished and all workers compensation functions should be internalised within the regulatory authority.
Trade unions must have the power to enforce non-compliance with workers compensation law together with rights of entry, inspection and other investigative powers.
The relevant tribunals or commissions should provide a quick, easy, effective and legally binding mechanism to resolve disputes about all aspects of the workers compensation system.
Return to work should be elevated as a central tenet of workers compensation by:
. a) placing an absolute obligation on employers to provide suitable duties;
. b) preventing termination of employment unless the injury management plan states that the return to work goal is a different job and a different employer; and
. c) providing incentives for the employment of injured workers.
Weekly payments should be set at a level equivalent to an injured worker’s pre-injury average weekly earnings irrespective of their fitness for work and should not be subject to any caps or step-downs.
Costs associated with medical and all related treatment should be covered for workers compensation purposes with no arbitrary caps or limits.
Work capacity reviews and decisions should be removed from the workers compensation legislation. Consideration of a worker’s functionality should be properly addressed as part of their rehabilitation plan.

Congress opposes any attempts to expand access to self-insurance under the Comcare scheme. Australian unions will campaign against any proposals which will undermine the financial viability of State and territory workers compensation schemes and expand the number of workers covered by the current Comcare scheme, which is an under-resourced and ineffective health and regulator.
Australian unions will campaign to remove legislative and operational restrictions preventing proactive WHS representatives and WHS Regulators from acting in workplaces where multiple jurisdictions operate.
Australian unions will campaign for material improvements to the current Comcare scheme. Of particular concern is the lack of a timely and fair dispute resolution process and the lack of a well-resourced and proactive health and safety regulator.
Australian unions will campaign to return self-insurers who entered the Comcare jurisdiction post-2006 to their relevant state or territory jurisdictions. In the longer term, if Comcare meets union principles of workers compensation, Australian unions may support a mechanism for private companies to become premium payers in the Comcare system
Congress opposes self-insurance for employers as it creates a conflict between profit generation and administration of workers compensation claims and generally limits access to benefits, compromises privacy, undermines the premium pool and discourages workers from exercising their rights. However, Congress recognises that self-insurance currently exists in all jurisdictions. Therefore, Congress believes that self-insurance should only be available to employers who have an exemplary record in health and safety and a demonstrated commitment to workers’ rights. Further, self-insurance licenses must be automatically revoked in cases where there is a workplace death or serious injury and/or repeated non-compliance.
Congress believes that the administration of workers’ compensation by self-insurers must be conducted by arrangements that separate the insurer from the employer, in the same manner as the relationship between a private insurer and the employer as a client, to fully protect workers’ privacy.
Congress calls for workers to have access to an independent body which can review an employer’s self-insurance status. Further, employers seeking to become, or to remain, self- insurers must be able to demonstrate that the majority of their workers genuinely favour this option.

Congress supports the retention of the SeaCare scheme of workers’ compensation and occupational health and safety for Australian seafarers as an independent Statutory Authority operating under Commonwealth legislation. Congress opposes the absorption of the SeaCare Authority into the governance arrangements of the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (Comcare) nor into a Department of State.
Congress notes that, for workers at sea who have been injured and are returning to work, it is often appropriate and desirable to place that worker with another employer to undertake rehabilitation. Australian unions support the development of group training approaches to ensure workers can be placed in meaningful jobs while rehabilitating.
Congress urges the Commonwealth Government to allocate Budget funding to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) to enable it to properly perform its OHS Inspectorate functions under the Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) Act 1993 (OHS (MI) Act).
Congress calls on the Federal Government to harmonise the OHS (MI) Act and Regulations made under that Act with the model WHS Act 2011 and WHS Regulations as appropriate.


With extremely high levels of work-related injury, disease and death a shameful reality in Australia, Congress reaffirms its position that the rights of injured workers are of fundamental significance.
Congress notes extensive research, which documents that workers in insecure employment are less likely to know their compensation rights, less likely to exercise them and more likely to face negative consequences if they do.
Congress recognises that effective rehabilitation and return to work programs, as well as the provision of economic security through workers’ compensation arrangements, are critically important to injured workers, their families and the wider community.
Accordingly, Congress reaffirms its position that after sustaining a physical or psychological work-related injury, all workers are entitled to comprehensive and quality rehabilitation services and to return to suitable and meaningful employment. Further, injured workers are entitled to compensation that restores them to the position they enjoyed prior to their injury.
Congress calls upon employers and governments to work with unions to provide rehabilitation services that achieve maximum recovery and prepare injured workers, wherever possible, to return to their previous position. In cases where this is not possible, then workers must be redeployed to the most suitable position in respect of their aptitude and capacity.
Congress calls upon governments to work cooperatively to ensure that existing rehabilitation services are properly accredited, coordinated and expanded so that they are accessible to all injured workers.
Congress recognises that in many cases the current rehabilitation practices applied to injured workers does not always facilitate their return to suitable and meaningful employment. As such, effective rehabilitation services and programs must also deliver genuine opportunities to meet this objective.
Congress believes that for rehabilitation services to be effective they must:
. a) Be implemented properly and without regard to the insurers’ cost assessments;
. b) Ensure that employers health and safety management systems enable the immediate reporting of injuries;
. c) Return workers to their full capacity in their workplace, community, family and life;
. d) Return workers to safe, meaningful and durable employment as early as possible;
. e) Actively involve unions and their members in consultation and decision making;
. f) Have the commitment of the employer to the above aims; and
. g) Be independent of the employer or insurance company.
Congress supports the development by unions and employers of rehabilitation policies and programs that are based on the following principles:
. a) Voluntary participation by the injured worker;
. b) Respect for the worker’s privacy;
. c) No loss of income while participating in the program, including the accrual of leave and employer superannuation contributions;
. d) Eliminating or controlling the hazard that caused the injury;
. e) Consistency with the medical advice of the worker’s own doctor;
. f) Employer cooperation in the provision of suitable duties, modified work environment and retraining of redeployment opportunities;
. g) Access to the advice and assistance of multi-disciplinary professional teams;
. h) The injured worker’s right to choose their rehabilitation provider;
. i) That rehabilitation be provided to the injured worker at the closest possible location to their home or workplace;
. j) The development of appropriate and effective individual return to work plans;
. k) An individual assessment of the injured worker and their workplace;
. l) The adaptation of the workplace to suit the injured worker’s capacity;
. m) The development of an appropriate timetable for returning the injured worker to their previous position, or the most suitable alternative, that is consistent with the level of their capacity;
. n) The involvement of union representatives and injured workers in decisions concerning alternative duties, rehabilitation programs and retraining; and
. o) The commitment by all parties to provide an environment in the workplace that is supportive of the injured worker with adequate training of workers, supervisors and management in the rehabilitation policies and procedures adopted.
The employer must ensure that participation in a rehabilitation program or the rehabilitation program itself will not prejudice an injured person. Furthermore, an injured worker must not be dismissed or have their employment damaged because of a work- related injury or any resulting temporary impairment.
In the event of dismissal of the injured worker or damage to their employment, the applicable tribunal will be empowered to review and remedy the situation.
Regulatory authorities must enforce workers’ rights to rehabilitation and to return to work.
All workers must be provided with a comprehensive statement detailing their entitlements regarding rehabilitation and return to work.

Asbestos-containing materials are still abundant and are present in many residential and commercial dwellings throughout Australia. Congress confirms its position that asbestos is a known hazard and that to prevent further exposures and hence asbestos related diseases, asbestos must be eliminated from the built environment.
Congress supports the ongoing role of the independent Asbestos Safety Eradication Agency and the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council, and the adoption and implementation of:
. a) A national strategic plan for the elimination of all asbestos-containing material (ACM) from the built environment by 2030;
. b) Carrying out a national audit of asbestos containing materials (with government buildings and dump sites a priority);
. c) The development and adoption of a prioritised removal program, starting with government –owned buildings;
. d) Ensuring asbestos containing materials are only removed by licensed removalists;
. e) The adoption of an ‘Asbestos Content Certificate’, identifying the location and condition of asbestos containing materials, obtainable by the owner of a private domestic residence at the point of lease, sale or renovation;
. f) Coordinating education and awareness activities; and
. g) Coordinating the removal of asbestos containing materials from the built environment.
Congress calls on all levels of government to work with the union movement and a broad spectrum of asbestos organisations in the establishment and ongoing work of the Council so that we can extend and implement successful and safe asbestos awareness, control and eradication programs across the nation.
Congress also welcomes regulations requiring licencing of asbestos removalists and asbestos removalists’ supervisors; regulations on demolition and the requirement for removalists to participate in nationally approved training.
The ACTU, TLCs, and affiliates will continue to lobby governments for the removal of ACMs from the built environment by 2030 and to raise awareness of the hazards of asbestos amongst members and the broader community, including documented, time-limited remediation/replacement plans.
Congress proposes the establishment of an asbestos eradication fund that is levied on all construction materials so that these functions of asbestos removal can be adequately resourced.
Congress proposes that all asbestos eradication be given full tax deductibility status to encourage asbestos removal from residential properties as is already available through current general tax deductibility mechanisms for commercial and investment remises.
The WHS Regulations should be amended to prohibit asbestos removal except by a licensed asbestos removalist.
Australian unions propose that a mandatory training package is developed and maintained for an asbestos awareness course with registration, regulation and oversight of those training organisations that can deliver the course. Asbestos awareness training should also be a mandatory component in all tertiary and other vocational training courses relating to the building and construction industry and allied industries with modifications made to enable identification and safe work methods for each occupation.
Following the development of the Asbestos Identification Training Course, it should be made compulsory through amendment to the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, for all workers who stand a likelihood of being exposed to asbestos due to the nature of their work, to complete this training prior to engaging in such work. The regulator should be empowered to regulate who can provide the course.
Congress recommends that each jurisdictional government establish a standing committee, made up of representatives of the community, workers and government of all levels for the purpose of driving the management (including identification, warnings, removal, demolition, remediation, dumping) of asbestos from the built environment. This may be similar in nature to the ACT Asbestos Response Taskforce Community and Expert Reference Group.
The committee should implement the above functions of the ASEA and coordinate the removal of asbestos from the built environment, to implement and make funding arrangements for asbestos removal activities (including Asbestos Content Certificates) and asbestos waste management.
The standing committee should be chaired by a person with accountabilities to the appropriate Minister and/or Premier/Chief Minister. This may entail the establishment of a position such as Asbestos Commissioner with the statutory authority to second and advocate for appropriate resources from the public sector.
Asbestos Removal Funding
Asbestos Management has been typically managed by reacting from one crisis to another. Asbestos is not being systematically removed from our environment except when an exposure occurs or public attention is drawn to the presence. A number of government reports have recommended significant action and funding yet no government is prioritising the removal of asbestos from the built environment due to funding shortfalls.
Congress proposes that jurisdiction asbestos waste levies be removed to minimise incentives for dumping.
Congress supports local governments and waste management organisations to build the infrastructure and personnel to safely receive small amounts of contained asbestos locally to avoid dumping.
Asbestos in Our Region
Due to the prevalence of asbestos in Asia, Australian workers are now frequently seeing asbestos-containing manufactured materials and plant components imported into Australia workplaces, reducing the effectiveness of the Australian asbestos ban. Congress calls on Australian Customs and WHS Regulators to work together to increase their efforts to stop the importation of asbestos products using greater inspection and compliance mechanisms than currently undertaken.
Congress notes that the use of asbestos has escalated rapidly in the Asia-Pacific region. India, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam are some of the major consumers of asbestos, as asbestos industries in Russia and China seek new markets, following bans in Australia and Europe.
Congress commends the work of Australian unions and Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA to support workers, unions and communities in Asia to ban asbestos and programs to educate and protect workers and families from exposure. Congress supports efforts by Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA to develop a regional asbestos prevention program, building on the important progress it has achieved in Vietnam and Laos.

Australian unions will oppose the international asbestos industry’s efforts to block the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a substance on the Prior Informed Consent list of the Rotterdam Convention. Australian unions commit to increasing the capacity of and support our international partners, unions and civil society groups such as asbestos support groups, in their campaigns to ban the use of asbestos in their countries. Australian unions call on the Australian government to use all the mechanisms available to see a global ban on chrysotile asbestos.
Australia’s regulatory approach to chemicals is uncoordinated and differs across government and sectors of the workforce. The current regulatory system lags behind many international developments and reform is consistently stymied by vested industry interests.
In order to protect workers from the harmful effects of chemicals, Australian unions will campaign and lobby for the reduction in the use of toxic substances at work and associated risks by:
. a) Advocating that all chemicals, both those currently in use and ‘new’ chemicals introduced into Australia, undergo rigorous assessments;
. b) Advocating that the relevant chemical regulators (in particular the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme [NICNAS] and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority [APVMA]) are adequately resourced, remain independent, and have genuine consultative structures which guarantee union participation and involvement;
. c) Advocating for the adoption of a Toxic Use Reduction approach;
. d) Progressive phase out of International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Group 1, followed by Group 2A carcinogens linked to occupational cancer;
. e) Modification of the European European Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) to Australian conditions; and
f) Promoting communication in the supply chain about the safe use of chemicals through Safety Data Sheets (SDS) provision and chemical safety alerts.
Australian unions will lobby and campaign for the establishment of a single regulatory chemicals body to develop and implement a cohesive policy on the assessment, registration and management of chemicals
Australian unions will also campaign for the development of an effective recognition of occupational cancer by workers compensation systems and the adoption of ILO Convention 121.

Nanomaterials can be hazardous because of their small size, large surface area and altered toxicity. Substances that are non-hazardous in larger form can pose new risks in nano-form. There is also evidence that some forms of carbon nanotubes that have a similar shape to asbestos fibres can cause the onset of mesothelioma, which has resulted in these being classified as ‘hazardous’. Concerns regarding the health risks of nanomaterials are greatest for workers, who are more likely to be exposed more routinely, and at higher doses than the general public.
Congress affirms it is the right of every worker to know what hazards may be present in the work environment and that this right includes the potential hazards of nanomaterials. Congress calls for products containing manufactured nanomaterials to be clearly identified in both Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and labels, to ensure implementation of effective identification and control measures. Consistent with this, where products are produced in nano form, SDS must relate to that nano form – rather than to its bulk counterpart.
The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) introduced new guidelines for the nano-specific regulation of the health and environmental effects of nano-forms of new industrial chemicals, commencing 1 January 2011. While a welcome development, these new measures apply to a small fraction of the manufactured nanomaterials in commercial use. Therefore Congress calls for the introduction of nano- specific regulation of nano-forms of existing substances by NICNAS and other regulators.
Congress calls on government to develop effective legislation incorporating the precautionary principle for nanomaterials. Specifically, Congress calls for:
. a) The classification of nanoscale chemicals as new chemicals under NICNAS and other regulators;
. b) The development of new standards for the handling of nanotechnology;
. c) Mandating the labelling of all commercial products containing nanomaterials;
. d) Establishment of a federal registry of all entities manufacturing, importing and supplying products containing nanomaterials;
. e) The establishment of a tripartite body to oversee implementation of this regulatory framework;
. f) Development and improvement of hazard identification, assessment and control mechanisms for nanomaterials;
. g) Enforcement of new exposure standards, including via a well-resourced inspectorate; and
. h) Monitoring of the health impacts on Australian workers involved in nanotechnology and investment in related medical research.
The ACTU, TLCs and unions will lobby governments for effective protections for people exposed to nanomaterials.

pregnant-20-dollar-bill-webNOISE AND HEARING LOSS
Occupational noise-induced hearing loss (ONIHL) is a significant health and safety and economic problem in Australia. The economic burden of ONIHL loss is mainly borne by workers and their families and the wider community with workers’ compensation being fairly limited with a high threshold for eligibility.
Exposure to occupational noise is associated with many adverse effects besides loss of hearing. It has also been linked to fatigue, stress and hypertension. Proper workplace and equipment design and adequate management practices can control occupational noise levels and workers’ exposure, thereby reducing the risk of hearing loss and other adverse effects yet appears that the employers’ usual preferred method of control is personal hearing protection which should be the last resort.
Excessive noise should always be reduced at source where practical. ‘Buy Quiet’ policies should be introduced in all noisy workplaces.
Australian unions will campaign to have a first action level for noise to be at an LAeq of 80dB(A) at which detailed assessment must take place as well as the provision of information, training and health monitoring to workers.
The whole person binaural impairment compensation threshold for hearing loss should be set at 1% in all jurisdictions in accordance with best practice research and guidelines.
Congress recognises that there are a growing number of workers who come into contact with animal and human vector biological hazards. Congress calls on all governments to amend the harmonised WHS laws to include a chapter on risk management of biological hazards.

The union movement recognises the damaging effect that psychosocial hazards and both primary and secondary psychological injuries (for example, workplace stress, fatigue, violence, and bullying) pose to the mental and physical wellbeing of workers.
Congress acknowledges that modern working arrangements create a heightened exposure to psychosocial hazards. Outsourcing, privatisation, corporatisation and competitive tendering of previously stable full time jobs has led to a large increase in the number of workers in insecure employment arrangements. Workers lacking secure employment face significant difficulties in raising health and safety complaints due to the nature of their employment arrangements and conditions.
Congress recognises the significant impact of secondary psychological injuries that occur as a result of deficient responses to a primary injury, including the management of rehabilitation and return to work plans. Unions support the review of rehabilitation and return to work processes in order to minimize the risk of secondary psychological injuries.
Congress recognises that workers who develop injuries, or illness, as a result of exposure to workplace psychosocial hazards, are likely to suffer stigmatisation and discrimination. As a consequence, disclosure and discussion of these injuries/illnesses may prove difficult for workers, and Health and Safety Representatives.
The continued failure of employers and regulatory agencies to control exposure to psychosocial risks continues to have flow-on effects to workers’ families and the general community. This contributes to disparities in health, and over time, to social inequality.
To redress this imbalance, Congress recognises that Model Work Health and Safety laws present an opportunity to address the hitherto piecemeal approach by employers and regulatory agencies to prevent workers’ exposure to psychosocial risks. In this regard, Congress calls for:
Legislation that provides for the control of risks arising from psychosocial hazards, including a regulation and supporting codes of practice to address psychosocial hazards, which must include an obligation on employers to assess and control psychosocial hazards;
An adequately resourced and qualified inspectorate capable of taking action to ensure that employers control psychosocial risks; and
Decent and ongoing workers’ compensation entitlements for injured workers and their families.
Workers must be treated with respect and dignity. Australian unions will continue to oppose any program that seeks to shift responsibility onto workers.
Congress recognises that in order to improve the psychosocial work environment for workers, a genuine tripartite approach is needed from all governments, (including OHS and workers’ compensation bodies) industry and unions. Congress will advocate for:
. a) This will include specifically that the harmonised WHS laws be amended to include a chapter on psychological risk management including the risks of violence, bullying, work overload, work design, and other occupational stressors, including shift work;
. b) Genuine consultation and engagement of workers and their representatives in the identification, assessment and control of psychosocial hazards;
. c) Training of HSRs, workers and supervisors;
. d) Workplace policies and procedures that ensure confidentiality in dealing with individual issues;
. e) Research through Safe Work Australia into the influence of systems of work on psychosocial risks and mental health issues associated with workers compensation processes;
. f) Training to ensure that health and safety inspectorates can address psychosocial hazards; and
. g) The removal of ‘reasonable management action’, and like provisions, from all jurisdictions’ workers’ compensation provisions.
Workplace Violence
Violence in the workplace is a WHS risk management issue as well as potentially a conventional criminal activity. Congress calls on amendments to appropriate legislation to include a WHS psychological risk management chapter that includes provisions to assess and control violence.
A specialist inspectorate should be established and tasked with reducing violence through higher order controls such as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) research.
Congress opposes the increasing acceptance by employers of violence in the workplace, particularly where workers work alone and/or where exposure to anti-social and violent behaviour was once the responsibility of police or trained security.
Australian unions support a Regulation and specific Codes of Practice to cover workers in the public service, local government, law enforcement, security, banking, health, welfare, education, transport, retail, finance, human services and customer service-related sectors which are vulnerable to random and regular attacks at work.
Workplace Bullying
Congress acknowledges that workplace bullying is a work health and safety issue which must be identified, assessed and controlled in the same way as other hazards. In addition to strategies which deal with complaints of workplace bulling, employers must be made accountable to work health and safety regulators for adopting strategies which ensure consultation with workers to identify, assess and control the risks associated with bullying.
Congress supports the anti-bullying laws in the Fair Work Act to stop bullying as early as possible and supplement other OHS/Workplace Bullying codes and regulation.
Congress acknowledges the Fair Work Commission’s initiatives to maintain and resource this separate and discrete function of the tribunal.
Congress advocates that all workers, not just those employed by constitutional corporations, should have access to the jurisdiction, and that once a complaint has been made, it should continue to be heard under the FWC jurisdiction even if the worker’s employment is terminated.
In addition, Congress supports varying the legislation to ensure applicants include unions seeking to stop systemic bullying rather than the current focus on individual complainants having to make public applications for anti-bullying orders. This would allow unions to make complaints on behalf of their members who have been bullied at work but are too afraid to speak up.
Congress also supports legislative amendments to empower the industrial tribunal to award a more comprehensive suite of remedies than presently available. This includes a regime of pecuniary penalties and compensation or damages orders.
Congress rejects the use of the “reasonable management action taken in a reasonable manner” defence as a means for employers to cover workplace bullying.

Congress expresses its grave concern for the widespread and systemic incidence of ill and injured workers being subjected to a range of coercive, intrusive, inappropriate and discriminatory practices by employers, such as: see details 150
Congress notes there is little evidence of the link between AOD usage and workplaces accidents to justify the growth in testing regimes across Australian industries, and calls on governments and industry to consider the broader health, work and social context of AOD usage in preference to focussing on punitive action against individual workers, as a deterrent, which may compound the damage.

Australian unions will pursue improvements to the current legislation to ensure that union officials have right of entry and access to remote workplaces, with employers required to facilitate transport to and from the worksite for the purpose of meeting with members to discuss health and safety matters.
ACTU President Ged Kearney


1. Congress is committed to ensuring that women have strong and effective union representation in their workplace.
2. Congress notes that women now make up almost half of the paid workforce and half of total union membership. The capacity of the union movement to represent and organise women depends on the movement’s ability to reflect views and address issues that are particularly relevant to women. In order to achieve this, women members must be able to fully participate in all levels of union decision making processes and structures. Congress commits to the affirmative action objective of at least 50-50 representation of women in all elected positions at the ACTU and unions; acknowledging the need to better reflect the representation of women employees in the industry and the female membership of the union.
3. Congress notes the 2015 Women in Unions Report Recommendations that unions can assist women to continue to grow within the union movement by ensuring their industrial needs are adequately represented in the union’s bargaining priorities and by removing the barriers women face in accessing senior and elected roles within their union.
4. Removing these barriers will improve the union’s ability to attract the best possible leadership talent and tap into the growth potential of organising women workers.
5. Congress encourages all unions to use the Report’s recommendations as a basis to review their activities in regard to women, including how they attract, retain and develop women members, delegates, employees, elected officials and leaders.
6. Congress affirms its resolution to:
. a) Commit to funding and participating in the survey process which is to be conducted every three years;
. b) Provide for regular reporting of survey results as part of the formal ACTU Congress agenda; and
. c) Acknowledge that the accuracy of the survey results depends on full participation by all unions, and strongly encouraging all unions to continue to complete the survey.
7. Congress commits all unions, TLCs and the ACTU to implement the Report’s Recommendations where appropriate.
8. The ACTU will assist, support and advise unions regarding implementation of the Recommendations where appropriate.

9. ACTU Congress adopts the following recommendations from the Report.
Women’s Participation in Union Structures
10. Encourage women delegates and employees to participate in union structures by:
. a) Setting appropriate goals, actions, resources and timeframes to increase women’s active participation in the union;
. b) Ensuring women members are consulted and their issues addressed, when developing union industrial priorities and growth campaigns;
. c) Removing barriers which discourage the participation of women in union activities by taking into consideration the availability of employees and delegates with family responsibilities;
. d) Identifying and sponsoring women delegates to move into roles including elected positions;
. e) Encouraging and supporting women employees to take on more senior roles within the union;
. f) Ensuring women employees are afforded equal opportunities to access career development such as acting in higher duties and board positions;
. g) Developing policies for union employees including the right to part time work following parental leave, flexible work arrangements, and protection against sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination. Provide mandatory training for all officials and union employees regarding these union policies;
. h) Consider establishing dedicated positions for women on union Committees of Management, Executive, Council, Congress, and other high level union committees;
. i) Ensuring there is a union official(s) who has responsibility in the union for women’s issues and reports at each union executive;
. j) Establishing a women’s committee and regular women’s conference; and
. k) Monitoring and reporting to the union executive annually on the representation of women at all levels within the union.
Peak Council Leadership and Representation of Women
11. Ensure peak council leadership and representation of women by:
. a) Ensuring women member’s issues are included in industrial, growth and campaign priorities, actions and resources set at Union, TLC, ACTU Executive and Congress level;
. b) Ensuring all unions have a representative on the ACTU Women’s Committee and integrating the work of the Committee into other recognised priorities of the ACTU, including in education, industrial and campaigns;
. c) Funding and participating in the ACTU Women in Unions survey which is to be conducted 12 months before each ACTU Congress with the findings to be reported as part of the formal Congress Agenda;
. d) Ensuring that women remain proportionately represented at ACTU Congress and include consideration of women’s issues in each item at Congress;
. e) Continuing to promote and support the Women in Male Dominated Occupations and Industries (WIMDOI) network by encouraging members to attend and actively participate in the biennial conferences; and
. f) Establishing an ACTU mentoring program to support women in the union movement to reach their potential and ensure the movement continues to grow and evolve.
Bargaining and Industrial Agenda
12. Ensure women members’ issues are included in the bargaining and industrial agenda by:
. a) Developing bargaining claims in consultation with women members, including consideration of the suggested provisions contained in the ACTU Work and Family Bargaining Guide;
. b) Bargaining for appropriate facilities and conditions for women workers in male dominated workplaces, and removing barriers which unfairly discourage women’s participation;
. c) Ensuring women representatives are on all bargaining committees; and
. d) Implementing a bargaining checklist to ensure that women’s claims do not “drop off” and review achievement of women member’s bargaining priorities.
Programs and Resources
. e) Continuing improving and extending the Anna Stewart Memorial Project by developing a comprehensive, structured curriculum and mentoring program for women union activists.
. f) Develop materials and resources, publicising union actions supporting women providing role models of active women in the union.
. g) Ensure union and ACTU training of delegates includes gender equality issues and union policies.



1. Australian trade unions face particular challenges in engaging, protecting and empowering young workers.
2. Young workers are more likely to be engaged in low skill, low paid employment, with little or no power to bargain directly with their employer over wages and conditions. This makes young workers particularly vulnerable to exploitation and ill treatment.
3. With the increasing casualization of the workforce and the concurrent rise in youth unemployment, it is harder than ever for young people to be engaged in decent, permanent, paid work. This means it is more important than ever that young people have trade unions representing their interests.
4. Young people are key to the future of the union movement and their participation in union activities should be nurtured and encouraged.

5. Australian unions will engage with young workers across the movement through the facilitation and resourcing of an ACTU Youth Committee, with a commitment from affiliates to participate and engage in the work of the Committee.
6. The Youth Committee will focus on nationally co-ordinated action in a number of priority areas:
. a) Organising and communication methods tailored to young workers;
. b) Education of young workers;
. c) Campaigns with a focus on the pay and conditions of young workers;
. d) Leadership and mentoring of young unionists.
7. The Youth Committee will focus on highlighting issues affecting young workers and ensuring that the movement responds appropriately. The Youth Committee will ensure that young people are a focus of union campaigning efforts.
8. The Youth Committee will ensure that best practice organising and engagement strategies are shared throughout the movement through mechanisms such as:
. a) Young Worker Conferences & Forums, including specific Apprentice Conferences;
. b) Union internships;
. c) Mentoring programmes.
9. In order to ensure that young people feature prominently in ACTU and union planning, and to gain a better understanding of the experiences unions and young people have with each other, Australian unions will conduct a Young People in Unions survey. The results will be presented at Congress 2018 and will be critical in guiding the ACTU and unions’ responses to the critical need of organising young workers. It is intended that this survey be reproduced every three years so that the union movement can track its progress.
10. Young people are often employed in insecure and precarious work and are particularly affected by the growth of the cash economy, where they are often paid cash-in-hand and miss out on important safety net entitlements such as personal/carers leave.
11. Australian unions will continue to campaign for more secure employment. Casual employment is most common among young workers and many young people are finding themselves in casual jobs for many years and are struggling to transition from full-time study to secure full-time employment. Unions will continue to advocate for training pathways and casual conversion clauses to enable young people to transition from insecure work into permanent employment.
12. Congress supports the introduction of measures in awards and EBAs to protect young workers from insecure work. This includes casual conversion clauses with an ‘opt-out’ rather than ‘opt-in’ approach, and the introduction of portable leave entitlements.
13. Congress calls upon the government to fund incentives for young apprentices and trainees, for example, through tools allowances and sign-on bonuses for apprentices to meet cost of living pressures.
14. Congress encourages all affiliates to:
. a) Focus on recruiting young people in precarious work and working with them to achieve job security if they so wish;
. b) Bargain for casual conversion clauses in all EBAs; and
. c) Investigate and pursue instances where young workers are being paid cash in hand and are not receiving their entitlements.

15. Australian unions will continue to advocate for improvements in pay and working conditions for young workers and to develop opportunities for young people to build capacity to campaign around these issues.
16. Unions will continue to campaign for the removal of youth wages, particularly for those aged 18 and over. Where awards and agreements continue to contain youth wages, steps should be taken to remove them on the grounds that they are discriminatory and fail to take into account young workers’ actual skills, experience, and length of service.
17. Congress resolves to campaign to expand the superannuation guarantee to workers under the age of 18, and remove the discriminatory requirement that workers under 18 must work at least 30 hours per week to receive employer superannuation contributions. Superannuation is a form of deferred wages, and therefore by not receiving their superannuation entitlement, young workers are effectively having their pay cut by 9.25%. With the compounding effect of superannuation, even a small amount earned at a young age will significantly boost retirement earnings.
18. Australian unions will continue to advocate for an increase in the minimum wage for young people on apprentice and trainee wages, noting that the current wages still remain too low to provide a decent standard of living.

19. Young people are more likely to change employment frequently and as a result it can be more difficult for unions to engage with and represent their interests. Unions should therefore develop specific strategies to organise young workers, including by engaging young people through the school system before they enter employment.
20. Congress resolves to explore and support new organising strategies, particularly those that integrate technology with campaigning. We note that young people are more likely to engage through social media than more traditional forms of media, and therefore unions should ensure they are fully equipped to run online campaigns and to seek to engage young workers and potential members through social media.
21. Australian unions will investigate easier joining methods, such as online application forms, and simplified fee structures for young people, which may include free or reduced membership fees.
22. Congress recommends that all affiliates appoint a Youth Contact Officer in each state branch and to publicise the contact details of the Officer so that they may be contacted with queries about joining or getting involved. Unions should have an easy point of call to personalise the membership joining process.
23. Affiliates will investigate whether it is feasible for them to backdate membership to young workers with an issue who wish to join the union in order to have their issue resolved, particularly if the worker is in a non-unionised workplace.
24. Affiliates resolve to work cooperatively to ensure that young workers who change careers or industries remain union members.

25. Young workers themselves are in the best position to voice their own issues and concerns, and therefore affiliates should actively attempt to engage young union members in decision making around youth-oriented campaigns and organising efforts.
26. The achievements of young people should be regularly showcased in union communications, publications and online content.
27. Unions should develop specific materials on workplace rights that are targeted towards young people, and should seek active input from young people in developing these materials.
28. Young people should be engaged with the union’s decision making bodies, through a youth advisory committee or similar structure, with reporting directly to the union’s committee of management.
29. Affiliates should consider whether to entrench these structures into the rules of their organisations, including through the possibility of mandating youth representative positions on committee structures.

30. Unions have a fundamental role in the education of young people. This duty applies equally to both young union members and non-members.
31. Congress notes the good work that has been undertaken by various affiliates and Trades and Labour Councils to develop educational material on workplace rights, and resolves to continue to support efforts to train and educate young people, particularly during the Year 10 Work Experience requirement. Unions should establish an active presence in schools and conduct outreach activities with other formal education settings.
32. Australian unions will consider developing and undertaking specific training and educational events for young delegates, activists and members, including through the provision of an annual Young Workers Conference.
33. Australian unions will develop materials targeted towards young people to educate them on their workplace rights and safety matters, and to promote the work of unions. These materials will be made available to all affiliates.
34. Recognising that young people are particularly vulnerable to workplace injuries and incidents, young people should be educated on health and safety issues and should be encouraged to be involved as Health and Safety Representatives or through their workplace health and safety committee.

35. Young people have the capacity, skills and vision to act as leaders in their workplaces and communities. Young people should be given appropriate support and encouragement to take on further leadership roles within their workplace, noting that many young people who are exposed to the union movement go on to have rewarding careers as union officials.
36. Affiliates resolve to resource and promote Union Summer, Organising Works and similar programs, and to pay all young workers a fair wage for their efforts.
37. Congress also resolves to establish a training and leadership development program for young delegates, similar to the Anna Stewart Memorial Project.
38. Australian unions will provide opportunities for young workers to develop their skills and networks through formal mentoring programs.
39. Trades and Labour Councils will be encouraged to establish youth committees or networks to run social events and to provide a volunteer base for campaigning activities.
40. Unpaid internships are becoming commonplace for young workers seeking to gain the experience required to obtain an entry level job. Unpaid internships are affecting an increasingly large number of industries, from media and the creative arts to law and not- for-profits.
41. Unpaid internships are problematic because they are increasingly viewed as a necessary qualification for young people to get their foot in the door of their chosen career. The work and efforts of all young people should be recognised, valued, and remunerated at a fair level.
42. Congress opposes unpaid internships that are not part of an accredited course at an educational institution, and we note that such arrangements would be in breach of the Fair Work Act.
43. Australian unions will work with, and provide support to, organisations running campaigns that raise the awareness of unpaid internships in Australia, including youth-driven groups such as Interns Australia.
44. Australian unions commit to ensuring that they do not engage unpaid interns in their own organisations, except as part of an accredited course.

45. Young people are disproportionately impacted by unemployment, and are more likely to be underemployed.
46. Congress supports a strong welfare system that treats the unemployed with dignity and respect, and provides young people with the assistance they need to find work and/or training.
47. Congress recognises the need for equal access to education and vocational training opportunities that provide young people with the skills and experience needed to enter the workforce.
48. Congress opposes policies which penalise, demoralise or humiliate the unemployed, creating unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles to welfare access. In particular we reject the Government’s current proposal to extend the waiting period for jobseekers under the age of 30 to access Newstart Allowance. It is unfair and discriminatory to impose additional job search requirements or waiting periods on jobseekers who are under the age of 30.
49. Congress also notes that unpaid work placements, including Work For the Dole and the National Work Experience Programme, has been proven to be an ineffective way to get jobseekers into meaningful employment. Such programs undercut the labour market by forcing young people to undertake work for free instead of receiving a fair wage for it. In addition, such programs may be in breach of the Fair Work Act.
50. Australian unions will continue to campaign for the rights of young jobseekers, and will campaign against all of the Government’s unfair changes to welfare payments for young people.

Congress reaffirms education policy as endorsed by Congress in 2003.
Pivotal to the achievement of social inclusion and cohesion is education policy which aims to ameliorate social divides.
Public education, free, secular and universally accessible, is recognised as the foundation for a socially cohesive and prosperous Australia. The greatest benefit of public education is realised in the local, socially representative public school.
Governments have a prime obligation to adequately and properly fund government schools in order to provide high quality public schooling that is accessible to all children and young people. Public funding for schooling supports the right of families to choose non-government schooling and supports non-government schools on the basis of need, within the context of promoting a socially and culturally cohesive society and the effective use of public funds.
There must be increased public investment in education and distribution of public funds based on need and national resource standards. Better coordination between state, territory and the Commonwealth Government is crucial.
Congress welcomes the Federal Government’s increased investment in school infrastructure. This will enable schools to undertake important upgrades and to develop modern learning environments. Public investment in early childhood education, schools, TAFE colleges and universities is not only an investment in education it is also a capital investment in which should be available for the use of local communities.
Congress calls upon the Government to adopt policies that promote lifelong learning and effective transitions between our early childhood education institutions, schools, TAFE colleges and universities, as well as between education and work and non-work roles including familial and caring activities.
A new funding model
The adoption of a new funding model is the top priority for enhancing the provision of quality education. Congress is committed to working with stakeholders and to lobbying and campaigning to ensure that the new funding model which will apply from 2013 is fairer and based upon the funding principles endorsed by State and Territory Labor ministers for education through the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA). These funding principles, adopted by ACTU Congress in 2003, are:
a) the total level of resources available for schooling is adequate so that achievement of the National Goals for Schooling is a realistic objective for all students;
b) public funding across different schools and sectors is distributed fairly and equitably through a consistent approach to assessing student needs and through having regard to the total level of resources available for students;
c) the total level of funding for government schooling is adequate to ensure access to high quality government schooling for all, and all governments’ funding policies recognise this as a national priority;
d) resourcing for all students is adequate for meeting the National Goals, notwithstanding the school or school sector they attend; and
e) public funding for schooling supports the right of families to choose non-government schooling and supports non-government schools on the basis of need, within the context of promoting a socially and culturally cohesive society and the effective use of public funds.
Congress calls on the Government to ensure the process for developing the new funding model is transparent and involves consultation with all stakeholders, including education unions.
Quality teaching
Congress calls upon the federal and state and territory governments to adopt the following national strategy to ensure the adequate supply of qualified teachers and skilled support staff for every school in Australia:
a) attract the best entrants through improving teacher education courses, beginning salary rates and HECS remission;
b) increase support and mentoring opportunities for new teachers to reduce the number of young teachers leaving the profession;
c) provide adequate funding for salaries, employment conditions and job security; and
d) increase opportunities for professional training and development.
To ensure all children have access to quality education regardless of geographical location, affiliates will seek to include the following measures in awards and/or agreements to enhance the desirability of teacher postings to rural and remote areas:
a) assistance with securing suitable housing;
b) ensuring teachers and support staff in rural and remote schools have access to professional development opportunities and ensuring the allocation of sufficient funds for these opportunities; and
c) remote area subsidies and allowances.
In addition, Congress calls on the Government to provide adequate income support to enable student teachers in urban areas to undertake the teacher practicum in rural or remote schools.
Congress urges the Government to take action to ensure Australia has sufficient numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers and support staff, including by:
a) establishing clear targets for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment in the teaching profession and support services;
b) ensuring there is mentoring, support and access to professional learning and development opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers and support staff; and
c) providing scholarships to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to enter the teaching profession and support services.
Congress calls on the Federal Government to work with the state and territory governments and the teaching profession to implement the following strategies to promote quality teaching in Australian schools:
a) ensure all students in their final or penultimate year of a pre-service teacher education course have access to a fully-funded teacher practicum. Barriers to schools accepting students on teacher practicum must be identified and overcome;
b) ensure new teachers receive adequate training, mentoring and support;
c) provide all teachers with access to ongoing quality professional development opportunities; and
d) provide adequate funding for payments of teacher supervision and mentoring of student teachers.Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education
Congress calls upon the Government to immediately fund the expansion of the education system to ensure that every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community has meaningful access to pre-school, primary, secondary and post-school education. This must be a national priority.
The ACTU resolves to adopt the following as priorities to promote Indigenous education in the next three years:
a) call upon governments to respond more effectively to the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in preschool, primary, secondary and tertiary education through the implementation of employment targets in all collective agreements and through the development and implementation of training plans, career pathways and transition to full employment;
b) secure adequate funding to meet the real needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student support, such as tutorial assistance schemes and in class support to ensure the educational gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students is closed;
c) advocate for a comprehensive and accurate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective across curriculum areas and ensure the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history pre and post contact, including the impact of colonisation on the First Peoples of Australia, in the development of the National Curriculum; and
d) lobby governments to ensure that all prospective teachers and teachers employed in education systems in Australia complete a comprehensive sequence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies as a minimum requirement for their employment, so as to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their communities.
Congress will also seek to ensure that efforts to ‘close the gap’ of the educational achievements for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are supported by the development of a comprehensive and solid long term national action plan for Indigenous education, underpinned by a significant funding commitment and educational structures and models for the provision of education that take into account their needs and those of particular communities.
18 Congress acknowledges that the Government has taken action to redress more than a decade of neglect and significantly raised Australia’s investment, participation, and performance in higher education by providing additional funding of near $6 billion over a four period commencing in 2010.
Congress welcomes the Labor Government’s adoption of the following national targets by 2025:
a) 40 percent of 25-34 year olds will have attained at least a bachelor-level qualification; and
b) 20 percent of undergraduate enrolments in higher education will be students from low socio-economic backgrounds.
Congress calls upon the Government to adopt the following measures to help achieve these targets:
a) further improve student income support and reduce student debt;
b) require all institutions in receipt of government subsidies for teaching and learning to develop programmes aimed at improving the participation rates of students from disadvantaged backgrounds;
c) provide adequate funding for the provision of student support services and independent student representation and advocacy.
Academic freedom and institutional autonomy are intrinsic to quality university teaching and research. Congress requests the Government protect these principles in legislation.
Congress calls upon the Federal Government to ensure all universities establish programs that address the impending staff crisis generated by an ageing academic workforce and an increased reliance on casual employees, should be specifically targeted at:
a) Providing career opportunities to the thousands of highly qualified casual staff unable to obtain entry into the academic workforce; and
b) Attracting recent PhD graduates seeking to enter the full-time academic workforce for the first time.

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