May 21, 2018

Congratulations go to TWU (VIC/TAS Branch) Secretary John Berger who was elected to the prestigous position of TWU National Vice-President at today’s TWU National Conference.

John has been fighting to protect and enhance the lives of tranport workers since joining the TWU three decades ago.

WA Branch Secretary Tim Dawson has been elected as National President.

The conference will continue work on tackling gaping holes in regulation in the on-demand economy, road transport and aviation which leave workers impoverished, without protections and at risk of death and injury.

ALP deputy leader Tanya Plibersek, ACTU Secretary Sally McManus, former foreign minister Bob Carr and ALP SA leader Peter Malinauskas will make keynote addresses. Bob Katter MP, Senators Alex Gallacher and Glenn Sterle, and Australian Workers’ Union National Secretary Daniel Walton will join panel discussions.

The council agenda will also involve appearances by international trade unions, including the International Transport Workers’ Federation, and New Zealand and Korean trade unions.

A focus of the National Conference was the launch of the TWU’s 2020 plan which will generate power and strength in the grassroots so we can push fight for your rights against the big economic powers at the big end of town.

Companies always they are running on empty and cannot afford to pay workers decent wages. Well, you know what, the wealthy clients can afford it.

In 2020, hundreds of TWU EAs will be expiring concurrently – which means our actions can be widespread. We are truly excited by this opportunity – Get On Board!

Below is an excerpt of  John’s speech to today’s conference:

“We cannot win. That’s what the newspapers in this country are saying. The Coalition Government. Big business.

They say the union movement is a shadow of what it once was.

How wrong they are.

The TWU flag flew high and mighty as 100,000 blue-collar protestors – sick and tired of the anti-worker agenda of those currently running Australia – rallied in Melbourne a few weeks ago to demand our nation’s fundamentally broken industrial system be fixed.

The Coalition now know its war on workers has gone too far and the parallels to the anti-Work Choices groundswell that toppled the Howard Government will make many Coalition MP’s shift nervously in their seats.

They have received the message workers will NOT idly accept:

  • Big Banks being gifted access to their superannuation,

  • Stagnant wage and job growth when company profits are at an all-time high,

  • More insecure work and less full-time jobs,

  • And the shameful attack on penalty rates, rampant growth of wage theft and other retrograde measures – like split shifts forcing people to work longer for less.

Unfortunately, these measures are infiltrating the transport industry more than most.

It is perhaps why the TWU 2020 and 2035 vision is noticeably cutting through with Branch members.

More members are becoming engaged, attending protests and Branch meetings and embracing social media activism.

Our long-term vision equals long-term job security and, in 2017, the Branch enjoyed a membership surge – including a number of new yards looking for a better deal from their employers.

And they all got it!

Our long campaign to bring Safe Rates for tipper owner drivers hit pay dirt last year when the Andrews Government vowed to dismantle the pay-by-the-load system and mandate minimum hourly rates on government infrastructure projects.

In 2017 we welcomed a massive shake-up of the Victorian Bus Industry.

Key aspects were pushed by our Bus Organisers – including the compulsory installation of driver security screens and voice-over technology removing the obligation from drivers to request passengers ‘touch on’ electronic tickets — which naturally reduces the threat of assault.

In all, the Branch hammered out 62 enterprise agreements in 2017 with the vast majority voted up unanimously.

We had up to 10 aviation industry disputes before the Fair Work Commission, or preparing for lodgement, at any one time.

We were involved in several national and State-based aviation enterprise agreement negotiations – including some for the first time – such as the Jetstar Flight Attendants Agreement.

And – as we all know – Jetstar did not like it.

The Branch also increased its advocacy and representation of members in 2017. We won over $250,000 for members unfairly dismissed and employed 3 experienced Organisers.

We visited more yards more often, sent more texts and direct e-mails than ever before. We amped-up our social media and website communications and videography.

We became a greater presence in our members’ lives – and did not receive one complaint for doing so.

So, no, the Union movement is not a blunt instrument.

One of our key messages to workers – to imagine how different their everyday lives would be without everything the Union movement has won for them – is not new.

But this clarion call amplifies the closer the wolf gets to the door – when workers actually face losing things like penalty rates.

They start to understand these conditions were not gifted by the company when their employers remove them at the first opportunity they get.

It is our time to strike.



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