Some Exciting Changes at the TWU

December 21, 2021

Dear members, 

We’re pleased to announce some exciting changes at the TWU. John Berger and Chris Fennell, two stalwarts of the union, are moving on and the Branch Committee of Management have unanimously endorsed Mike McNess as the new Branch Secretary and Mem Suleyman into the Assistant Secretary role. 

Thank you, John and Chris

Both John and Chris have tirelessly represented all transport workers for many, many years. Together they have delivered unprecedented wage growth and improvements to conditions for members across all industries. They have grown the union’s capacity to bargain and positively influence the sector in favour of members, and positioned the union as a powerful force; not only in the sector but politically, for the advancement of all members and the safety of the transport industry.

John has been preselected for the Southern Metro Region seat in the Victorian Parliament where he will continue to be a voice for change and an activist for all transport workers. After many years of loyal service to the TWU and transport industry, Chris has made the decision to retire and will enjoy his retirement with his wife and has plans to travel.

A bigger and better 2022

The legacy that John and Chris leave is a TWU at its best. A team of committed Organisers and staff, powered up, ready to fight, and continue to improve the lives of all members and their families. 2022 will see the consolidation of better agreements across many more sectors, driving better Enterprise Agreement outcomes that put safety, higher wages and modern conditions front and centre.

The union will continue to focus on the Aviation industry to rebuild it to its former strength, and to create better, well-paid, safe and secure jobs. Plus, we’ll enhance our achievements by continuing to train and empower Delegates to lead the change in every single workplace, ensuring members have a voice and are active in achieving the outcomes they want to see in their workplace.

Introducing new TWU Victoria/Tasmania Branch Secretary Mike McNess 

Watch a video from Mike McNess here:  

Mike McNess joined the TWU as an Organiser in 1995 after working in the transport industry. During his time at the TWU, Mike has completed the ACTU’s peak organising program ‘Organising Works’. Mike also sits on the Transport Industry Council, the peak body responsible for making recommendations to the Minister for Industrial Relations on commercial practices affecting owner drivers. In 2013 Mike was appointed as a Senior Organiser, and in 2015 was appointed to the Branch Committee of Management. As an Organiser in general transport for many years, Mike was part of various campaigns including the 1998 waterfront dispute, the 2007 ‘Your Rights at Work’ campaign, and more recently for stronger rights for the Bus industry.

In 2008, Mike joined the Bus section of the TWU and has negotiated several industry-wide Enterprise Agreements. In 2018, after industry-wide strikes of over 1,000 members, nation-leading 4% per year pay increases and conditions were achieved. During this time, Mike has also successfully led the campaign for Security Screens to be fitted on all Victorian buses, and has been key to the elimination of cash and the elimination of the requirement for bus drivers to sell tickets – measures which have drastically improved the working lives of bus drivers.

Most recently, Mike has been at the forefront of national Enterprise Agreement negotiations at Toll and Global Express. During bargaining, Mike oversaw the sale of a major portion of the Toll business to Global Express, and led many members through a strong Protected Action Ballot which resulted in thousands of members walking off the job at Toll nationally for the first time in the company’s history.

Mike is an advocate for diversity and inclusion across the transport industry. His passion for this saw the first Women’s Advocate training program take place this year, with senior female delegates undertaking tailored and comprehensive training to highlight and address key factors specific to women in the workplace.

During the collapse of the airline industry in the peak of COVID-19, in close partnership with Mem, both put together a temporary jobs transition program that led to displaced members being transitioned into meaningful transport-related jobs and also delivered thousands of airline staff work in the hotel quarantine program.  

With his knowledge and experience, as Branch Secretary, Mike is passionate about continuing to grow membership in Tasmania, rebuilding the aviation industry, and will continue to fight for stronger outcomes for all transport workers across all industries.

Mike McNess, Branch Secretary

Introducing new Assistant Secretary, Mem Suleyman 

Mem has fought for and won better conditions for transport workers in countless campaigns across Victoria and Tasmania for over a decade, including overseeing all agreements across the branch this year. Like Mike, Mem has also completed the ACTU’s peak organising program ‘Organising Works’. Through his role as Chief of Staff, Mem leads the fight to enhance working conditions for transport workers. During his career, he has never been one to take a backward step including being on the front line with major strikes at CDC, G4S, FedEx, Jetstar, StarTrack, and Toll.   

After leading the national negotiations at StarTrack, the Enterprise Agreement was recently overwhelmingly voted up by over 90% of workers across the country after securing record-breaking wins for workers previously held back by onerous government wage policies. Mem has also recently negotiated the ACFS Enterprise Agreement with the in-principle agreement being strongly endorsed by delegates nationally. This agreement builds on strong conditions, super and pay, and sees the introduction of Mental Health training and improved social clauses like parental leave for secondary carers and volunteer leave to support what is important to working people. This agreement will soon go to a vote. Beyond the national agreements, Mem has been leading local agreements at SeaRoad, Hanson and Cope Sensitive Freight where workers have won landmark agreements including additional superannuation, job security, and good wages underpinned by CPI. These agreements have been overwhelmingly endorsed with over 90% of workers voting yes to these agreements on-site recently.

A safe and well festive season

On behalf of all TWU Organisers and staff, we wish you a safe and well festive season. For those who are having a break, recharge and reset for a big year ahead. For those driving through, go safely and take care. To all members, you are the frontline heroes delivering for all of us every day. The TWU will be there with you to make sure you receive the recognition you deserve.

In unity, 

TWU Team