AEU staff member and active unionist
We’ve known for quite some time that unions are facing declining memberships,
lacklustre public engagement and a seemingly never-ending onslaught of attacks from
politicians, right-wing media and think tanks.
But at the AEU it’s often difficult to empathise. Not a week goes by where our membership doesn’t rise, our sub-branches are more active than ever, and we’re taken seriously by pollies and the media alike. But there is never a time for complacency, nor can we ignore the broader struggle facing our colleagues in other unions and working people across the
That’s why the Australian Council of Trade Unions “Change the Rules” campaign is the breath of fresh air needed to reinvigorate our movement, to take on the challenges facing working people across every industry, regardless of employment type, and unite all unions behind a set of universal ideals.
ACTU Secretary Sally McManus has said the campaign aims to achieve more secure jobs, give working people the power they need to negotiate better pay and conditions, and challenge our workplace laws, which fail to balance corporate interests and the needs of working Australians. It’s broad, it’s ambitious and the time is right. Inequality is at an all-time high, wages are at record lows and four million workers are in insecure work.
Recently, AEU ACT organiser Malisa Lengyel and Katie Slater, a north side Women’s Contact
Officer, attended the Union Women Changing the Rules Conference in Melbourne to
contemplate the importance of the campaign. Delegates, members and officials from a range of different unions gathered to discuss the impact the campaign can and should have on women at work, and our members got to discussing why the AEU should care.
“The conference was an excellent opportunity to meet with like-minded unionists to discuss the importance of this campaign and how we can return to our respective sites with an informed and planned approach to the campaign and how to promote it amongst our membership," Malisa said.
The Change the Rules campaign on the face of it may not impact educators directly, but an attack on one union is an attack on all unions. Inequality, occupational violence, the devaluing of professions dominated by women and privatisation are not isolated by industry.
“Gendered violence at work and at home, and insecure employment are two stand out connections of the campaign to the AEU," Malisa said. "We are looking forward to engaging our members on these issues.”
And the Change the Rules campaign is calling on the government to improve funding and access to essential services, including education. The experiment of privatising vocational education and training is a prime example. Lack of government funding for public TAFE means educators are unable to provide the resources needed to generate the skills and experience for tomorrow’s workforce. It means educating gets harder, the quality of teaching is at risk and the role of educators becomes undervalued.
This puts our TAFE educators at further risk of unstable employment and will result in skill shortages. And it’s not just our TAFEs facing cuts. Public schools and universities are seeing educators struggle to provide the skills young people need to access secure work. The Change the Rules campaign is not just about the nature of work today, but the future of work for those you educate today.
Fair Funding Now for public schools is important, but funding increases alone will not ensure the best for your students. And with each event held under the Change the Rules banner attendance increases, the atmosphere becomes more electric and the prospect of real change gets closer.
With your involvement we can show that not only is the movement proud, but it’s growing.
That’s why you should join the movement for change.
Hope to see you at the next rally!