Jeff Lawrence: Address to ACTU Conference

Australians want to live in a nation that they can proudly say is fair, inclusive and where working people have a say – I want to work with Australian working families to ensure we return to these values, Jeff Lawrence, the ACTU Secretary-Elect said today.

Jeff Lawrence told an audience of 400 union organisers and activists today that he considered it an honour to be given the responsibility of following Greg Combet as ACTU Secretary and that he wanted to work with all union members strongly committed to the change agenda.

"John Howard's laws take away the respect that working families correctly believe is their right as Australians ... that's why our Your Rights at Work campaign is a key priority for union people in the lead up to the next Federal election.

"But we are focussed on the future - for a time way beyond the Federal election, "Jeff Lawrence told his audience as he outlined some of his views about the future direction for the ACTU and its affiliates.

"That's why we are having this organisers conference here right now. We are laying out a strategy which commits us to an agenda of change to organise more and more people so they can have a real and democratic voice in their workplace.

"Whatever the outcome of the election Australian unions future is about organising, campaigning and bargaining.

"However unions must remain disciplined, unified , strong and determined. We know we can show to our members and to all working people that they have a choice in 2007 - they can choose to get rid of Howard's WorkChoices.

"I know what I will choose at the coming federal election. I know that many members of my union and other unions will choose to vote out WorkChoices.

"I know that thousands of non-union members who are suffering in their workplaces will make the same choice alongside their union colleagues.

"I am looking forward to doing the job," he told the supportive audience.