Campaigns against the introduction of non-union agreements have scooped two of the major prizes in the annual ACTU Awards presented at the conclusion of the ACTU Executive meeting in Melbourne yesterday.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow presented the awards at a function attended by around 80 union secretaries, officials and award winners last night.

The Best Workplace Campaign Award for 2005 went to the CPSU for its campaign against AWAs and a non-union s170LK agreement in the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR).

The CPSU campaign gained national media attention as Employment Minister Kevin Andrews sought to road-test the Howard Governments IR changes in his own Department. After a series of stoppages, rallies in different States and a ballot in which 78% of staff voted against a non-union agreement DEWR eventually agreed to a new collective agreement with the CPSU. Key organisers of the campaign included CPSU national secretary Stephen Jones, deputy national president Lisa Newman and section president Steve Mastwycke.

The ongoing workplace campaign against AWAs by the Ballarat University NTEU was Highly Commended.

The Organiser of the Year Award went to Greg Harvey from the RTBU National Office in Sydney. Greg has led a long-running campaign for a new collective agreement for staff at Pacific National the interstate rail freight company owned by Patricks and TOLL.

The RTBU also successfully recruited new members through the campaign with membership rising by 70 to a density of 98% within the 2300 strong workforce. Greg organised a series of short stoppages, office occupations, a ballot in which 85% voted against a non-union deal and coped with several Court actions brought against the union.

Pat Preston of the CFMEU (Vic) was Highly Commended as an Organiser for his contribution to workplace health and safety for construction workers.

There were joint winners of the Best Communications Strategy Award with all prizes going to the Sunshine State. A combined entry by the Queensland Teachers’ Union/QIEU won for their DVD and public information and media strategy around 15 November. Brett Young, QTU and Laura Wise, QIEU collected the award on behalf of their unions.

The teachers shared the Best Communications Strategy Award with the Queensland BLF, for a calendar that featured some of their well-built members, a DVD and their general communications strategy. Greg Simcoe, BLF Qld State secretary was on hand to receive the award.

Union Quote of the Year went to Tim Brunero for his statement on Channel Ten’s Big Brother program last July: “In a few years you will be reading the papers and it will suddenly occur to you that people are getting paid less. And you’ll think back to this day and wish you’d fought the government harder. But by then it will be too late.”

Other ACTU award winners were:

  • The Delegate of the Year is Paul Walsh, TWU NSW. With Bendigo Health Care delegates of HACSU (Vic) and Paul Wilson, CPSU (SA) winning Highly Commended Delegates awards.
  • The Jennie George Award for promoting the role of women in unions was shared between the NSW Nurses Association for their aged care pay equity campaign and the LHMU for their childcare pay equity campaign. These campaigns may be the last pay equity test cases of their type, thanks to the passage of the Governments new IR laws and the effective scrapping of the award system.
  • The Your Rights At Work Award went to John Robertson of Unions NSW for the Your Rights At Work regional bus tour.