Shipbuilding, Changing the Government and Changing the Rules.
The CEPU SA held its branch conference at the new Port Adelaide office in early April with union officials, supporters and sponsors attending in strong numbers.
CEPU SA Secretary John Adley said the conference was a success and focused on the future – the immediate and the long-term.
“The conference was well attended with the delegates and guests from across the state participating fully which was great seeing such enthusiasm in the lead up to next month’s national election,” he said.
“We have the opportunity as union members to set our sights on the future, with the federal election, the Change the Rules campaign and the shipbuilding projects that will be massively important for our union for the next 50 years.”
ETU National Secretary Allen Hicks addressed the conference on the federal election coming on May 18, telling the union members gathered he was backing Bill Shorten and Labor because Labor was backing Australian Unions and the Change the Rules campaign.
“Labor has committed to Changing the Rules for working people, that’s why I’m voting Labor on May 18,” he said.
The National Secretary said Australian workers deserved a government that would put them at the centre of decision making.
Building the ships and skills for the future
There is $89 billion being tipped into the naval shipbuilding program over the coming decades with domestic construction of 12 submarines, nine frigates, 12 offshore patrol vessels and 21 patrol boats in its early stages.
South Australia’s Osborne shipyards, near Port Adelaide, will be the centre of the action, with Henderson in WA a secondary site along with various shipyards and slipways around the country filling various support roles.
National Industry Coordinator Matthew Murphy said there would be a lot of labour-hours and long supply chain feeding the project, which itself required “constant vigilance”.
“In order to meet the highest standards and capacity for building these vessels we will need constant vigilance over every aspect and every moment,” he said.
“That’s where our union, as part of the Australian Shipbuilders Federation of Unions, will be watching to ensure our members and the ships they build will be of the highest quality.”
The ETU officer said the project would be built through pride and collectivism and to the high standard that will be handed down through the intergenerational project.
“Our ships and subs will be union built by highly skilled and highly paid workers in secure, long-term jobs. Once we start, we won’t be returning to the Valley of Death,” Murphy said.
The conference coincided with the with Australian Unions National Day of Action that saw thousands rally in Adelaide’s streets with calls for better wages and conditions for workers.
“There were plenty of supporters out there for the rally with just about every union represented,” said Adley.
“The election had only just been called and there were workers marching in protest of the Liberal Government’s years of cuts and failing workers.
“Nowhere has this been felt more than at our shipyards where outgoing Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said again and again that the Valley of Death was over whilst CEPU SA members continue to be made redundant.
“Well thankfully Pyne has pulled the pin and we hope he is replaced in the seat of Sturt by ALP candidate Cressida O’Hanlon who is committed to Change the Rules for Australian workers.”