Tasmania CEPU commits to engage, prepare and unite at biennial conference

Nicholas McCallum

Union fires up and commits to fight for the rank and file on new fronts.  

CEPU Tasmania hosted its 2019 Biennial Conference in Hobart, where delegates of the growing union made firm commitments to engage and educate rank and file members for the fights ahead.

State Secretary Michael Anderson said the conference focused on the union and its members’ future and wrapped with firm commitments to ensure the union stayed on its strong and steady progression.

“This biennial was great success and lived up to its themes, that we’re a union focused on our rank and file members,” he said.

“We wanted to commit, engage, prepare and unite our membership and that’s what we’ve done and that’s what we’ll keep doing in the years ahead.”

Anderson said the CEPU has never been stronger and was committed to building new structures in the industrial space while reinforcing existing ones.  

The union also made a commitment to move into other areas that are external to union’s industrial bargaining concerns, but crucial to members interests.

“We’ve fought and won some good battles in recent years and our organisers are going from strength to strength in all sectors,” he said.

“This means we can start committing time and resources to fights adjacent to the industrial space, in areas that will benefit our members and our state.”

CEPU Tasmania President Ken Mayes (L) and Branch Secretary Michael Anderson.

Conference resolved that our branch should have a wider conversation about getting further involved politically, a process which will need to be signed off by State Council.

While historically contentious, a lengthy debate was had on the conference floor about the external threats to the union, which could get worse if the union isn’t part of the political conversation.

A primary concern for the growing union was staking the ground on industry-based bargaining and supporting delegate structures while expanding opportunities for more members to get involved and learn the tools of unionism.

The conference opening address was delivered by Unions Tasmania State Secretary, Jess Munday.

For communications workers, Organisers Paul Sutton there would be more pro-active, on-the-ground engagement in near future, especially with the Australia Post EBA negotiations coming up over the next 12 months.

Sutton said now was the time to start laying the groundwork, so members knew what to expect in the year ahead.

“With the EBA less than 12 months away, now is the time to start talking to your colleagues at work about what the expectation is,” he said.

“If the expectation is that we’re going to have a decent pay rise… we have to be prepared to take action.”

ETU National Secretary Allen Hicks (L) and Queensland-NT Secretary Peter Ong (R).

Sutton said the key to success was being prepared on all fronts, with workers not only ready to take industrial action mentally and spiritually, but also having the financial support for members out on the grass.

“If we’re going to take action, now is the time to start saving up,” he said.

All delegates committed to finding way to better resource industrial campaigns and making sure there was a firm financial foundation for members to stand on if and when they enter into a protracted bargaining period.

ETU National Policy Officer Trevor Gauld (L) and Michael Anderson (R).

Secretary Anderson said the Tasmanian branch was now in a firm position to support its growing membership and better prepared than ever to take on the challenges in their state.

“The strongest message to come out of the 2019 biennial conference was our commitment to fighting for rank and file members,” he said.

“They are what our union is all about and they are who we fight for and if it comes to it we’re going to be backing them all the way to a win.”

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