Page 1792 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 May 2013

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It was a lovely day to see so many people celebrate the great things that working people as members of unions have achieved, achievements such as fair pay and conditions, work site health and safety and collective bargaining. This was the first May Day rally, I think, in about 10 years, and I congratulate the work of Unions ACT for making it such a great day.

Now I want to tell Sarah and Robyn’s story. Towards the end of 2011, the federal government announced that it would move over 800 staff from DEEWR to the department of innovation. This change meant that significant negotiation had to take place over the agreement and conditions that the former DEEWR employees would work under. The innovation delegates quickly responded and ran a national campaign in their workplace. A team of delegates coordinated and led the campaign and represented members at the Fair Work Commission and in meetings with the department.

Sarah and Robyn were instrumental in what was a sustained campaign involving the collection of hundreds of signatures to an open letter, online surveys, mass bulletins and mass meetings that ultimately shaped the negotiation process. This enabled the employees to secure a range of important conditions. Sarah and Robyn stepped up to represent their colleagues.

Both were new to the workplace delegate role. One was a former graduate, and the other had not previously been a delegate. They developed organising skills and represented members over the course of their campaign, doing things like building support through the collection of hundreds of signatures from affected workers to an open letter to the employer and they represented members at meetings with the employer and at conciliations in the Fair Work Commission.

The workplace campaign went on for nine months and involved hundreds of workers and has positioned them for stronger outcomes in the next round of enterprise bargaining in 2014. Union density as a result of the campaign almost doubled, from 14 to 27 per cent. Sarah and Robyn are an example of what public servants are capable of achieving when they work together.

Greening Australia

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (6.33): I would like to take the opportunity to talk about the work undertaken by Greening Australia, its staff and the thousands of volunteers in restoring the landscape of the Cotter catchment and also to highlight the celebrations that took place on Sunday. As Minister Corbell mentioned yesterday in answer to a question without notice in this place, about 300 people turned out on Sunday to celebrate the restoration work undertaken since the 2003 bushfires. These volunteers, ably assisted by the staff of Greening Australia, planted around 2,000 understorey plants on the day, but it was not all about hard work. Believe me, planting at the Cotter is often quite hard work, depending on the particular terrain, soil and the weather. I speak from long experience. However, it is not all about hard work. It is also about community building and celebration.

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