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Resourcing our campaigns

Members on our Victorian Branch Council have voted to increase union fees by between 25 cents and 50 cents per week from 1 October, 2017.

This helps meet the rising costs of providing advice and support and running workplace and industry campaigns to build power and win change.

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This Is How Being Union Changed Kevin’s Life

Making ends meet on insecure hours is stressful and tough. It can be difficult to pay our rent or mortgage, and provide for our families.

Table games dealer and proud Casino Union member, Kevin Pham, used to have these worries. But not anymore.

Kevin is celebrating after becoming one of the first workers at Crown Melbourne to exercise his right to a vastly more secure job. Under our new enterprise agreement (EA) at Crown Melbourne, workers can now increase their number of guaranteed hours and even move from part-time to full-time jobs.

When Kevin first started at Crown Melbourne, he was employed as a part-time dealer that allowed him to work anywhere between 80 and 144 hours a month. And it stayed that way – until Casino Union members won a real right to greater job security.

Kevin’s new band guarantees him at least 120 hours per month, and up to 144 hours. It’s changed his life. Describing his previous working conditions as “stressful”, he was constantly worried about making up extra hours where he could and finding more shifts to take on.

“I no longer need to worry about that,” says Kevin.

“I now have secure hours and guaranteed pay. Having more money and job security has made my life at home outside of work more secure.”

At the start of our campaign for our new EA union members something was made very clear: we wanted jobs we could count on, and greater opportunities for career progression.

For the first time ever, the new EA introduced a system that required casino management to move staff from part-time to full time, or to upgrade their band if they meet certain criteria.

The battle to win recognition and more secure jobs at Crown wasn’t easy, it took thousands of Casino Union members standing together and taking action over many months. But it was definitely worth it.

“I know this wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t stand together with my colleagues last year to demand respect and fair pay from the casino,” Kevin says.

“I am so glad that because we have a strong union team, we didn’t accept any of casino management’s sub-standard offers.”

Kevin also says being a union member has helped him find out about other rights and opportunities and he knows he can get help and support at work whenever he needs it.

His words?

“Being in the union means we always have each other’s backs”. (It’s true, btw).

Kevin’s life has changed because he stood together with his workmates in his union to demand respect and good, secure jobs. And you can too. Join our team here.


This Is Why 23 Educators Are Travelling Overnight From Mildura To Melbourne This Friday

Being an early childhood educator is one of Australia’s most important jobs. But some of us are paid as little as $20 an hour.

That's why we've been hitting the streets and chaining ourselves to government buildings. This year, we even staged the largest early childhood walk-off in Australian history. 

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Thousands of educators have been standing up and demanding action. Educators just like Rav.

This is her story.

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Rav is an educator in Mildura, a regional city 550kms north of Melbourne. Last year, Rav travelled overnight to come to her first union rally. She met HUNDREDS of other educators standing up for equal pay.

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She even told her story to the media. She was all over the news that night. Her message was clear: she was there because educators are chronically undervalued, simply because our job is seen as "women's work". And she is ready to fight for change.

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But since then, our fight for equal pay has got bigger, louder and stronger. Two weeks ago when Malcolm Turnbull announced his budget, he didn’t put a single cent towards valuing our work. He could have funded equal pay, but instead he gave tax breaks to big business.

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So this Saturday, HUNDREDS of educators across Victoria are hitting the streets of Melbourne to say it’s just not good enough. We’re coming from all over the state to stand together and speak with one big, strong union voice to say: a responsible government would have already fixed this injustice.

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Because Rav and her co-delegate, Anne, were so inspired by the last rally and the walk-offs, they have signed up their workplace to our union!

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And this time, they are all coming to rally too!

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A whole busload of educators from Mildura are travelling 543 kilometres overnight to hit the streets on Saturday. They are fired up as hell and ready to yell their lungs out.

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 Why? Because we need fix this injustice. No more excuses. Let's do it. NOW!

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But we will only win by standing together - by joining our union, and taking STRONG action.

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So whether you're an educator, a parent or family member, or you just think it's outrageous that educators are still being $20 an hour, and you're in Victoria - join us this weekend and demand the government fix this injustice.

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The Walk With Educators (Big Steps Family Day) is this Saturday May 27 at 11AM in central Melbourne.

We’re meeting at Parliament Steps and walking down to Treasury Gardens, where there will be a BBQ and lots of activities – so kids are welcome! Find out more here.

Stand with us for equal pay - join our union today.


Survey exposes sexual harassment crisis in hospitality industry

A survey of hundreds of hospitality workers, released today, has found that 19 percent report being sexually assaulted at work.

Eighty-nine percent of respondents, who were predominantly young women, say they have been sexually harassed at work.

These workers say they face humiliating and sexually suggestive remarks from customers and management and co-workers, on a daily basis, as well as being bullied, groped and threatened. One worker told of being drugged and raped by her employer.

The survey gives a frightening snapshot of life for young women working in Australia’s hospitality industry.

Workers told United Voice that the culture in hospitality is one where sexual harassment is relentless and normalised. Only a third believed their employers took the issue seriously.

The survey release comes as the hospitality union United Voice announces it will hold crisis meetings with workers and employers to find ways to make hospitality workplaces safer.

Jess Walsh, Victorian Secretary of United Voice, the hospitality union, said the survey results were an indictment on the hospitality industry.

“The stories people have told us are horrible. Every day young women are go to work feeling unsafe, in fear of being groped, humiliated or threatened by customers or managers,” she said.

“'The culture today in many venues seems to be 'if you don't like it you can leave' and 'if you speak up then don't come back'.”

“Some employers put young workers’ safety and well-being well behind their customers' desire to have another drink. It's wrong and it's dangerous. Young workers' safety needs to come first second and third in the hospitality industry.”

“This is the first experience of work for so many young people. Hospitality employers have an important responsibility to get it right for young workers. Lots do but so many are seriously letting their workers down. We want to work with those employers who are doing the right thing to tackle this issue head on.”

“If you’re a young hospitality worker, it’s time to join together and change this. You have a right to feel safe and respected when you’re at work.”

Explained one of workers surveyed: “One night we were having drinks after work and my manager followed me into the women's bathrooms. When I went to close the cubicle door he used the next cubicle over to jump over the wall to try and get at me.”

Said another: “I’ve been sexually harassed many times! Worst time was when a bloke was hitting on me. I was friendly but firm and told him I wasn't interested. He then told me he would find me and rape me. The boss only called the police because he walked out on a $200 bill. I was 17 and hid in the kitchen crying. They served him again another time a few months later.”

A third worker commented: “At a café I worked at they allowed a man to harass me during my shifts by coming in several times during the day, sometimes not ordering, but standing near the counter to stare at me and asking personal questions, they didn't want to start anything with him so I had to deal with it.”

Women made up 90 per cent of those surveyed. Most respondents were under 34 years old, with about half (49 per cent) younger than 24.

Further info: Tim Petterson, United Voice Communications Director 0438 399 973


FAST FACTS: SEXUAL HARASSMENT SURVEY

  • 89% have experienced sexual harassment at work
  • 86% have felt unsafe, uncomfortable or at risk in their workplace
  • Sexual harassment in hospitality looks like:
    • 87% reported experiencing sexist comments
    • 85% reported comments on their body
    • 84% reported sexual innuendo/insinuations
    • 73% reported unwanted sexual advances
    • 69% reported being touched inappropriately
    • 49% reported being bullied
    • 19% reported being sexually assaulted
  • Do you believe your employer takes sexual harassment in the workplace seriously?
    • 48.2% No
    • 36.5% Yes
    • 15.3% Unsure
  • Type of employment
    • 68%Casual
    • 32% Permanent
  • Age
    • 49% of respondents were under 24 years old
    • 89% of respondents were under 34 years old
  • Gender
    • 90% of respondents were female
    • 8% of respondents were male
    • 2% of respondents identified as ‘other’
  • The survey was conducted online by United Voice Victoria between January and March with 306 hospitality workers. 

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How #MeetWithMargarita Conquered Canberra

For the last two weeks Margarita has waged an epic campaign to get a meeting with Malcolm Turnbull to ask him why he supports cutting her penalty rates.

She only earns $30,000 and stands to lose $2,000 every year. It’s a pay cut she can’t afford and doesn’t deserve.  

So yesterday, Margarita flew to Canberra to track Malcolm down. And what followed surpassed every expectation:

6.30AM: While waiting for her flight, Margarita sees her full page ad in the paper demanding a meeting with Malcolm. It was crowdfunded by over 700 people across the country raising $22,000 – who all stand with her and 700,000 retail, fast food & hospitality workers facing a pay cut.

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8.30AM: Margarita arrives at Parliament House ready to find the PM and ask him why he is cutting her pay.

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9.30AM – 12.00PM: Margarita spends the morning meeting with MPs across the country who supported her. Over and over, they told her they’re with her 100% in the fight to stop cuts to her penalty rates.

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12.15PM: #MeetWithMargarita started trending on Twitter – in the #1 spot! Support was pouring out across the whole country.

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12.30PM: Margarita meets Labor Leader, Bill Shorten. He tells her he will always fight for working people – just like her.

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1.00PM: Senate votes YES to protecting penalty rates, after cross-bench senators Derryn Hinch, Nick Xenophon & Pauline Hanson do a backflip and abandon Malcolm Turnbull.

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3.15: Margarita watches Turnbull in Question Time try to defend his cuts. She’s just metres away but he’s too gutless to meet her. Or perhaps he was too busy fine-dining with the very same bosses who want to cut her pay.

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4.00PM: Tanya Plibersek tells parliament why she was so proud to #MeetWithMargarita. And she gives Libs shouting across the room a major burn. 

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4.30PM: Margarita sets off for home, feeling rightly proud of how one strong, courageous woman conquered Canberra.

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6.30AM (the next day): Margarita wakes up this morning to find out she is on the front page of the Australian! They were trying to attack her – but the reality is she couldn’t be prouder to be union.

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Margarita showed Canberra and the Liberals she is a force to be reckoned with. She is not scared. And she’s going to keep standing up in her union and fighting for what’s right.

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Stand with Margarita and hundreds of thousands of workers facing a pay cut by signing this petition to Malcolm Turnbull.


11 Awesome Ways Hotel Cleaner Margarita Demanded A Meeting With Malcolm Turnbull

Margarita is a hotel cleaner. She’s worked every Sunday for 30 years, but is set to lose about $2,000 each year if Malcolm Turnbull slashes penalty rates for hundreds of thousands of retail, fast food and hospitality workers. 

She isn’t standing for it – and is determined AF to meet with Turnbull and ask him why her pay should be cut.

So she’s off to Canberra THIS THURSDAY and will do whatever it takes to get a meeting with him – including featuring in a full page ad in Turnbull’s favourite newspaper. 

This is how she's getting the attention of Malcolm Turnbull:

1. Bill Shorten told her story in an impassioned speech in Question Time.

“Her Sunday penalty rates help her put food on the table and buy shoes for her kids.” 

2. She made a video calling on Prime Minister Turnbull to meet with her.

3. Then Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews wanted to meet her.

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He told her he supports her penalty rates. And will do whatever he can to defend them.

4. Told her story at a rally. Before. Fifteen. Thousand. Workers.

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She nailed it, btw.

5. Her story was told on the 7.30 report.

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ACTU Secretary Sally McManus spoke about Margarita on her first day on the job as the voice of almost two million union members.

6. She got HUNDREDS of people to call Malcolm Turnbull’s office.

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And with the call to action came some pretty dank memes.

7. Then she got her co-workers to speak out too.

8. Father Bob even got on board the campaign.

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Thanks, Comrade Bob!

9. Then Van Badham live streamed with her on Facebook.

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Van wondered if maybe Malcolm Turnbull was just too gutless to meet with Margarita. If he won’t meet with her, she certainly will.

10. Support was pouring from across the country.

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Because an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.

11. She raised tens of thousands of dollars to put a meeting request in Turnbull’s favourite newspaper.

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And this was all done in just two weeks. But Malcolm hasn’t responded yet – so this Thursday, she is heading to Canberra to track him down. Help her get her meeting with Malcolm Turnbull by chipping in for a meeting request he cannot ignore.


Gallery Heist: NGV guards rally, demanding $3mil in stolen wages

Dozens of United Voice security union members will rally today outside the National Gallery of Victoria - International to demand that its disgraced contractor Business Risks International (BRI) repay as much as $3mil in stolen wages.

Earlier this month BRI Security was exposed in the media for underpaying gallery guards by almost $20 an hour in some cases.

Guards report being hired by BRI and then transferred to fly-by-night subcontractors NSG and Java who underpay guards, and in some cases paid guards cash-in-hand. Some guards caught up in this racket are recent refugees.

An analysis by United Voice lawyers of a roster at a BRI subcontractor revealed an average underpayment of $14,272.96 per year. United Voice believes that 100 of NGV’s 150 guards were engaged via subcontractors and the collective underpayment could total as much as $3mil since BRI took over in April 2015.

The Victorian Government reacted to the scandal by appointing auditing firm KPMG to investigate, and has said it may refer BRI allegations to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Belinda Panalou, a NGV guard who underpaid then sacked after speaking out, told the ABC that working at Victoria’s world-renowned gallery was like “an illegal sweatshop.”

"I can't even walk into the NGV anymore … it's lost its reputation for me and I consider it now to be like an illegal sweatshop," said Ms Panalou.

Jess Walsh, Victorian Secretary of United Voice, the Security Union, said the wage theft scandal shamed our state.

“Victorians should be appalled by these revelations. They bring shame on this state and our most prestigious cultural institution.”

“BRI and their dodgy subcontractors have stolen millions of dollars in unpaid wages from our members and their families. Today, we are saying we want it back. Now.”

“The State Government needs to step in now and fix this. They need to terminate BRI’s contract and send a strong message they won’t tolerate wage theft. Not here. Not anywhere.”

Subcontracting in the security industry is out of control. A union survey conducted recently revealed 56% of respondents stated that subcontracting was happening at their workplace.

"We see subcontracting happening almost everywhere in the security industry at the moment; and subcontracting usually is part of a deliberate strategy to sidestep basic Award standards like minimum rates of pay and other entitlements," Ms Walsh said.

"Clearly there needs to be much stronger standards in the way the State Government awards its contracts, so this systemic wage theft can never happen again. It needs to have see a zero tolerance policy when it comes to wage theft.”

BRI is contracted to guard other well-known public institutions, including the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Australia Council, Public Record Office of Victoria and La Trobe University.

Media contact: Tim Petterson, United Voice Victoria Communications Director 0438 399 973 


Our resolution to #FIGHTinequality

At the United Voice Victorian Leaders Convention last week, delegates and leaders from across our union put forward a resolution to #FIGHTinequality.

The theme of the day was Together we are Powerful - and that's how we're going to tackle inequality and stand up for good, secure jobs.

The Convention notes that:

  1. Insecure and low-paid jobs are growing
  2. These jobs are bad for people and the economy

The Convention calls for:

  1. An economy that has more secure, sustainable fulltime employment with good working conditions and greater equality for all.
  2. A focus on Australian jobs & Australian owned & made products
  3. Where we all earn a living wage for what we do and have certainty in the hours we work & in our future.

The Convention resolves to:

  1. Join together to to bring everyone into the union movement and help them be more active through education
  2. We will educate the community about who we are & what we stand for
  3. We will use the power of the Union for political influence to deliver the economy we need
  4. We are going to unite all industries & all unions to fight to drive this change

Australians hit the panic button over rising inequality

Hundreds of United Voice members, including low-paid cleaners, early childhood educators, hospitality workers and guards are hitting the panic button over rising inequality.

Today hundreds of low-paid cleaners, childcare educators, hospitality workers and security guards will hold a noisy demonstration outside Flinders Street Station demanding the Federal Government take urgent action to address growing inequality in Australia.

A national poll of voters has revealed almost 70 percent of Australians believe the gap between rich and poor is getting bigger and a similar number believe the Turnbull government is not doing enough to close this widening gap.

The poll of 3,896 voters across Australia found that 68.8% say the gap between rich and poor is getting bigger, including 50.3 % of LNP voters.

The poll also revealed extreme levels of concern about flat-lining wages and reduced job security. It found:

•       60% said the current minimum wage is too low, including 41.8% of LNP voters.

•       78.5% of voters believe jobs are becoming less secure, including 68.9 % of LNP voters, while just 5.8% of those polled said the minimum wage is too high.

•       67.8 percent said the Federal Government was not doing enough to address the gap between rich and poor, including 41.7% of LNP voters.

A United Voice analysis found that Australia’s current minimum wage of $17.70 per hour has fallen from 65 per cent of median earnings in 1985 to 53 per cent in 2015.

Earlier this week United Voice called on the Fair Work Commission to set four-year targets for minimum wage increases to arrest growing inequality, with a "floor" proposed as 60 percent of the median earnings by 2020.

United Voice's submission, filed on Monday and backed by the ACTU, estimates this would see the minimum weekly wage of $672.70 reach $866.68 in four years – an increase of 29 per cent that would boost the hourly rate from $17.70 an hour to $22.81.

The ReachTEL poll was conducted on the evening of Wednesday 12 October with 3,896 voters across Australia and has a 2.1 percent margin of error.


Make it count: election scorecard

We asked United Voice members and supporters what mattered to you.

And now we’ve crunched the policies of the major parties. Use this scorecard to see how they stack up on the issues that matter most. 

Your vote is so powerful - so use it wisely!

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