Editorial: Looking ahead to 2023

By Bill Newson, E tū National Secretary

Welcome to this final edition of our union magazine for 2022.

We close a tough year for working people. E tū members have been experiencing increased inflation on already stretched family and personal budgets.

The importance of a Living Wage and wage increases that protect our incomes against inflation are more important now than they have ever been. In the last edition of our magazine, I acknowledged those members who have made a stand for decent pay increases in recent times.

We need a better wage-setting model that provides fairness to all who work to create wealth for others and that’s why we have a lot to celebrate in the passing of historic Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs) in October.

It is fair to say that E tū has led the way on FPAs to ensure a platform of improved minimum employment conditions and to stop the ‘race to the bottom’ on workers’ wages. My thanks to all members who supported us with submissions and select committee hearings.

We can now look forward to establishing our first industry-based Fair Pay Agreements in 2023.

I have reinforced the importance of union democracy in previous introductions to our magazine. You can judge the strength of a union by the depth of its democracy.

E tū has a deep democratic structure. Our successful Biennial Conference, the highest policy making body in our union, held in July provides testament to that.

Our final National Executive meeting of this year will be appointing our Industry Councils from among expressions of interest from delegates across our union.

I am looking forward to our next round of regional Delegate Forums next April. These will be our first in-person Delegate Forums since Covid hit us in 2020. Held across our country, the Forums will be a key democratic event and I am asking all E tū delegates to try to attend.

Later in 2023 we will have our Biennial Membership Meetings, a chance for all members to hear about our union strategies and have a say.

Next year will be a year of democracy in a wider sense with the 2023 General Election providing an opportunity for all of us to have our say.

In E tū we understand that unions cannot have strong industrial outcomes without an effective political voice. In the coming general election we will be engaging on the issues and policies that effectively support workers – that is our job.

We have our sights on the issue of exploitative “dependent contracting” employment models that push all of the risk and little reward onto the shoulders of those who can least afford it.

The E tū and FIRST Union victory in the Uber case is an important first step, but we need to continue to advocate for legislative changes that resolve the core question in regard to dependent contracting – is the person doing the work genuinely in business
for themselves, or for someone else?

In 2023 we will also continue to advocate for continued apprentice training support. It was great to see our Government extend the Apprentice Boost programme in the 2022 budget, but we need to extend that support over the coming uncertain times.

I want to close by acknowledging our E tū workplace health and safety representatives. We continue to advocate for further improvement in ensuring a workers’ voice for health and safety with the extension of health and safety representation rights to all workplaces, not just those with 20 or more employees.

Please take the time to read our magazine and, on behalf of our National Executive, all the best wishes for the New Year summer period.

Thank you for being an E tū member.