Queensland unions will fight on the battleground of secure jobs after statewide workers’ forums endorsed this election campaign focus at a final Congress meeting in Brisbane today.
Union members, delegates and leaders identified job creation and insecure employment in regional communities as critical to building a better future for all Queenslanders as the state prepares for an election by March 2018.
Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Ros McLennan said the Congress endorsed policies that focus on creation of good jobs for Queensland workers through stimulating employment and leveraging the government’s spending power.
Ms McLennan said union members would use the coming state election to quiz all candidates on their policies for investment in skills and training, support for regional communities and keeping public assets in public hands.
Protecting penalty rates and employment conditions would also be important points for any union support, as these were critical factors in reducing income inequality, Ms McLennan said.
“Support for union growth and workers’ rights will be crucial to any backing for candidates or parties.
“We keep hearing about how workers need to stand up and ask for wage increases, so we want our politicians to show that they support the laws that allow workers to ask for more,” she said.
Ms McLennan said the Congress recommended that the QCU Executive develop a dedicated campaign to roll out in the lead up to the State Election to progress policy priorities.
“This campaign will have a particular focus on those issues that are most widely and deeply felt by Queenslanders and that will make the greatest difference to workers’ lives,” she said.
“Today’s Congress was a fantastic event, rightly held in the publicly-available space of Parliament House, because these are important ideas that will improve the life of every Queenslander,” she said.
Regional forums have already been held in Mackay, Cairns, Townsville, Bundaberg and Rockhampton, with the final Congress today.
Ms McLennan said strong participation in the regional forums reflects mounting concern about secure jobs in regional communities.
“The trend jobless rate in Queensland is around 6.3 per cent last month while youth unemployment is running much higher at 13.5 per cent annually,” said Ms McLennan.
“Meanwhile ABS figures this month show business profits have grown 39 per cent in a year while wages growth has flat-lined at just 0.9 per cent annually.
“People have never felt less secure in their employment, the share of productivity going to workers continues to decline,” said Ms McLennan.
“Our lowest paid workers in the retail, hospitality, fast food and pharmacy sectors face a pay cut from 1 July if federal Parliament doesn’t act to protect Sunday penalty rates.
“More people than ever before feel insecure in their employment, and communities across the entire state are struggling with jobless rates,” she said.
Corporate use of labour hire to erode wages and conditions was a critical issue in regional and metropolitan areas of the state, she said.
Many of the policy objectives from the first statewide triennial QCU Congress in 2014 are now in place – positive outcomes like retaining public assets in public hands, fairer workplace laws, leave provisions for workers dealing with domestic violence, and mandatory licensing to stamp out dodgy labour hire operators.