Dear Members,

Every year is full of challenges for the AWU, as it fights for the rights of its members, and 2012 is no exception.

So far this year we have seen job losses at Oi Glass, the threat of closure of Alcoa’s Point Henry smelter – and with it the loss of 600 direct jobs; and just to top things off, Qantas is looking to close one of its heavy maintenance facilities – which presents a threat to our 600 members at Tullamarine and Avalon.

The very high Aussie dollar might be good for Australians wanting to travel overseas, but it’s not good for local manufacturing, which is feeling the pressure more than most.

.In the case of Alcoa, we are in there fighting for our members through a review the company is conducting – the results of which are due to be revealed in June of this year.

The AWU has a strong history of economic analysis of the aluminium industry, and we have commissioned new research to help contribute to the discussion.

Point Henry is one of the major employers in the Geelong region. If it were to close, it would be a huge blow for the local economy. We have taken the case to whoever will listen. We had our first meeting with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and key Cabinet Ministers within days of Alcoa announcing its review.

The PM gave an undertaking that the Federal Government would work with the Victorian Government, the company and unions to do everything possible to see the smelter stay operational.

The Qantas heavy maintenance operation at Avalon is only up the road from Geelong, which is another point we’re pressing home as we argue for both Victorian sites to stay open. 

The AWU is ready, willing and able to participate in a public discussion with the State Government, business interests and other unions about how we are going to keep Victoria working. We will continue to make overtures until that happens.

Also on the subject of jobs, we are fighting a State Government plan to loot WorkCover to the tune of $471.5 million over the next four years. The idea is that the money would go into general revenue, and not to workplace safety and compensation for injured workers. 

At the end of the day, there is nothing more important than safety. And when a worker is injured, they must be fairly compensated to allow them to get on with their lives as best they can.

The State Government plan would turn WorkCover premiums into a tax on employment, and inevitably drive up the amount paid by employers, many of whom are already feeling the pinch.

We will keep on fighting, and we will have victories. We won’t win them all, but we will make our presence heard on your behalf.

We can achieve the most in workplaces where the AWU is a strong presence. It is important that you talk to your workmates about signing up, because we are Stronger Together.

You can always contact the AWU Victorian Branch Growth Team on 03 8324 0888 and get someone out to talk to your workmates about getting with the strength.

Yours in Unity

Cesar