The Australian Workers’ Union is the nation’s oldest and largest blue-collar trade union representing more than 100,000 working men & women and their families.
Since our formation in 1886 we have a proud record of standing up for working families from all walks of life.
Some of the earliest stories about the AWU come from when shearers organised to fight a pay cut demanded by the squatters. The brutal shearers’ strike of 1891 ultimately ended in defeat for the union, but it was a victory for democracy and led to members deciding they needed a voice in Parliament . And so it was that the AWU played a part in the formation of the Australian Labor Party.
Following Federation, the AWU was the first union to secure a Federal Award system - the Pastoral Industry Award - under the new conciliation and arbitration system created in 1904. With this Award, the AWU was able to ensure that workers, not just bosses, had a say in setting pay rates and workplace conditions.
The Federated Ironworkers Association (FIA) was another early union, and one with which the AWU had common interests. The two worked closely together over the years, with talk of amalgamation dating back to the 1920s.
By 1991, the FIA had brought together a number of influential unions - including the Australasian Society of Engineers, the Glassworkers’ Union and the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners - under one national body called the Federation of Industrial, Manufacturing and Engineering Employees (FIMEE).
The AWU and FIMEE amalgamated in 1993.
Nationally, the AWU employs more than 200 officials, in 45 offices around the country to ensure that all of our members get a fair go at work.
Ours is a diverse union representing workers in the manufacturing, steel, aluminium, glass, oil & gas, aviation, agriculture, construction, state public services, local government, health, plastics, hospitality, food, paper, resources, aquaculture, events and racing industries.
Not only do we stand up for our members rights at work, we also work hard to ensure all working Australians get a better deal as well through our many political and community campaigns.
In an era when we are told that trade union membership overall is diminishing, the AWU continues to grow in the number of members, and its sphere of influence.