Forward from Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey
At the beginning of this year I said 2022 would be the year of the strike. Not because I had any inkling we would be in the current high cost, high interest rate environment, but because workers who worked through the COVID pandemic constantly told me they were exhausted, felt disrespected and hadn’t received a decent pay rise for years.
When teachers, paramedic, nurses and school administration staff are marching on the street you know the system is broken.
However, 2022 is the year which demonstrates it’s not simply about pay. It’s also about workplace conditions, the constant staff shortages, and resource cut backs which cause exhaustion and the failure by employers to retain skilled staff. In a survey of public sector workers conducted this year, 6 out of 10 said they were considering leaving the professions they loved because of exhaustion, poor working conditions, lack of staffing and the pay. It is an indictment on the Perrottet Government that Victoria Health is advertising in NSW for healthcare staff saying their pay and conditions are better.
The term essential worker has been changed and broadened as a result of the COVID pandemic. It now encapsulates anyone who worked through the pandemic to provide services and keep the NSW economy going. Our current campaign for the 2023 NSW State Election “Essential Workers Deserve Better: Pay Them What They’re Worth” seeks to capture this sentiment in its call to action, which will hopefully bring a change of government in 2023.
For Unions NSW it was a year we continued to build capacity within the movement through the Union Summer Winter programs, which continue to bring smart energetic young people into our movement, many of who have gone on to be employed by affiliates. Our field organisers for the federal and state elections are engaged young people who have been trained in campaigning and will undoubtably go on to work in our movement as the next generation of union campaigners and organisers.
Our Visa Assist program continues to grow with 800 individual legal services provided throughout the year, and our connections with migrant workers and communities continue to deepen. This year’s wage theft report launched by the Hon. Andrew Giles, showed that over 60% of job advertisements continue offering illegal rates of pay.
Finally, the beginning of 2023 has marked a serious escalation in our campaign activities for the NSW state election. We all know how difficult it has been for unions under successive conservative governments for the past decade. This year we cannot afford to lose and Unions NSW is all in to remove the Perrottet Government and to restore fairness in our state’s industrial relations system.