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  Issue No 47 Official Organ of LaborNet 24 March 2000  




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A Christmas (Recruitment) Story

By Mark Hearn

Staff at the Illawarra Mutual Building Society organised their own Christmas present - and, with the help of a little e-mail, delivered 80 new members to the ASU's Clerical and Administrative Branch.


ASU Branch President Maryanne Stuart and ASU Organiser Rudi Oppitz present IMB Rep Barry Everett with the special ASU-IMB Link Certificate.

Barry Everett proudly shows me the memo recently sent out by Illawarra Mutual Building Society (IMB) management to all its staff: "we look forward to further input from the union group". No big deal?

For Barry, an Australian Services Union rep who works in IMB's accounts department, that memo represents "the greatest victory" to come out of a dispute that started last Christmas Eve. Aside, that is, from signing up 80 new members at IMB for the ASU's Clerical and Administrative Branch.

It all started with a secret Christmas present. Staff at IMB's Wollongong call centre were offered a significant pay increase - apparently IMB were tired of having their experienced staff poached by rivals. The call centre staff were firmly told by management not to tell anybody else about it.

By lunch time, and just hours before the annual Christmas party, IMB's head office staff were standing outside the building holding a stop-work meeting. They reckoned that as all IMB staff were covered by the same award, they were all entitled to a pay rise.

They also decided to sort out a few other grievances - over redundancy, maternity leave, redeployment issues. It's amazing what a little managerial motivation can deliver, isn't it? Having declared war, the ASU reps set about recruiting some more troops.

"We established an e-mail network to communicate with every staff member", Barry explains. "We marketed membership like a business. Every day we'd send out membership forms and other union information through IMB's courier network (which links all 33 IMB branches)."

"In a month we recruited fifty members and six union reps", Barry says proudly. The overall tally for the campaign has risen to 80 new members. ASU Organiser Rudi Oppitz says "the local reps worked out a clear strategy to recruit non-union members, and they stuck with it."

After a couple more stoppages and hours of negotiation the ASU and the local committee won a 11% pay increase across the board, backdated to January 6, and action on the other grievances.

"We won because we had strong backing from Rudi and the ASU", Barry insists, "and because we always consulted. The negotiating committee never made independent decisions; we always referred back to all the members."

That spirit has even spread to management, now apparently learning the lessons of openness and consultation. Merry Christmas.


*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 47 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Telstra Troubleshooter
Andrew Hillard first blew the whistle on Mal Colston�s expenses rorts; now he�s taking on Telstra over its tactics to drive down wages and conditions.
*  Unions: A Christmas (Recruitment) Story
Staff at the Illawarra Mutual Building Society organised their own Christmas present - and, with the help of a little e-mail, delivered 80 new members to the ASU's Clerical and Administrative Branch.
*  International: A Move to the Left?
John Passant look�s at �Red Ken� Livingstone�s tilt at Mayor of London and what it means for the Radical Left.
*  Legal: Going Broke: What Workers Should Do
A no nonsense guide to protecting your entitlements when the boss goes bust.
*  Politics: "I Can't Believe It's Not Peter Reith":
The NSW Labor Government is waging a dirty campaign against the NSW Teachers Federation in order to gain the upper hand in the long running award dispute.
*  History: One Big Nation
In the 1920�s rural Australia was arguing for its share of the national wealth through The Bush Workers Propaganda Group.
*  Satire: Toddler Death Fallout: BMW Releases New Oven
The Victorian Government has turned up the heat on the gambling and car industries following a spate of children being locked inside cars.
*  Review: The Stranger from Hobart
In his controversial new book, Peter Botsman lifts the lid on the unsung hero of federation, Andrew Inglis Clark

»  Insurance Deal Guarantees Entitlements
»  Casual Work Inquiry Moves Closer
»  Questions Over National Push for 36 Hours Week
»  WA Govt Pulls Plug on Unionists
»  A Fair Day�s Surf
»  Hotel Workers Jam AIRC
»  PM's Security Guards Walk off the Job
»  SOCOG Dances: Budget Not There
»  Women Win Right To Wear Trousers
»  Another Rustbucket On Our Coast
»  Catholic School Teachers Endorse Strike Action
»  We Can't Share the Spirit If We Can�t Afford the Rent
»  Unionist Honoured Posthumously
»  Radio Free East Timor

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»  The Locker Room
»  Trades Hall
»  Tool Shed

Letters to the editor
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