ACTU Congress 2012 – Opening Day

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Trust a nurse to make a great first impression.

Ged Kearney, President of the ACTU, didn’t disappoint in her opening address to the ACTU Congress 2012.

Proudly flaunting her union background, Ged spoke eloquently about first joining the nurses’ union in Melbourne as a young nurse and taking industrial action in the ’80s around shiftwork.

This year’s theme of the ACTU Congress is Secure Jobs. Better Future. Around 40% of workers are engaged as casuals, on short term contracts, in labour hire or as “independent” contractors.

Ged outlined the many challenges facing the union movement today, not least of which is trying to organise a “collective movement in an individualistic age” while still making sure that the most vulnerable workers are heard amidst the noise of “conservative orthodoxy” being pushed by the Liberal Party.

The elephant in the room, HSU East’s recent corruption and governance issues, was also discussed.

Ged, along with outgoing ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence and incoming Secretary-elect Dave Oliver, was clear about “zero tolerance” for misappropriation of funds or corruption.

The message was clear: the trust with union members can never be broken.

Nevertheless, the day ended on a high, with the Equal Pay campaign by ASU and the aged care Because We Care campaign being lauded – workforces largely made up of women.

All in all it was a great start to a Congress that will tackle issues from fostering a younger generation of union members to equality for women in unions.

Watch this space.

Image credit: Michael Clayton-Jones

Don’t forget our International Nurses Day contest – the best photo of nurses celebrating will win a two-night stay in the Hunter Valley.

Remember to sign the NSWNA Recency of Practice Petition!

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