Rail union militant campaigns for membership control

Issue 

Rail union militant campaigns for membership control

By Bill Mason

BRISBANE — Gary Dale, a suburban train guard with Queensland Rail, has launched a campaign for membership accountability and militant policies in the state branch of the Public Transport Union.

In February-March, Dale won 34% of the vote in an election for PTU branch president against incumbent Trevor Campbell. Despite having to fund the campaign from his own pocket, Dale gained an impressive 986 votes, compared to 1929 for Campbell, who had the full support of the union officialdom and significant resources.

"The percentage of rank-and-file workers who voted for me sends a message to our union officials that they have had enough of the trade-offs through enterprise bargaining, for starters", Dale commented after the election.

"My campaign ran on issues of concern not only to PTU members, but to other workers in this country", Dale added.

Dale is especially concerned about lack of democracy in the union. He was prevented from having his policy statement printed in the union journal before the election, for example.

Supporters of the Campbell leadership tore down Dale's leaflets from workplace noticeboards, and removed his fliers from lunchrooms.

In his campaign literature, Dale had criticised the ramming through of Enterprise Bargaining Agreement 2 just before Christmas 1994, without adequate time for members to consider controversial issues in the agreement.

The EBA 2, which runs till November 1996, includes "trading off conditions for no real dollar benefit", Dale said.

He further asked what the union management was doing about key questions: "The future of station staff under a cloud", "Bus drivers facing a productivity crunch", "Contract labour threatening more jobs", "QR branch lines on Death Row", "Massive 33 1/3% increase in union dues this year", "Costly court fight with our AFULE (Drivers Union) workmates", and "No branch Annual General Meeting for 20 years".

Dale declares his determination to continue his campaign for internal union democracy and policies in the interests of the rank and file. Attempts to stifle his campaign have so far included threats of legal action for alleged libel from Campbell and PTU branch secretary Les Crofton.

Dale is seeking support from other PTU members in continuing the struggle to change the union.