Unionists build solidarity with CFMEU and CPSU


Howard Byrnes from the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) and Lisa Newman from the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) addressed a forum organised by the Sydney Union Activists Network on November 15.

Byrnes, a CFMEU delegate and member of the union's state management committee spoke about the kangaroo court that is Prime Minister Tony Abbott's union royal commission.

Byrnes told the meeting that "nothing of substance" had been revealed in the commission regarding the CFMEU, but that this had not stopped the government and the tabloid media's malicious campaign to discredit the union.

The commission has now been extended for 12 months.

Newman told the meeting about the historic campaign the CPSU is launching in a growing number of agencies against the government's budget agenda.

CPSU members in the Department of Human Services, the Taxation Office and Veterans Affairs have so far voted for industrial action to fend off the attacks on public servants' wages and conditions.

Newman said there was a lot of anger among CPSU members towards the federal government's bargaining policy, which dictates that public servants will have to "fund their own pay increase through productivity gains" which means attacks on staffing, and "ripping entitlements" away.

"It's a zero per cent with cuts offer,” Newman explained.

The campaign has already had a positive impact, and CPSU membership has grown significantly over the past six months.

The Sydney Union Activist Network was established to build a network of union activists and supporters to promote action by the union movement against the government's attacks, to build links within and across unions and to give solidarity to unions under attack.

The next organising meeting will be on January 31, at The Gaelic Club in Surry Hills. Email unionfightbacknsw@gmail.com for more information.

[Susan Price is one of three co-convenors of the Union Activist Network.]

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