The 2012 Anna Stewart Project was held form 17-‐21 September at the CSA building in Perth, presented by Keryn Anderson.
|[Picture: MUA women at Anna Stewart]|
In its 26th year, it was attended by 24 delegates and members from 13 unions throughout WA. The MUA had one of the highest representations by Nikki Smith, Michelle Tomlinson, Vicky Helps, and Mia Macbeth, a great turnout and indication of the pride, strength and importance of our union.
Anna Stewart was active in the union movement in Victoria from 1974 until 1983 when she died tragically, leaving a legacy and recognition of the need to develop strategies to address the issues confronting working women, and the need to highlight the important contribution that women make to the trade union movement. The Anna Stewart Memorial Project was conceived by the Municipal Officers Association of Victoria and born in April 1984.
The ‘Annas’, as we became known, found that there were many common issues occurring in our workplaces, all of which need to be acknowledged and addressed. These include domestic violence, which we are hoping will be included in the next EBA with leave days for those affected; bullying, discrimination, equal opportunities and casualisation of the workforce.
Casualisation of our workforces across all industries is causing destruction and a dog-‐eat-‐dog culture, where our colleagues are fighting each other within unions for jobs. This is extremely damaging to the Union and is in the process of being addressed In the MUA.
The Maritime industry differs from the other unions, with the exception of the CFMEU, in the fact that it is traditionally a male dominated workplace. This is an industry where women’s rights and values need to be equally represented and allowed for.
The programme of the Project allowed the women to share their experiences; many had been delegates for long periods of time. We all felt empowered by the environment, encouraged and buoyed up by optimism for our future, as women and as delegates; feeling respected, empowered, and valued for having a voice.
Guest speakers on the Women in Leadership panel provided a wealth of knowledge. Some of the guests included Rikki Hendon, Assistant Secretary of the CSA; Alison Xamon, MP for the Greens; Meredith Hammat, President of Unions WA; Helen Creed, and Sharryn Jackson. Wayne Wood, Secretary of the ASU, and Bronwyn Croghan, Women’s Officer of the SSTU, did a presentation on domestic violence, which was a real eye-‐opener for a lot of us. Former Annas Katrina Robertson and Sally Dennis came and held talks about their lives after Anna.
A highlight of the Project was a last-‐minute rally held at Parliament House to demonstrate the issue of paid parking for workers for government hospitals.
The MUA is undeniably leading the charge with its representation of women delegates, activists, leaders and members. On Thursday the four of us MUA women went to the Fremantle MUA branch where Linda Morich, Will Tracey,
Chris Cain and Daniel Gerrard made the time in their extremely busy day to talk to us about how women fit into the bigger picture, and the affirmative action strategy aimed at assisting rank and file women to be more engaged. This includes continuing with our involvement in rallies and campaigns, undergoing training as delegates, and continuing to sign up members. Many thanks to Linda, Will, Chris, and Daniel for speaking with us.
The issue of women’s participation is only limited by the fact that we just don’t have the numbers yet. We all know the saying power in numbers. In brief, the industry needs to accommodate women in this changing workplace.
I would encourage any women who may be interested to be involved in Anna Stewart in 2013 and to take any opportunities to train, learn, and experience the Union.