The MUA’s own, Deputy National Secretary Mick Doleman was bestowed with an ACTU Award in recognition of his long service to the MUA and wider union movement.
In a surprise diversion from the 2015 Congress agenda, ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick called Doleman to the stage presenting delegates with a brief overview of his achievements.
Borowick made particular mention of Doleman’s dedication to occupational health and safety. Upon receiving his award he talked about how he knew he had made the right decision in becoming a union leader.
“You can't have a better life than representing working people from this country and from around the globe,” he said.
Not long after accepting his award, praise started streaming in and as a result the word ‘Mick Doleman’ began trending on Twitter:
Here are some of the congratulatory tweets from delegates from the floor:
Doleman was not the only MUA delegate to make centre stage. Women’s Liaison Officer Mich-Elle Myers was afforded an opportunity to speak on the recent Women in Male Dominated Occupations and Industries conference which was held in Sydney earlier this month.
Myers talked about some of the issues she had come across as the first female wharfie at Port Botany.
“WiMDOI offers women who work in factories, in construction, in meat works, and all other male dominated workplaces to regroup and address some of the unique problems they face going forward,” she said.
“It’s an important event that I urge all ACTU affiliates to support.”
Keynote speaker, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was inspirational enough to garner a number of standing ovations from delegates.
“The trade union movement has been a big part of my life and it always will be,” Shorten said.
“All of you can be proud of your history, fighting for the best outcomes for people in their jobs, their conditions and working constructively with employers to ensure productive, competitive, successful and safe workplaces.
“Like all of you, I believe in the creation of wealth – the pre-requisite to growth and fairness in Australia. Like all of you, I believe in the fair distribution of national income, the creative, productive outcome of what working people contribute every day.
“I understand, like you, the real heartbeat of the economy ticks over in the workplaces you represent. I know you are criticised – periodically – for being a strong, sensible representative set of organisations.
“But what unions do well, is they tell it how it really is. “
The anti-union stereotype, the dog-whistling of this current government is running out of puff.”
Like day one, the afternoon sessions were dominated by individual workshops, used to form ACTU policy going forward.
In the public services workshop, much of the debate centred around privatisation and how it had been devastating for many workers, particularly those in the public sector.
Although the draft policy talked about the selling-off of public services amendments were inserted to include opposing any kind of privatisation, including of public-owned assets.
Another contentious inclusion in the draft policy denounced the pro-surplus agenda of Australian Governments, which read as condemning the “short-term and narrow preoccupation with surpluses, driven largely by party political positioning, is inconsistent with building and maintaining high-quality and accessible public services and assets.”
Both Sydney Branch Secretary Paul McAleer and ACTU Youth Representative and MUA Organiser Jason Miners attended the Organising Young Workers session. Miners who was a key speaker said the ACTU’s youth policy was endorsed.
He said there was discussions about the challenges of organising young people and the potential for growth and empowerment. “There’s a need for better education and targeting of school aged people even before they enter the workforce,” he said.
“I spoke on union youth structures that work and how proper resources can ensure youth activism increased if young workers have ownership in their respective unions.”
NT Branch Secretary Thomas Mayor attended the constitutional recognition session where delegates heard from an all-indigenous female panel with opposing and supporting views on the Recognise Campaign and Constitutional Change.
“It was a very interesting discussion,” Mayor said.
“The ‘No’ view was mainly based on a concern that a referendum on constitutional change without sovereignty being a part of the gain would delay the ability to achieve sovereignty and treaty. It was argued that once this goes to referendum the wind will be out of the movements sails. There was also concern about the wording at the end of the day.
“The ‘Yes’ view was that this is a step that does not stop our ability to campaign for sovereignty. The argument was that you don’t hold out forever to get everything in one go, you have to make gains step by step. Also that there are racist sections of the constitution that must be removed as soon as possible.”
Mayor asked the panel their thoughts on land tenure and how it fit into the Constitutional Recognition Campaign, this then formed a motion, tabled by Mayor, to be discussed on the floor on day three.
Women's Liaison Officer Mich-Elle Myers attended the Work, Life, Family session which was dominated by discussion condemning the recent attacks by the Abbott Government on maternity leave.
"Tony Abbott went from an election promise of parental leave for six months on full pay to his current determination of trying to unravel the few provisions women have in terms of maternity leave," Myers said.
"Delegates also talked about the effects of Fly-In-Fly-Out jobs and the fact that those jobs create stress on the family unit. As a result we were successful in having the recognition of FIFO workers enshrined into ACTU policy."
Following the sessions all ACTU delegates reconvened in the main hall to pass a number of resolutions, most notably WA Branch Secretary Christy Cain moved a condemnation of Chevron resolution and it was seconded by the CFMEU's Joe McDonald.
In speaking to the motion, Cain lamented the anti-worker actions of Chevron and its atrocious safety record.
He also told the crowd that he was unable to walk down St Georges Terrace in Perth because of an injunction Chevron had put on.
The motion was passed unanimously.
Day two was closed with Congress Dinner and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard at her most engaging self.
Although, most of her speech covered her current pursuits, particularly in her role as chair for the Global Partnership for Education, she did divert her attention to Australian politics in saying there was a need to remove the current government before more damage could be inflicted on Australian society.