Geared Up for the Fight: MUA Members Ready to Take on Abbott

Members from around the country are now better equipped to take on the Abbott Government after participating in a three-day Campaigns Intensive course held in the Victorian Branch last week. 

The MUA and Victorian Trades Hall Council joint initiative delivered skills-based training to more than 60 members, with a particular focus on women, youth, veterans and Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander members.


The Campaigns Intensive was designed to build the campaigning capacity of each branch of the MUA to further develop activists to allow them to take their new skills and tools to roll out future MUA campaigning at a local level. As such, the training included core campaigning theory as well as hands-on skills development for recruiting of activists, identifying campaign objectives and messages, measuring campaign success and using social media to get the message out.

The participants were involved in one-to-one phone banking conversations with MUA members about jobs across the maritime industries and asking them to assist in getting the message out to the general public.

By using their own personal narrative about the key issues facing our members today, the team built up to a major doorknocking exercise in a marginal seat complete with a full debrief and role play in Geelong and 90 minutes of doorknocking.


In total the team knocked on 464 doors and had 173 real conversations with members of the public about jobs in the maritime industry and the need to remove the Abbott Government at the next Federal election.

The response was overwhelmingly positive and we had dozens of photographs or ‘selfies’ taken with Geelong residents holding up a sign ‘I Support Aussie Jobs and Aussie Industries’.

The content of the three days training was developed by Campaigns & Projects Co-ordinator Samantha Bond in conjunction with the Victorian Trades Hall Council Campaigns team, particularly Luke Hilakari, Wil Stracke, Edwina Byrne and Ted Sussex (Corangamite ACTU Target Seat Co-ordinator).


All three VTHC officers gave presentations during the training and highlighted the successful activities of the ‘We Are Union’ campaign that assisted in removing the LNP Government in Victoria last year. Based on traditional grassroots training models, this intensive has provided skills and tools to roll out future activities in every branch, including providing direct campaign support to the ACTU Build a Better Future Campaign.

Particular highlights of the Campaigns Intensive were guest speakers Kahlani Pryah from United Voice who was able to share her story as the young woman who took on fast food chain ‘Grill’d’ for underpayment of casual workers and won.


Thomas Mayor also talked about the MUA’s Social Compact work with Indigenous Communities and Mick Doleman introduced the Maritime International Federation to the course participants over lunch on the second day.

Social activities at night included a hearty discussion at Thursday’s Politics in the Pub featuring Mich-Elle Myers (Women), Percy White (Veteran), Thomas Mayor (ATSI) and Jimmy Harris (Youth) and MC’d by Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray. Audience members were queuing up to ask questions of the panel and the Victorian Trades Hall Choir surprised everyone by performing a flash mob during the discussion.


ACTU President Ged Kearney also spoke to the dinner on Friday night and delighted the participants with her reminiscences of the ‘98 Patricks dispute as well as asking for our ongoing support in the Build a Better Future campaign.

Each branch team developed an Action Plan including key activities to engage with ATSI, Women, Youth and Veterans for ongoing MUA campaigning both to assist in the removal of the Abbott Government at the next election as well as maintaining the fight for decent jobs and conditions in all maritime industries into the future.