Statement from ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence

I have decided not to re-nominate for the position of Secretary at the ACTU Congress in May.
 
I will turn 60 during the Congress, and have been assessing my future after five years in this role.
 
Over the next few years, Australian unions will face a number of challenges and I cannot be sure I can commit to a full three year term, so after consultation with my colleagues, I feel it is appropriate for me to step aside at Congress.

What has always motivated me has been to improve the lives of working Australians, particularly the low-paid. I am extremely proud of the 35 years I have spent in the Australian labour movement, and the achievements over the past five years at the ACTU.
 
These achievements include:

  • Joining Sharan Burrow to lead the Your Rights at Work campaign which defeated the Howard Government and got rid of WorkChoices.
  • Negotiating the Fair Work Act, which strengthened collective bargaining rights, got rid of AWA individual contracts, restored the safety net, and reinstated the independent umpire. Establishing a set of Fair Work Principles for government procurement.
  • Gaining real wage increases for Australia's lowest-paid workers.
  • The campaign to abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
  • Supporting the increase of superannuation to 12%.
  • Pay equity for social and community sector workers.
  • The first universal paid parental leave scheme.
  • Ensuring that working people have a voice in national debates, such as the Tax Forum.
  • Providing a united union position at ALP conferences both in 2009 and 2011.

Most importantly of all, I am proud that we have a strong and united union movement, dedicated to campaigning for secure jobs and a better future for working people.
 
There are challenges ahead, with a threat posed by the concerted employer/Liberal Party campaign to reinstate WorkChoices, but I am confident the union movement is in a good position to confront these threats to working Australians and their families.
 
The Secure Jobs. Better Future campaign provides the platform for a strong, campaigning union movement.
 
In recent days I have had discussions with my colleagues in the union movement to ensure that there is an orderly process for the election of the next Secretary. All ACTU officer positions, including the Secretary, will be elected at Congress. In the meantime, there is much to be done developing policies and preparing for the Congress.
 
I want to thank my fellow elected officers, past and present, the dedicated ACTU staff, and, of course, my wife, Judy, for their support over the past five years.