11 November 2019

Today is the first day of the United Workers Union — immediately Australia’s biggest union with 150,000 members, following the merger of the National Union of Workers and United Voice. Some coverage of the merger has noted it may shift Labor leftwards [$], and while that is welcome I am more excited by the promise of a new approach to organising — articulated well for Overland by Lauren Kelly: “While the workplace remains a powerful site of collective action and struggle, we must broaden our understanding of the workplace to include all spaces that produce social value: our homes, communities, the commons and the environment at large. … Breaking away from the traditional model of unionism to become a movement embedded in broader struggles for social justice will not be easy, but this is the task at hand. As organised capital finds new and effective ways to transfer risk onto individual workers — such as through new forms of precarity, climate catastrophe, and far right movements — we must be prepared to take greater risks if we are to win. … Today is Day One and certainly many of us are excited, but there will be no pause for self-congratulatory back-patting. We must now deliver on our promises.”