We’ll be tackling lots of big topics and issues this Congress in the form of facilitated workshops and sessions. These will be designed to enable Delegates to actively participate in discussions.
In preparation for this, Delegates will need to undertake some pre-reading on these topics and issues below.
Facilitated by: FSU First Nations Committee
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation to the Australian people from First Nations Australians. It asks Australians to walk together to build a better future by establishing a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution, and the establishment of a Makarrata Commission for the purpose of treaty making and truth-telling.
In this session, we will hear from our First Nations Committee members. They will invite us to listen, hear and take into our hearts the message conveyed in the Uluru Statement.
We will stand in solidarity with our First Nations members so that our union reflects our democratic and organised nature as we commit our full support for a Voice enshrined in the Constitution.
Supporting the Voice to Parliament is a natural expression of our Union values. Like our actions in workplaces, the Voice will provide a platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have their voices heard.
As unionists, we believe in the importance of consultation and collective strength, and the Voice to Parliament aligns with these values. It will help facilitate a future where Indigenous communities have the power to determine their own policy solutions, leading to a more equitable and just society.
Meet our First Nations Committee members
The Uluru Statement from the Heart
Voice to Parliament (Reconciliation Australia)
Has your employer committed to the Voice?
History is calling! Thomas Mayo is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man, national Indigenous Officer of the Maritime Union of Australia and member of the referendum working group.
Read his article The right side of history or listen to his recent podcast Just how elite are the people behind the voice where Thomas tells his union story and how his union experience has given him the tools to campaign for a Voice.
Featuring: FSU members Justine Sherwood, Meg Nair, Samantha Halliday and Caroline Troupe
Over the last few years, we have run workplace and industry wide campaigns on issues that matter most to our members.
From campaigning to vote NO against our biggest banks and insurers, to securing menstruation and menopause leave. Together, we are building a stronger union and winning on the most important issues.
In this session, we will hear directly from our leaders who led winning campaigns across their workplaces.
This is a session designed to celebrate our union victories!
If you want to know more about these victories, check out the links below.
NAB NO vote
In November 2022, having been in negotiations with NAB for six months, management walked away from discussions and proceeded to put its non-union endorsed EA proposal to ballot.
This anti-worker proposal would have delivered, during a cost-of-living crisis, real world pay cuts, removing long standing conditions including annual leave loading and grandfathering rostered days off (RDOs), and compounded the hours of work crisis across the bank.
Members said, “enough is enough”, and over a three-week period mobilised their colleagues through early morning point of entries, information booths, team meeting presentations, workplace discussions and thousands upon thousands of conversations.
When the ballot result was announced members had won, having successfully engaged with and convinced over 13,000 of their colleagues to vote no.
Negotiations have since recommenced with management having to concede our members concerns require genuine solutions.
The finance industry has one of the highest gender pay gaps with the gap sitting at almost 30% of total remuneration. Research shows that pay transparency can reduce the gender pay gap by up to 30%.
Between 2019 and 2022, the FSU ran a pay transparency campaign and worked with ALP politicians to force big bank CEOs to commit to removing pay secrecy clauses. In 2022, the Albanese Federal Government passed the “Secure Jobs Better Pay” Bill that outlawed pay confidentiality clauses from agreements and individual contracts, putting into law the win for which FSU members had campaigned so hard for.
CBA wage theft
For more than a decade, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) had been offering employees dodgy individual agreements as a way of avoiding providing union-won entitlements under the FSU negotiated Enterprise Agreement (EA). These were also offered under the banner of CommSec to new employees who did not know any better.
The FSU campaigned against the use of these individual agreements for years, arguing that their conduct was unlawful and that workers were being underpaid. Recently, as part of a Federal Court action launched by the Fair Work Ombudsman, the CBA admitted that Senior HR managers knew of this systemic conduct, admitted to serious breaches of the EA, and to contravening the Fair Work Act with thousands of staff being underpaid more than $16 million.
CBUS first to adopt menstruation and menopause leave
Unfortunately, menstruation and menopause are topics that most Australian workers find taboo and don’t really want to talk about. Workers who experience menstrual and menopausal symptoms often use up all their sick leave to manage symptoms and have none left for when they are actually sick. One in four workers retire early rather than asking their employers for flexibility to help them manage their symptoms.
FSU members resolved to shine a light on this issue at the FSU’s 2021 Conference. We now include claims for paid menopause and menstrual leave in our EAs. Our members have also secured paid menopause and/or menstrual leave for the first time in agreements at CBUS and Police Bank.
Amazing NO votes in NAB and BOQ. Winning ground-breaking entitlements in flexible work and menstrual and menopause leave. Building incredible communities like the First Nations Committee and the Human Rights Network. There is no doubt that the FSU has a proud record of achievements to make the lives of our members better.
And yet, like many unions, the FSU is facing headwinds. Union membership globally is declining. Work is becoming more fragmented, and workers harder to access. Even with improved industrial relations laws, there are challenges ahead.
To continue to be a union that fights and wins for our members, we need to grow. A strong FSU is a union that is growing its membership. We are bringing our members into our community and giving them opportunities to be activists. We are developing our leaders to drive the work of their FSU community. And together, we are fighting and winning.
This is the FSU we need to be, so how do we get there?
In this session, we will examine our campaign and industrial wins, and how they have impacted on the strength of our union. Do campaigns lead to growth? Are we stronger after winning (or losing) a NO vote? How does a union today grow and build its strength to make sure it is sustainable into the future?
A quick history lesson on Unions in Australia:
Bowden - The Rise and Decline of Australian Unionism - A History of Industrial Labour from 1820s to 2010
Let’s think about the link between our industrial work and our organising:
It’s About Power, Not Policy: Movement Lawyering for Large Scale Social Change
A reflection from a former Union official on his time in the union movement:
Hosted by: The FSU Human Rights Network
Fossil fuels aren’t extracted from the Earth without money. Pipelines aren’t built without money. Destructive industries, like dirty energy, don’t grow without money.
Banks are financing the climate crisis.
Our big four banks poured $47 billion over seven years into fossil fuel industries.
Fossil finance is climate damage, and year after year, banks have ignored the devastating impacts of increasing funding for dirty energy. Banks continue to finance companies across fossil fuel industries with little regard to the consequences on people and the planet.
Communities across Australia and around the globe are facing the devastating effects of climate change – we’ve seen up close the impact of bushfires, droughts and floods. Indigenous people are disproportionately on the front lines of impacts from, and resistance to, both climate change and fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure.
To address the cause of climate change, and protect people from the impacts of this change, we must stop fossil fuels from being extracted and burned and keep our forests intact. This starts with banks.
Hosted by our Human Rights Network, this session will explore the issue of climate change, look at what our banks are funding (despite their net zero talk!) and consider the role that trade unions should play in achieving climate justice for our people, our planet and our economy.
What are global banks funding: Read here
What are our banks doing closer to home:
Tiwi Islanders challenge banks over $1.5 billion loan to Santos
Human Rights Network: Climate Change + Australian Communities.
Watch our recent event: FSU Human Rights Network - Climate change and Australian communities
Plenary and panel discussion
Speakers: Dr Christina J. Colclough (Founder, The Why Not Lab), Julia Powles (Associate Professor, The University of Western Australia Law School) and Gareth Murphy (Head of Industrial Relations and Campaigns, Financial Services Union Ireland)
Let’s shape the digital transformation to build power and win a seat at the table!
COVID-19 has all too clearly shown how digital tools have become an integral part of our work and society. With a switch to remote work across the finance sector, workers are faced with increased surveillance and monitoring as employers try to mitigate the “risks” of remote workers.
But it’s not just those of us who work from home who are impacted by digitisation. The digital transformation affects all of us. And while none of this new, the use of technology is accelerating like never before. The risk for us, is that our employers will use it to accelerate cost-cutting and offshoring through a rapid adoption of new technologies at the expense of workers.
What does this all mean for us? How should finance workers respond?
It’s not the first time that we’ve had to grapple with a rapid introduction of technology. As in the past, we know that an unfettered rapid digital transformation with no worker involvement is unacceptable.
We must be vigilant and demand good governance – that means we need a seat at the table. We must develop and defend our rights. We must demand that we are party to any digital transformation across our workplaces. And we must demand that our government puts the long-term interests of their people above a blind faith of digital technology.
The digital transformation will demand us to step up to this challenge.
In this session, we will consider what may be happening across the finance sector as our employers increasingly collect, use, analyse, store and sell data and datasets.
The question is: what rights do workers, and their union representatives have to this data, and the inferences made on them?
As our work becomes more digitised, we need to start shaping our own digital agenda and start to think about what actions we can take to strengthen workers data rights or where regulation needs to be improved.
We will cover these key themes:
Come ready to shape the digital transformation - there is a huge opportunity to grow workers power and win democratic control over our data.
Reports, articles and podcasts (The Why Not Lab)
The following articles cover topics we will explore at Congress:
Protecting workers rights in digitised workplaces
Negotiating workers’ data rights
For some local context, here is what the FSU said when we heard that CBA was spying on their staff.
CBA criticised for secret surveillance of staff (news.com.au)
Facilitated by: Angela Budai, FSU National Policy Officer
In December 2022, a new positive duty on employers to eliminate workplace sex discrimination and harassment commenced.
The Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Act 2022 (Cth) amended the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), introducing a positive duty on employers and PCBUs to eliminate:
This important change requires employers to shift their focus to actively preventing workplace sex harassment and discrimination, rather than responding only after it occurs. The new positive duty imposes a legal obligation on employers to take proactive and meaningful action to prevent workplace sexual harassment, sex discrimination, sex-based harassment, conduct that amounts to subjecting a person to a hostile workplace environment on the ground of sex and victimisation from occurring in the workplace or in connection to work.
New regulatory powers have been conferred on the Australian Human Rights Commission to investigate and enforce compliance with the positive duty.
This session will consider this new duty to prevent sexual harassment to organise and build power in the finance sector – while at the same time making our workplaces safer.
Undertake the latest Fair Work Commission training (approx. 20 mins)
Review the executive summary of the Time for Respect 2022 Report
Time for Respect 2022 Report (Executive summary)
Read the full Time for Respect 2022 Report (optional)
Facilitated by: Alex Cousner, FSU Bargaining Specialist
Organising for healthy workplaces will explore the crisis of excessive workloads in the finance sector and look to set up practical ways for us to reverse the trend and grow solidarity in our workplaces.
The discussion will involve a definition of stress and the factors that create excessive workloads.
We will then work collaboratively to brainstorm and develop practical steps that we can take to educate, connect and take action to make our workplaces healthy.
Health and safety is union business, and we want to embed the understand not only that the workload crisis needs to be taken seriously but it is our role as workplace leader to develop strategies to permanently improve our places and hold our employers accountable.
This session will consider three key strategies and will address the objections we need to overcome and ways we can connect and get more involved.
How do we confront the “I knew it was stressful when I signed up?”
How do we get workers to focus more on hours and less on pay?
how do we change the “we just have to get it done mentality”
What role can you play in connecting the union to the workers?
What role can you play in connecting workers to one another?
What do you need to start making WHS connections in the workplace?
What prevents people from taking action?
How can we encourage people to take action on WHS issues?
Will you sign up for WHS advocate training?
Psychosocial hazards (Core Body of Knowledge for the Generalist PHS (Professional)
Psychosocial hazards contributing to work-related stress
Watch these short clips:
Managing the risk of psychosocial hazards at work code of practice