Sarah Missen Profile picture
Aug 22 11 tweets 4 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Last week, the Building Industry Group (Victorian branches of the ETU, CFMEU, AMWU Metalworkers & Plumbers) put out a statement regarding native bird hunting, and potential industrial action. I have some thoughts. #ausunions

The framework around the discussion of "suicide shifts" is alarming. The industrial action isn't about dangerous & strenuous rosters. It is about the "right" of these workers to go hunting in order to relax after these "suicide shifts". #ausunions
In an OHS framework, eliminating "suicide shifts" would be the most effective. Ensuring access to duck hunting isn't on the hierachy of controls. This is like bosses telling stressed out workers to practice mindfulness rather than addressing the issues at work. #ausunions Image
According to Mates in Construction, 190 construction workers die by suicide in Australia each year. Construction workers are 6x more likely to die from suicide than an accident at work. Promoting relaxing with firearms, & terminology like "suicide shifts" are both concerning.
Why are unions willing to put so much time, effort and resourcing into this campaign? With so many OHS issues; a cost of living crisis; a housing crisis; a climate emergency... why is this the big issue? And is it even an issue for the majority of union members? #ausunions
The statement notes that the Building Industry Group represents 85,000 workers. The Game Management Authority estimated that in 2022 only 11,549 people went duck hunting. If each of these people were union members (seems unlikely!), that would only be 13.59% of the membership. Image
The BIG statement was released after a Herald Sun article cited a draft report from the Inquiry into Victoria’s Recreational Native Bird Hunting Arrangements. The draft recommended a total ban on duck hunting in 2024. (Article behind paywall). #ausunions…
In the Inquiry hearing on 29/6, Troy Gray (ETU) conceded that members hadn't been surveyed, but after the walkoff they had "400 points of contact". Earlier in the hearing Gray cites ETU m'ship at 20,000. Feedback from 2% of members is not "membership is more than 90% behind it". Image
Looking at Facebook for a timeline of events, the first meeting of the ETU formed "Outdoor Recreation Advocacy Group" was on the evening of 28 March and the walk-off occurred a matter of days later on 31 March which is a pretty fast turnaround! 👀
I do think unions should be able to take industrial action to further political agendas and for social issues. But this seems like such a minority issue in a cluttered political landscape that is full of IMPORTANT issues unions should be funnelling resources into. #ausunions
The elephant in the room is where union policy, strategy & tactics come from. The political capital & resources that go into campaigns should be for issues that affect and are important to a majority of members and advance the interests of the working class as a whole. #ausunions

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