Tim Ayres: Response to Questions

I grew up in Glen Innes in country NSW. I went to my local high school and then studied industrial relations at university in Sydney. After university I moved to the Riverina to work as an organiser for the AMWU. I am proud to have worked hard for that union for 21 years and proud to have led my union, as NSW Secretary, for 7 years.

In this time I learned how to be a tough, ethical negotiator and how to bring people together to work for better jobs and stronger communities. Most importantly, I learned about courage and commitment from thousands of union delegates I have met and worked with across NSW.

I have also worked on and led political, industrial and social justice campaigns across the union movement. I am known for my strong advocacy for progressive ideas and change. This is underpinned by my commitment to social and economic equality, for all people. You can see this in my union work, in my work in the ALP and also in the broader community. In particular, I have been working to strengthen the ALP’s policy on economic inequality and jobs – this is critical to building stronger governments which act in the interests of Australian people (you can see an example here)

Strong feminist women in my family, community and work have had a critical impact upon my life and commitment to equality and women’s rights.

I live with my partner and our two school-aged children in Sydney.

I am seeking your support to be elected to the Australian Senate to bring a strong progressive voice to the federal Labor caucus and to our national parliament.

Set out how you believe your personal values align with those of the ASU (see attached ASU Proud document). Your answer should include examples of where you have taken action in support of these values.

I read “ASU Proud” before I prepared this candidate statement – it speaks to the same values and principles that have driven my determination to lead the AMWU as a strong, progressive and militant union.

Like ASU members, manufacturing workers need a union that is capable of confronting the tough issues that they face in their work. AMWU members work in industries that face tough international competition, and they need a tough democratic union to fight for decent, safe jobs.

Like the ASU, the AMWU is member-run. Making sure that members lead the union’s campaigns means having a strong delegate network, and our 1000 NSW delegates lead the AMWU’s campaigns for jobs and fair wages. Like the ASU, I am proud of our commitment to supporting our delegates and members at work while making sure that the AMWU is there for them when they need a strong voice and when they need advice and support.

Every worker should have the right to join and participate in a strong and democratic union – and Australia would be a better place with stronger, growing unions in every workplace. However as our workplace laws have become more unfair, Australia has become a more unequal country. We are more unequal than at any time in the last seventy years.

That’s why I am committed to changing the industrial relations rules to make it easier for Australian workers to join their union and work together to build better jobs.

Set out how, if elected, you would support ASU members and ASU campaigns. Please provide examples of where you have done this if relevant.

I have had a close relationship with the ASU NSW in my work as a union organiser (particularly working with ASU Airlines delegates and officials in Qantas) and in my time as a leader of the AMWU. The AMWU and the ASU have similar values and an identical commitment to progressive values and campaigns that support our members and a more equal, democratic Australia. I have worked with ASU leaders on industrial and collective bargaining campaigns, campaigns against privatisation and for social justice.

Together with a number of progressive unions, the ASU and AMWU have been active making the progressive case at Unions NSW, the ACTU and within the Labor Party for stronger action against domestic violence, to win marriage equality and for fairer treatment of refugees who arrive in Australia.

Most recently the AMWU under my leadership has actively supported the “No Profit From Rape” campaign to stop the Turnbull government privatising the 1800 RESPECT help and advice line. Mass meetings of AMWU members and delegates have discussed the issue and signed up to the campaign.

Do you support the ASU’s We Won’t Wait campaign for a minimum 10 days paid domestic violence leave for all workers? What have you done to support this campaign?

I support this campaign in the strongest terms. I am passionate about this because I understand how pervasive and harmful violence against women is. I know this from my work with unions like the ASU and also because I have had friends and colleagues who have been victims of domestic and family violence.

The AMWU signed up immediately to support the campaign. Violence follows many women to work and undermines work connections and independence. Women fleeing violence need economic security because it is critical to being empowered to make independent decisions.

Under my leadership the AMWU incorporated the demand for this condition in all collective bargaining. In 2017 this will include 150 private sector employers in NSW. Many have already signed up, including the landmark NORCO Lismore agreement that I announced in 2016 with representatives of the ASU and AMIEU.

I was disappointed by the recent Fair Work Commission Full Bench decision which stopped short of delivering this entitlement. We cannot accept this is the end of the matter. If I am elected I will be a strong voice in the Labor caucus to include this right in the National Employment Standards.

What are your views on privatisation of government utilities (e.g. Sydney Water) or privatisation of public transport? What commitments can you give to oppose any such proposals in parliament, within the ALP or elsewhere?

I am opposed to privatisation. The AMWU under my leadership has been committed to the public ownership of key utilities including Sydney Water. The AMWU, ASU and RTBU are fighting now to stop the State Government privatising Sydney Buses. We went on strike together and we will win this campaign by working together to force the government to reverse this terrible decision.

I support extending public investment into areas of the economy that deliver equity, social and environmental outcomes – for example into renewable energy generation to speed up Australia’s transition to a low carbon economy and a stronger commitment to action against climate change.

I am committed to a strong role for government to support equality, deliver services and improve the lives of all Australians. This can’t be achieved by diminishing public services and allowing big corporations to make profits from privatising our public sector.

What is your view of the role of non-government community and disability organisations, and how they could be better supported? What would you do to advocate your views?

Community-run facilities deliver critical services and they advocate for some of the most powerless and disadvantaged in our society. The women’s refuge movement and other important social and community services should supported by government, but independent and free to advocate for their sector, members and clients. Workers in this sector need a strong voice too.

I am worried that in the transition to the NDIS that the voice of disability sector workers and their needs for sustainable and dignified jobs will be lost in the rush to build the system. Additionally I am concerned that the NDIS needs adequate and secure funding if we are going to give the disabled and their carers a better standard of life.

The ASU is the strongest advocate for members and the sector in the community and to government. I have enjoyed supporting ASU campaigns for Equal Pay and decent jobs in the sector and I look forward to fighting for your sector and the rights of ASU members in the Australian Parliament. I won’t change if I am elected – I am committed to always being accessible to ASU advocates and leaders, making sure that your voice is heard in the Parliament and providing smart and strategic support for your campaigns for members and for social justice.