This is such a huge topic and I don’t pretend that a single blog post can do it justice. But I hope it will be enough for you to see where I'm coming from.
We live in an age where the prevailing myth of individualism, blared at high volume from every news, entertainment & political source, has obscured how much of our wellbeing *as individuals*, and also as a community, depends on remaining engaged with one another in solidarity.
So much of the quality of life we wish for all people around the world depends upon our right to stay organised together, to commit to greater protection & wellbeing for each other, and to extend those essential rights across a global context where millions are exploited by unbridled capitalism.
This is not an abstract philosophical or economic point — it’s about whether we’re required to work while injured, or sick, under threat of the sack. Or whether we’re entitled to earn enough to live with dignity, to know our hours of work so we can have a life connected to family, friends and community. Or whether we have recourse when faced with abuse in our workplaces.
And there are so many people, especially where I live, who under the siren myth of individualism, have eschewed those rights. Now they are trying to scratch out a living with worn-out backs, fading hearing, injured hands — all caused by the hard working conditions of their lives, but for which many wouldn’t wish to look to each other for organisation and assistance.
So many of us now live and work under the belief that ‘you’re on your own’ is a properly robust and appropriate framework to conduct our lives. Yet beneath the superficially appealing myth of the “free” individual lurk so many structurally unfair and unequal forces that mean the individual, alone, will lose far more often than they win.
It’s tempting — but quite wrong — to believe that the laws under which we work in a developed country like Australia are sufficient to deliver us fairness and justice in our working lives. Not when those laws are written by the very same people who hold the employment keys and would love to boost their profit margins by cutting back our own rights and conditions.
When the NSW government removed journeys to-and-from work from Workers’ Compensation conditions, it hit the regions the hardest. Around here, there are people whose work journeys can be 50-100km across risky roads, dodging kangaroos and, at this time of year, black ice.
A democratic, member-managed Union can do so much to protect not only its own members, but also to develop our understanding that other struggles around the world are also our struggle. That we *can* indeed change the world, together — crucially together — not alone.
That’s why I’m proud to be Union. I’m proud to have worked in my union as a relieving Organiser, state Councillor, local branch President & Secretary.
The focus of the NSW Teachers’ Federation is to bring social justice to NSW in the form of public education and TAFE, and I am proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my colleagues and comrades, in solidarity.