"The National Secretary acts as the Chief Executive of the AWU with the Branch Secretaries acting as the General Managers of each Branch.
They appoint staff, manage the finances of the union and ensure the union continues to stand up for AWU members by putting our members first."
Here's Bill's announcement about the day he stopped being Chief Executive responsible for the activities of the AWU - link to the archive is here. Up until 26 November 2007 it's Bill's baby.
Bill Shorten farewells AWU members
Monday, 26 November 2007
Bill Shorten - one of the AWU's greatest leaders - has sent a message to our union's 130,000 members, thanking them for the extraordinary support and opportunities he has had over last 14 years in what he describes as as challenging and memorable chapter of his working life.
|Bill Shorten, former AWU National Secretary
To all members of the Australian Workers' Union.
On Monday I formally resigned as National Secretary of the Australian Workers' Union, ending what has been the most enjoyable, challenging and memorable chapter of my working life thus far.
The Australian Workers' Union has been my life for the last fourteen years - a life made better by meeting so many of you. Working with and for our members has been a privilege.
I am honoured to have been elected to Parliament, and honoured to be able to be part of a Rudd Labor Government. I assure you that I will be taking the lessons I have learned from you with me and will always stand up for the rights of ordinary Australians to live decent, happy lives.
The 1990s, when I joined the AWU, was a period of division and turmoil within our Union. I am proud that, under my leadership, the bitter infighting ceased and unity was restored. With unity came strength, and I was able to guide the AWU to a strong financial and membership position.
The health of our finances enabled me to recruit new and talented officials, and together we have won major conditions and wages improvements for our members. At the same time, we encouraged greater training for our delegates, and I believe this has played a big role in creating safer and fairer workplaces.
For the last eleven years, we have faced the antagonistic and hostile Howard Government, and I am very proud that our great union maintained the discipline, momentum and desire which finally saw John Howard and his government soundly defeated.
These achievements would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of our legendary President, Bill Ludwig and all the Branch Secretaries. I would like to single out for thanks Cesar Melhem and the Victorian Branch for their loyalty and backing over the years.
Paul Howes has now been elected National Secretary, and he has my full support as he takes the AWU forward into a new era. I know the union is in safe hands.
Finally, I hope you are as proud of our great union as I am and always will be. Throughout our 121 year history, we have struggled and overcome obstacles that have destroyed weaker unions. Droughts, amalgamations, wars and draconian governments - the AWU has seen them all off, and that is due to the loyalty and strength of character of you, our members.
The Australian Workers' Union
Ph: (02) 9264 5911
Fax: (02) 9264 5017
And here's the announcement of Bill's replacement, Paul Howes - archived here.
New national AWU leader calls for co-operative renewal of Australian "fair go "
27 November 2007
Australia's oldest and biggest blue-collar union has voted for generational change with Paul Howes, 26, elected as National Secretary after his predecessor, Bill Shorten, was elected on the weekend as part of the Rudd Labor Government.
" We want to build co-operative relationships with all sections of Australian society; a co-operative relationship to rebuild our fair-go traditions, traditions at the core of the 121 year old AWU's very history," Paul Howes said after being elected to lead the Australian Workers Union (AWU).
" I can assure you that the AWU, under my leadership, will work hard to build co-operative relationships with Rudd Labor and the business community.
What ABC radio told listeners about Paul Howes
New AWU secretary in manufacturing call
Heads up biggest union with deep roots in Australian history and culture
Paul Howes - who has worked for more than a decade in the union movement - said today it was an extraordinary honour to lead the 135,000 member AWU, a union with deep roots in Australia's soil, its history and culture.
Mr Howes told the AWU national executive that union members can rejoice at the result of the weekend election.
" The election result underlines the Australian national view that an era of divisiveness must now come to an end. The real views and interests of Australian working people and their unions should never again be swept aside and ignored by governments and business," Paul Howes said.
" The Federal election was a victory for the thousands of working people who campaigned for workplace decency, and against divisiveness.
Listen to all voices and govern for all Australians
" They want government in Canberra to balance their views alongside those of the business community, and other voices in our democratic civic society
" We agree with Kevin Rudd that he should govern for all Australians - not just one section of Australia. This is a view we will take to the ACTU Executive when it meets next week."
AWU indebted to Bill Shorten
Mr Howes thanked his predecessor Bill Shorten who played a remarkable role in reviving the fortunes of the AWU during his term as National Secretary...giving AWU members a national voice during the Beaconsfield mine crisis.
" Bill Shorten will forever be remembered in our proud history as a union leader who returned our union to the centre stage of Australian life. He revived our union's fortunes, and helped it to grow in a tough era. The AWU is indebted to Bill Shorten.
" I am sure Bill will be an important voice in Canberra for all Australian working people. Our union looks forward to working closely with him, and the many other Labor MPs who are proud to be associated with the AWU tradition," Paul Howes said.
Focus on rights of working people gives opportunity to build better Australian workplaces
" While we rejoice this week the AWU cannot afford to rest now the Rudd Labor government has been elected," Paul Howes told his national executive.
" There has never been a period in our recent history where the focus has been so firmly on the rights of Australian working people. The election spotlight was definitely on this one core issue - the right to decency in the workplace.
" This victory shows Australians expect governments - of all political hues - to respect the role of unions and their members in the workplace," Paul Howes said.
" The AWU now has an opportunity to build action campaigns which show the Australian people how, together, we can build a better society by, most importantly, involving more of our members in our workplace and community activity,' the new AWU National Secretary said.
The Australian Workers' Union
Ph: (02) 9264 5911
Fax: (02) 9264 5017
Finally here is the AWU's own description of the roles and responsibilities of its officers and its internal management structure - this is taken from an archived copy of the AWU's website here
The Australian Workers' Union is a democratic organisation with rules that are registered with the australian Industrial Relations Commission.
The AWU is made up of over 135,000 working Australians who elect the officials of the AWU.
All members of the AWU are part of the 12 geographic and industry based Branches which make constitute the AWU.
Every four years AWU members elect the officials of the Branches and the officials of the AWU Nationally - this includes the Branch Secretary, the Branch President, the Branch Assistant Secretary, Organisers and other positions.
The same happens nationally with all 135,000 members electing the National Secretary, National Assistant Secretary and National President every four years.
Also elected at the same time is the National Executive and the Branch Executives which act as the Board of Directors for the union.
All of the actions of the AWU's elected officials are guided by the Rules of the AWU which are registered under the Workplace Relations Act in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.
The National Secretary acts as the Chief Executive of the AWU with the Branch Secretaries acting as the General Managers of each Branch.
They appoint staff, manage the finances of the union and ensure the union continues to stand up for AWU members by putting our members first.
The AWU is affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the International Metalworkers Federation, the International Union of Foodworkers and the International Transport Workers Federation.
The AWU is affiliated to the Australian Labor Party and many branches of the AWU are affiliated with their state Trades & Labor Council.
Here's the happy 2007 family.