Eleven unions in NSW, representing close to 300,000 workers, have formed a Unions for Marriage Equality campaign, which may soon be joined by unions in other states.
Australian Services Union (ASU) NSW and ACT branch secretary Sally McManus (pictured) told the Star Observer the campaign was about spreading the message that most unions supported marriage equality in the lead-up to the ALP National Conference in December.
“We’ve come together because we believe the right of people to marry who they love is a human right and something we believe,” McManus said.
“Unions always fight to end discrimination against their members and every union has gay and lesbian members so we believe it’s our obligation to stand up for them, and this is an obvious area where discrimination is happening.”
Unions for Marriage Equality are using a series of posters telling stories of three union members affected by the ban on same-sex marriage.
IN PICS: Unions for marriage equality launch
One poster features a Teachers Federation member whose gay son is a member of the Public Service Association who believes he should have the same right to marry as his mother.
Another features an ASU member and his union delegate Warrick, who is gay. The poster reads, “Warwick is a union delegate at work — he fights for us, now I’m going to fight for his right to marry who he chooses”.
A third poster features union members Eamon and Mary. Eamon says Mary and his other mother have been together for 20 years and should enjoy the right to marry.
“We’ll use those posters in workplaces to raise awareness but also to build support for marriage equality,” McManus said.
“Not all the unions are affiliated to the ALP but most of them are and we’re coming out very clearly and saying this is where we stand and this is the way we will vote when it comes to the ALP conference.”
McManus said she would encourage union members whose union had not made a decision on the issue to help get the ball rolling.
“Unions are democratic organisations. If your union hasn’t made a decision on this, it’s there to be made,” she said. “Go to your local union meetings. Contact your union to ask what their view is. Propose a resolution in support of it.”
Other unions in the campaign include the NSW branches of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the CFMEU’s construction division, the Fire Brigade Employees Union, the Maritime Union of Australia, the Teachers Federation, Finance Sector Union, Independent Education Union, Nurses Association, National Tertiary Education Industry Union and United Voice.