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How your union is helping tackle the cost-of-living crisis

United Workers Union members fight every day – for decent wages, for better conditions, for a fairer society. As well as the core union business of organising, bargaining and campaigning for better wages and conditions in our workplaces and industries, here are a few other examples of how your union is working to ease cost-of-living pressures.  

Tax deductible fees

Did you know union membership fees are tax deductible? That means at the end of every financial year, you can claim your union fees as a tax deduction. Union fees are often in the list of most overlooked tax deductions each year, so make sure you include them when you finalise your tax return. 

Why are union fees tax deductible? 

Union membership fees are tax deductible because they are a work-related expense. Union membership contributes to improving your workplace, your rights, higher wages and generally making Australia better and fairer for all. 

Your union membership shares the costs of negotiating higher pay and better working conditions, and union members share the cost of enforcing the agreements that your union makes with employers. All of these are business expenses and that’s part of the reason why your union fees are tax deductible. 

How will I know how much to claim? 

We will email your tax statement at the end of the financial year, by mid-July. You will also be able to find this information by logging into our member portal 

You will then need to add the information under ‘other work-related deductions’ when you complete your tax return. You can claim the full amount you spent on union fees on your tax. 

Winning higher wages

Whether your wages are set by an Award or through bargaining with your workmates, there’s one thing we know for sure – wages don’t increase unless we fight for them.  

Hundreds of UWU members shared stories about how they’re impacted by low wages and the sacrifices they make to survive and support their families. Many of these were included in UWU’s submission to the Fair Work Commission calling for an above-inflation increase to minimum and award wages.  

These actions not only put pressure on decision-makers, but they counteract the tired narrative from employer groups who always say they can’t afford pay increases, often while raking in huge profits.  

And it worked! Today the Fair Work Commission announced a 3.75% increase to minimum and Award wages. With last year’s Award wage increase of 5.75% we’ve had two years in a row of above-inflation increases. And, of course, we will continue to push for real wage increases. 

These annual minimum and Award wage increases are not a forgone conclusion. Just like when we’re bargaining with employers, if we don’t fight for more, we won’t get it. And if your wage increases are won through bargaining, then chances are you know only too well that employers always push back and cry poor.  

If it was up to employers, wages would never increase. That’s why it’s so important that we stand together in our union to fight for what we deserve.

 

Stage three tax cuts

The much-debated stage three tax cuts will come into effect from July 1. Initially, when they were passed by the Morrison Coalition government in 2019, the stage three tax cuts were designed to benefit the top 14% of wage earners in Australia. 

When the Albanese government was elected, with the help of UWU members in 2022, they had planned to keep the tax cuts in place. But we expect better from a Labor government, and we let them know! 

Thanks to pressure from the unions like UWU, the Albanese government was forced to reconsider their policy.

From July 1 UWU members receive more money in our pay packets thanks to the revised tax legislation. Another win for worker power in our country.

2024 fee changes

We recognise the cost-of living crisis has made it tough for workers in Australia, and every effort has been made to keep fee changes as small as possible.

As well as fighting for higher wages in our union, making use of membership benefits like tax deductibility and the various discounts and special offers available to UWU members, not only lessens the impact of a fee change but can make UWU membership cost neutral!

The vast majority of members will see fees move by 50 cents a week.

There will be some higher increases among members paying historically lower fee levels, and some member’s fees will stay the same.

Why do fees need to change?

Every year the union considers our union fees and changes to fees in line with increasing costs. At the 2022 National Delegates Convention, elected delegates were taken through a plan to bring more equity to UWU’s fee structure over a three-year period.

Our amalgamation in 2019 means we are bigger and stronger. We are winning for workers every day.

Another consequence of our amalgamation was over 100 different fee rates across the country. This year’s fee changes completes the first phase of our plan to simplify UWU’s fee structure and means we now have eight fee rates.

uwu community: Meet Rory Albert

Job title:
Dealer and delegate at Crown Casino, Perth
 

Age:
28 years old
 

How long have you been an UWU member?
For about 9 years, joined not long after I started at Crown
 

Favourite union moment?  
When we went on strike in 2019. It was good fun seeing everyone dressed up, getting together and supporting each other. And the sense of things being achieved and strengthened – feeling the strength in numbers and getting to see it in action.  

Best and worst things about your job? 
The worst thing is putting up with abusive customers. And the best thing is the opposite, having really nice interactions with customers and getting to meet a lot of people from diverse backgrounds.  

 

What’s the best advice you’ve been given by another union member/ organiser that you’d like to pass on? 
In Australia we have a drinking culture, when you go to the pub together and everybody buys a round. And the rule is you should never leave before it’s your turn to buy a round. And being a union member is the same! We should all be in the union and supporting each other, not free-loading! 

What do you like doing outside of work? 
I love learning to cook. I’ll go out and eat something then think of it as a challenge to see if I can recreate it at home. I love my sport, especially soccer. I also enjoy playing video games and chess – love my chess! Learning new languages. I speak bits and pieces of lots different ones, but nothing fluently – a bit of Russian, Japanese and my girlfriend has taught me some Chinese.  

Best thing about being an UWU member?  
Feeling like a part of something more. Standing with my colleagues and knowing that together we can affect change in our workplace.

Rain, Hail, Shine, UWU members show up for good secure jobs

Despite the rain, school and government cleaners from across NSW turned out in Parramatta on Saturday 11 May to rally to end the broken, for-profit contracting system under which they’re currently employed.

That system is currently under review by the NSW Government after the Premier Chris Minns made an election promise to look into the outsourcing model.

But in the meantime UWU members are continuing to campaign to help the Government make the right decision, which is to bring these dedicated workers back in-house. 

If you haven’t signed their petition yet, show your support here.

Vic Union members turn their backs on the
Education Minister

At the recent Victorian Labor Conference, school cleaners Innes, Terry, Sofia and Julie were joined by delegates from across the spectrum in protesting the Education Minister Ben Carroll’s speech.

When the Minister, who also serves as Deputy Premier, took to the stage. Delegates turned their back and shouted “shame on you”, making Mr Carroll visibly upset.

Victorian School cleaners have been campaigning for many years to end the failed privatisation of their jobs.

The Victorian Labor Government can still turn things around for school cleaners across the State by bringing the dedicated workers back into the public system because they deserve better. You can show your support for these workers by signing this petition.

Victorian Labor State Conference: Igniting Change

UWU was proud to be the only Union to have rank and file members front and centre throughout the Victorian Labor Conference – a platform to address critical issues that require action from both the State and Federal Governments. 

School cleaners took centre stage as Minister for Education Ben Carroll’s decision to maintain the flawed contracting system was met with protest on the conference floor. The UWU delegation turned their back on Carroll when he got up to speak because he had turned his back on UWU members. This had a powerful impact on the Minister and the Government. United Workers Union will always hold politicians to account and will take escalating action until they do the right thing.

UWU school cleaners Julie and Sofia addressed the Conference to demand, once again, direct employment. Their motion stated it’s “reprehensible that this Victorian Labor Government has stood by and allowed the companies that they pay to clean our schools (to) cut the hours and pay of workers.” There was overwhelming support from the conference floor.

Now is the Government’s chance to turn things around by bringing the workers back into the public system.

Throughout the conference many UWU campaigns and resolutions were put forward by members across industries, these included: 

  • Early education members Jane and Afsheen welcomed the Federal Budget’s commitment to fund educators’ wages. They called for the Government to give timelines and ensure the pay rise is 25%. They called on the state government to deliver on its commitment to build 50 government run early learning centres.
  • The Safeguard security campaign motion was moved by members Vince and Mo and pushed for job security and union rights, while other motions addressed issues ranging from airport security wages to paramedic conditions and gender pay equity at Ambulance Victoria.
  • Casino members Ben and Mitch advocated for the workforce and Ari successfully moved a Rules amendment to add fighting transphobia to Victorian Labor’s Values Statement. 
  • UWU supported progressive policies on WorkCover, domestic and family violence, housing, and Palestine, reflecting our Union’s commitment to social justice and international solidarity.

If you would like to get more involved in politics, click here to let us know.