IT unionists move online both sides of Tasman

Unions on both sides of the Tasman are turning to new technology to recruit IT workers.

Unions on both sides of the Tasman are turning to new technology to recruit IT workers.

The Labour Council of New South Wales created a “virtual” online union this month, the IT Workers Alliance, specifically aimed at IT workers, addressing issues such as health and safety, long working hours and unfair contracts.

In New Zealand, Finsec has rebranded itself as the “banking and information services union”, launching something similar at its website, which now includes a regular newsletter for IT workers.

Paul Goulter, secretary of the Confederation of Trades Unions and former Finsec general secretary, says the web offers unions new opportunities to reach workers. Goulter says most unions now have websites allowing people to enrol online or at least start the process. The CTU’s own website is being made “more worker friendly” and it allows different types of workers to find the union for their job. A CTU conference last week also resolved to use IT methods to try to attract membership from younger workers.

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union is planning a revamp of its website, which it currently describes as “mickey mouse”. Spokeswoman Adelia Hallett says the site is being scoped with the union planning online recruitment, online meetings, a members-only intranet, email messaging, a “global labour university’” and other services, which it hopes to introduce during next year.

“The economy is global, most of the owners are global, so labour has to be global. The internet allows us to do it,” says Hallett.

Peter Lewis, spokesman for the Labour Council of New South Wales, says the IT Workers Alliance (ITWA) aims to make unions attractive to IT workers.

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