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CPSU Organising Works Class of 2013

LAST night our Organising Works Trainees, Ruby Thomas-Thompson, Rosemary Stuart and Nick Duncombe, graduated with Certificate 4 in Unionism and Industrial Relations.

The ACTU course has involved both on the job training and course work over 2013.

If you’ve met Nick, Ruby or Rosemary in your workplace you’ll know how passionate they are about helping CPSU Members. We’re pleased to say they are all staying on with your union as Organisers too!

Congratulations to them for their hard work on the job and at the training course.

Ruby made a five minute speech on behalf of the whole Tasmanian Organising Works delegation.

We caught up with Ruby, Rosemary and Nick before they graduated:


We’ve been going to class once a month and we’ve all learned a lot. It’s great to go to training and recharge with people who are also passionate about organising. Even though we work in a big team we’re kind of isolated from each other because we’ve got our own patches. I got a lot out of the planning part of the course,   and it was good to set in concrete what I already knew and find a few new things I could  use.

We did a course called history and values where we had to pick a specific union campaign and do a presentation on that. It was interesting to  look at how people have fought over time for conditions and entitlements and how they can slowly drop away. It really highlighted the fact you can never stop fighting to improve people’s rights.

I looked into the Equal Pay Campaign, which has been run a few times in the last 100 years by unions and activists. I focused on the ASU’s recent campaign, which ran over a few years and I was partly involved with too,  that was driven in the commission by the fact that women are underpaid compared to men. It was for the community sector, which is predominately a female-based workforce. The issue’s not going to disappear. Often people think women do have equal rights and equal pay, but where it’s most obviously an issue is in entry level jobswhere women start on a lower rate of pay.

Juggling the course work and the on-the-job work was okay, after a while you got used to the pattern and just allocating a couple of hours here and there to do the work.

It’s been great to have other CPSU Organisers on the course because you can help each other . The group’s become really close, even Organisers from other unions. It’s been great having that network.

Residential was a few months ago and included the Org Works 2013 class from all around Australia, there were about 50 of us. It was a really good week, we learned a lot. That was all based around campaigning  and was really useful. It was a great way to learn about group dynamics as well. Even though you might not be best friends with someone across the table, you can still work together and achieve a really positive outcome. I’ve found some parts useful, such as where it’s helpful to use certain media when you’re campaigning around an issue.

Graduating will be fantastic. It’s the first time Tassie’s been involved in Organising Works, which I’m really proud of. I’m staying on with the CPSU and I’m looking forward to being able to take on a bit more work now the course is over.

It’s been a good year; it’s really great to have the qualification now.



Since Residential I’ve been doing a lot of work predominantly in the areas that I look after, as well as course work.

The course has been great but busy. We’ve looked at a range of topics, it varies month to month. It could be anything from work, health and safety to diversity in the workplace. They brought in guest speakers, such as experts in the field from interstate, which was really good.

The highlight from the course work was probably learning about diversity. We had a gentleman, Damien Ryan, who talked to us about work and life in a wheel chair.  I managed to sign him up as Member after! I found his story pretty inspirational and it was the highlight of the course for me.

The course work definitely helped my work in the office, I can really apply it in the workplace and it’s reenergised me.

I was terribly lucky to do the course with other CPSU staff Members. It was quite a diverse team and I’ve made some really good friends that I’ll be staying in touch with.

In the Tassie group we had people like us from the Public Sector, plus the education union, building unions and the ASU. I learned a lot from their perspectives on things.

I’ve been lucky enough to be offered a permanent position here, which I jumped at because I love the CPSU. I thoroughly enjoy the chance to work with our Members.

As an Organiser I really love the people I get to meet. Looking after portfolios like the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Community Corrections, Forestry, Parks and Wildlife to Health, it’s quite diverse and the people who work in these areas area quite different. I’ve met some amazing people who do extraordinary things in the workplace and it’s been a privilege to get to know them and work with them.

The value of being a union member is belonging to a collective who wants the same thing – who wants your rights at work to be continually improved and to see that you’re looked after. It’s about making sure your work life, as much as possible, is happy with decent conditions.

My work this year has absolutely reinforced the importance of this. Some of the issues I’ve seen in workplaces has astounded and upset me – good people having their rights and conditions violated and dreading going to work. It’s touched me. To be able to go home at night knowing I’ve done something to make their lives better has really made me love this job.

Graduating was an honour and it was also a chance to catch up with people from around Australia I met at residential. It’s definitely been worth it, every second of it.



Over the course of the year I’ve built some really good relationships with my Delegates. Everyone’s really friendly on the North West, where I’m based.

I liked how other unions were involved in Organising Works.That was great for networking. We’ve got lifelong friendships now, and it’s also great for bouncing ideas off each other.

I found the training part of the course was very helpful when you were doing the organising on the job. Something would pop up in a workplace such as an issue that needed planning around and I’d wonder what to do about it, but then it would be up in the next course.

Training was also a chance to debrief with the other Organisers, and  other CPSU staff who were there  were really supportive.

A lot of the projects were about organising and developing workplace leaders, so they were really practical. One was about planning for a specific worksite, which meant looking to build up membership and allocate tasks such as putting up information boards, and also recruiting and then developing Delegates to get their confidence up.

The communications course was also great, where we looked at writing bulletins and letters to employers.

Between work, study and being a single mum, Organising Works was pretty full on.

At graduation we’ll be meeting up with everyone we met at our residential, which will be nice. We’re the first Tassie team to graduate, which is pretty special.

The ACTU’s Jayne Reid was really supportive and  Nicole Wells was a great mentor.

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