Supportah has announced that it is ending its association with Red Unions after more than four years working together.
Litigation Director Miles Heffernan said he wants his workplace advocacy firm to focus its energies on its own clients.
“We have enjoyed working with Red Unions over the past four years. We are proud to have helped thousands of their members resolve a range of workplace disputes,” Mr Heffernan said.
The Queensland-based Red Unions is a collection of employee associations offering workers an alternative to traditional union membership.
They include the Nurses Professional Association of Queensland, the Teachers Professional Association of Australia and the Professional Drivers Association of Australia.
Since September, membership to the various Red Unions has exploded from 5,000 to almost 20,000 paying members.
During this time, Supportah’s team of employment lawyers and advocates took on 2,350 matters on behalf of their members.
“We are proud to have worked with Red Unions during this exciting and challenging time,” Mr Heffernan said.
“However, the workplace matters we were dealing with had an increasingly narrow focus to the point where they had all become about a singular issue.
“As a result, I felt it was time for Supportah to return to dealing with the wider-range of industrial matters that confront Australian workers.”
Transition for existing clients
Supportah and Red Unions will cease their association on 30 June 2022.
Mr Heffernan has assured members with on-going workplace matters that there will be a seamless transition.
“We have organised an orderly transition so that these members’ interests will be protected directly by the various Red Unions and their new representatives,” he said.
Competition is a good thing
Mr Heffernan said the role of collective action has never been more important, especially from non-registered trade unions.
“What the various unions under Red Unions’ umbrella brand have shown is that a collectivised workforce is a powerful workforce. Now is not the time to go back to the tired monopolies held by the existing traditional unions,” he said.
“There can be no finer example of this than the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union. It has given retail and fast food workers an additional voice which has not only protected them, but has also made the existing SDA a better, fiercer union.
“Competition is a good thing – when there is competition, we all win.”
Affordable access to justice
Mr Heffernan thanked his staff for filing the 2,350 matters in various courts and commissions during the busy September period.
“I was immensely proud to watch some of the best employment lawyers and advocates mobilise, and it was not without its toll. In fact, this weighed very heavily in the decision to go our separate ways,” he said.
Mr Heffernan also thanked his team of barristers, Jim Murdoch QC, the Hon Joe Ludwig and Troy Spence.
“These professionals with impressive pedigrees in the traditional labour movement leant their incredible intellect and life experience to fight for the rights for every worker to collectivise – a fundamental human right of freedom of association – despite the personal toll it took,” he said.
“Finally, I would like to thank everyone at Red Unions, and wish them every success in the future. I’m now looking forward to Supportah continuing to do what it does best – delivering affordable access to justice for Australian workers.”
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