Union organising has always been about the groundwork. The classic organising model is based on fronting up to worksites and engaging with members face-to-face. The HSU prides itself on maintaining a strong presence in the workplace – that’s how members know they’re supported and management knows to think twice before ripping off workers. Whether it’s big public hospital or a regional aged care facility, the HSU is there.
This model has served us well, but when the Delta outbreak hit Australia and NSW was subject to its harshest restrictions yet, organisers found they could no longer attend worksites. Workers were more vulnerable than ever before. Sitting and waiting for restrictions to ease simply wasn’t an option, so the HSU adapted. Technology has been integral to the HSU’s organising since the June outbreak. The Union has turned to online virtual meetings via Zoom in order to connect with members. Over 100 zoom meetings have been held during lockdown, beginning with specific meetings for every LHD in NSW. The attendance was overwhelming. While these zoom meetings were born of necessity, it’s clear they are fulfilling a need. Geographical isolation is no longer a crippling. This has been particularly important within Allied Health, where professionals spread throughout the state have been able to come together to share ideas and experiences via remote meetings. It’s a great new way to ensure that issues specific to these members are being dealt with.
Without a doubt, the biggest mark that the HSU has made in the digital organising space is the HSU COVID Vaccination Forum that was held on the 17th of August. With an attendance list of nearly 500 participants, the HSU conducted a webinar with a board of 6 medical, social and industrial experts, to answer commonly held questions and concerns around COVID vaccines. Members and non-members across the country attended and the expert panel even featured an international epidemiologist. This forum was a massive success, with participants who said at the outset they were highly hesitant about the vaccine down by an incredible 27% by the forum’s conclusion. We may have spent the last 5 months in lockdown, but thanks to innovation and the versatility of HSU members, we are more connected than ever. We’ve been hit with restrictions, attacks on wages, and a public health crisis. Not once did we falter. Not once did we give in. The HSU and its members are the definition of Success Through Adversity. Thankfully, the HSU is back on site. But as we make the rounds of facilities, we do so confident in the knowledge that we are a modern union with modern organising strategies.
We’ve lost a lot to COVID over the last 18 months, but we’ve gained something infinitely more valuable – a reminder of the resilience of HSU members. The Union is in each of you. And wherever there is Union, there is strength. Check out the HSU’s Zoom Meetings page at: