I QUICKLY learned that after retirement there is a whole new world for a committed trade unionist and there is much for us to do.
It is not hard to feel concern for our old work colleagues or for the next generation of workers confronted everyday by the outrageous excesses of the Abbott Government.
Retirement has also made me look at all the other hard earned rights and privileges that the union movement has won for our society.
I am thinking of superannuation, the aged pension, Medicare: all of which provide me and other retirees with a comfortable retirement.
The last thing that I want is for Australia to turn into a mirror image of the United States.
The thought sickens me that Australia might have no public education, no Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, no workers’ compensation, no maternity leave, and no social safety nets!
In retirement, many of us are sufficiently well enough to get out there and protest in the streets, to write letters to our local member (including members of this rancid government), to write submissions to inquiries and to let it be known that we too will be working to change any government who treats its citizens with such contempt!!
This vintage gets better with age
When I retired from the AMWU, there was nowhere for me to go to maintain my activism and I quickly found out that none of the unions in Canberra had a retired members group or branch.
From this, the Vintage Reds were formed.
They are not a Canberra house brick (local joke), nor are they a decent old bottle of red wine; they are the Retired Progressive Trade Union Activists of the Canberra Region
The group humorously call themselves the “Vintage Reds”, but they do have a number of very serious union based activities that they wish to pursue.
• Publicly promoting and supporting trade unionism with street rallies and attending specific union rallies. This is even more important under the recently elected Abbott Government.
• Promoting the interests of trade unionism and of retired unionists, particularly in regards to Government policies and practices.
• Providing forums for political discussion and camaraderie through social activities such as lunches, guest speaker discussions, cinema screenings, and attending labour history events.
The majority of our members are from the old ADSTE (Association of Draughting Supervisory & Technical Employees), who amalgamated with the AMWU. We also have a significant number of members from the CPSU/PSU because it is a public service town.
Other unions include the AEU, Nurses, MEAA, Plumbers, CFMEU, NTEU and APESMA (now Professionals Australia).
The MUA and the AMWU, among others, run active retired unionists groups, but to my knowledge, this is the only group of retired unionists in Australia who are organised on a regional rather than vocational basis.
On retirement, we have left our industry or calling behind so the region matters more. If we are passionate unionists we are usually passionate political activists in our communities — in our case, the Vintage Reds are focused on the Federal seats of Fraser, Canberra and Eden-Monaro.
[caption id=”attachment_24430" align=”aligncenter” width=”640"]
Some of the Vintage Reds group of Canberra.[/caption]
Our group, which recently celebrated its first birthday and was officially launched by ACTU President Ged Kearney in February, meets on the third Tuesday of the month at the Dickson Tradies’ Club at 11am. For further information email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (02) 6249 8657.
We are affiliated with Unions ACT, and reluctantly collect a dollar off our members at each meeting for petty cash.
All of our resources have been donated by unions. The CFMEU pays our room hire and they provided us with shirts; the AEU has provided us with our website; the CPSU/PSU provided us with our large banner; the Nurses provided 2 pull-up banners; our brochure is being laid out and printed by the NTEU; petty cash pays for the cake.
Retired unionists can also get involved through recently established Australian Unions Retired Unionists Network.
I think there can be some natural clusterings in the large cities Sydney or Melbourne for Retired Unionists and based on groups of federal seats. Who knows: perhaps one day there will be a Vintage Reds group in every capital city.
So I say to all retired union activists “maintain your rage — especially in retirement”!
Are you a member of, or do you know of, a retired unionists group? Let us know and we will spread the word for you.