National Union of Workers

The National Union of Workers (NUW) is a democratic and active union and our key values are social justice, equality, respect and empowering workers.

The NUW was formed in 1989 when six unions came together to form a new stronger Union. The six unions are:

  • Federated Storeman and Packers Union Est. 1912
  • Federated Rubber and Allied Workers Union Est. 1908
  • Federated Cold Storage and Meat Preserved Employees’ Union Est. 1908
  • Federated Millers and Manufacturing Grocers Union Est. 1909
  • Commonwealth Foreman’s Association Est. 1912
  • United Sales Representatives and Commercial Travellers Guild Est. 1888

These unions have proud histories of fighting for workers. For example, the Federated Storeman and Packers Union’s campaign of direct action during the 1970s and 1980s was integral to establishing the system of universal superannuation all workers enjoy today.

The NUW is currently leading the fight to organise thousands of low-paid workers in logistics and warehousing, factories, food and plastics manufacturing, market & social research, call centres and much more. The NUW has a strong record of taking smart collective action for the benefit of all our members.

Sakata workers made more than rice crackers – they made a new collective agreement

For years Sakata Rice crackers had been a non-union site with a mainly migrant workforce getting by on the minimum wage. Over a period of time, some of the workers at Sakata decided they had had enough and put aside their fear and joined the NUW. Gradually more of their workmates joined in and they soon felt confident to ask management for a Collective Agreement with a wage increase to lift them off their bare minimum pay rates.

Time and again, over many years, management refused to negotiate. Instead of losing hope and being deterred, they kept fighting, encouraging more workmates to join their union and increase their collective strength.

By late 2004 the workers finally decided it was time to do something more and they took a risk and walked out the gate until management agreed to a Collective Agreement, better pay and improvements to workplace health and safety.

During the 10-day dispute the membership numbers swelled and the sense of community and spirit at the protest line rose right along with it.

Members became lifelong friends, united in their commitment to have a safe and fair workplace.

After 10 days of protest the workers won a Collective Agreement and commitments to improving the health and safety at the workplace.

In 2007 these brave workers, through their collective strength, celebrated the signing of a new three-year Collective Agreement, providing a more than six per cent wage increase each year.

Through sheer strength of numbers and collective action, these workers fought and won better conditions for all.

  • If you would like further information about the NUW or would like to join us contact NUW Assist on 1300 275 689 or visit www.nuw.org.au