Backbone of Our Movement: Olly

Olly, delegate at the Australian Services Union VicTas


How long have you been a union member?

Since my first job as a teenager.

Why did you join the union?

Working class people are the overwhelming majority of society. We do all the work, we produce all wealth, and we should run things ourselves. The only way to do this is to come together with our fellow workers and organise – to win better wages and working conditions today, and to build towards a world where we control our own workplaces and run them democratically in the interests of everyone, not just for profit.

What’s your best memory/story about being in the union movement?

There are so many! Walking off the job with my coworkers to the cheers of hundreds of people would have to be a highlight, but some of the smaller things are just as beautiful as well: seeing people you work alongside transform into confident, inspiring activists; listening to coworkers talk about how coming to union meetings and taking part in industrial action changed the way they see the world; forcing disgusting, sexist bosses to cave in and give workers everything they demanded; repelling a police attack on a picket line and the sheer exuberant joy after we did this – there are endless wonderful moments like this.

What’s the most important issue facing the union movement today?

We need, for want of a better term, more cadre – more workers with the skills, the radical politics and the confidence to go into workplaces and organise them from the bottom up.

Why should people join their union?

Because spending most of your waking life working to make someone else rich sucks, for so many reasons, and the only way we can change that is by organising with the people alongside us. What’s more, we’re heading towards ecological catastrophe and we need to radically change the way society is organised, so taking over our workplaces and running them for everyone is a good start.