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A Union for Everyone


For over a century, the AWU has fought hard for equality and justice for all workers in Australia – from securing equal pay for women farm workers in the 1920’s, to our strong ‘Yes’ campaign in the same-sex marriage vote, to reclaiming millions of dollars in stolen wages for vulnerable migrant workers in 2022.

Our union firmly believes workers are stronger together. The AWU is an equal opportunity employer and expects this of all of our member’s employers. We fight hard for fair, equitable agreements across the country.

How women helped forge the AWU

The AWU has a proud history of fighting for the rights of women at work, and we have long supported campaigns for gender equity in the workplace. Representing women in a variety of industries across Australia, our officials work hard every day for safe, respectful and equal workplaces for all AWU members.

AWU members in the workplace and fighting for equal rights

The AWU has had strong and incredible women from our earliest days. Our most famous female member is Dame Mary Gilmore, a poet and writer, who contributed to The Australian Worker. Dame Mary campaigned for maternity allowances, child health centres, the rights of the aged and infirm, and many other social issues in 1908 – and is now considered to be one of Australia’s legendary unionists.

Throughout the twentieth century, the AWU supported women members in agriculture, manufacturing, and many other industries across the country. As early as the 1920’s, the AWU insisted on equal pay for women working as pickers on Australian farms. The AWU has campaigned tirelessly for equal pay, fair parental leave provisions, and gender equity.

Our own ‘Women of Steel’ changed the landscape for working women, paving the way for equal rights to employment for women across Australia. The legendary Jobs for Women campaign started on the shop floor at the BHP Port Kembla Steelworks, and rose to the High Court of Australia, where workplace laws were changed forever to give women equal access to employment. The AWU also supported the award-nominated documentary, which can be purchased online here. 

Women in the AWU Today

The AWU continues the ongoing fight for fair, equal workplaces for women. In 2021 and 2022, branches trained over 200 women delegates and HSRs, giving these workers the skills and support to speak up in their workplaces.

The AWU has supported the We Won’t Wait! Campaign for years, calling for 10 days’ paid family and domestic violence leave for all workers. Members and officials have campaigned tirelessly, and in 2022 a huge victory was won for workers – with 10 days’ paid family and domestic violence leave added to the NES, including for part-time and casual workers.

The union has also spoken out against sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. AWU leadership condemned Michaelia Cash and the Morrison Government, who refused to take action after the publishing of the damning Respect@Work report, and AWU members petitioned MPs in support of new laws that would provide valuable protections for workers against sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace – which were finally introduced in 2022 by the Albanese Government.

Recent AWU campaigns for safe, equal workplaces

In WA, the AWU, as part of the Western Mine Workers’ Alliance, lifted the lid on the true scale of sexual harassment and assault in the FIFO mining industry. A survey of mine workers found 1 in 5 women experienced physical assault, and two-thirds experienced sexual harassment at work or on their camp site.

The WMWA’s submission was supported with harrowing testimony at a WA Parliamentary Inquiry, and the report, adopts a number of WMWA’s recommendations and cited our submission as evidence of the widespread harassment and discrimination experienced by FIFO women in the Pilbara.

The AWU is also campaigning to introduce paid menstrual leave for workers, to make sure women who suffer the painful menstrual and menopausal symptoms aren’t disadvantaged at work. The union has already inserted clauses into a number of agreements, and is calling for this paid entitlement to be available to all workers in Australia.


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Stronger together.


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