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NSW 2019 Delegate of the Year Awarded to Wayne Pringle

January 13, 2020

 Tomago Aluminium Delegate Wayne Pringle was awarded the inaugural NSW Delegate of the Year for his long-standing commitment to the AWU and his role as a senior on-site delegate.

Wayne represents over 500 on-site members and has worked at the smelter for 30 years – 25 as an AWU delegate and the last 11 as the Senior Site AWU delegate. He was nominated by NSW Assistant Secretary Tony Callinan, who said Wayne was “one of the best union delegates I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”

“Wayne gets involved with anything that has people’s best interests at heart.”

One stand-out contribution is how Wayne gives back to the community.  Wayne has helped to facilitate the signing of over 600 employees to out-of-pay deductions, which go to selected charities each year. In 2019, The John Hunter Children’s Hospital and Soldier on organisations each received $20,000. Since the project’s inception, over $1 million has been raised for charity.

Tony also noted Wayne’s commitment to the union. “Wayne has a strong focus on ensuring that everyone at Tomago is an AWU member. Since he became senior site delegate, 553 new AWU members have joined and 64 joined just this year.

Wayne, who accepted the award at the 2019 National Conference, commented that “it’s very gratifying to be acknowledged for the work you do, which is often behind the scenes, so people don’t know or see the work that a delegate does daily. It’s a great concept from the AWU, and I’m very proud to be the recipient of the inaugural award.”

But the biggest reward, he says, comes from his members. “Trophies are for the mantelpiece, but the best acknowledgement is when you are able to help a member in despair, and there’s a quiet nod of appreciation. That makes it all worthwhile.”

Wayne has witnessed more ups and downs at Tomago than almost anyone else. He’s assisted with and led campaigns that have shaped the workforce today, including 12-hour shifts, annualised salaries, workplace structures, and a number of EBAs.

His trophy, constructed from Australian made aluminium, steel and glass – all sourced from proud AWU member sites – sits discreetly on his desk as he negotiates the day, including conversations with management, resolving individual disputes, or coordinating support programmes. He is also the Chair of the AWU Aluminium Industry Reference Group, and a member of the AWU NSW Branch Executive.

It’s the personal dismissals, he says, that are the hardest part of the job. “You really see how it affects the person and no matter how much training in company policies, workplace safety, human resources, drugs and alcohol and managerial governance is given to delegates, none of it prepares you for sitting in a room with a grown man in distress.”

“Sometimes you can’t help but get involved in their private lives. I can spend weeks or months sometimes thinking about a person when that happens. It definitely affects you.”

AWU has become embedded in the workplace culture, which Wayne counts as a blessing. “We’re lucky that we have the AWU here at Tomago,” he says. “I’ve received great support from other Delegates and the AWU Organisers over the years. I really couldn’t do it if we weren’t a team to start with.”

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