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Impressive Milestone for AWU Member

November 14, 2023

Australian Workers Union member Marko Dugec marked an impressive milestone in November, clocking up 50 years at BlueScope Steel—and 50 years in the AWU.

Marko joined the union on his first day on the job, which he says started “at the age of 17 years and around nine months”. Over his 50 years in the industry, he has worked in a number of roles at BlueScope: “machine operator, crane driver, forklift operator, steel inspector—you name it,” he says.

And he’s met some big names. Former Australian prime ministers Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke visited the BlueScope plant while he was working there. “[Cricketer] Merv Hughes came for a look around as well.” Bill Shorten—now Labor minister for Government Services and NDIS—was his union organiser in earlier years of work.

Marko with his workmates

Even if you don’t have any issues or problems at work, Marko says it’s good to know that the union is there to support you if you need it. “It’s not an easy job. Shift work can be tough for some people.”

“But if you stick with it and work hard you can achieve a lot—and it’s great to have the union backing you up.”

A lot has changed over 50 years, perhaps most notably industry attitudes to workplace safety—“it’s now number one on the list” of priorities, Marko says.

AWU Victorian Branch Secretary Ronnie Hayden says dedicated members like Marko are the lifeblood of the union. “Over fifty years, we’ve seen a huge shift in Australia’s workforce, but we’ve held on to strong pay and conditions on worksites like Bluescope. That wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of our members, delegates, and HSRs building union power on their site.”

“It’s a real testament to the strength and unity of our members.”

Marko cutting the cake to celebrate 50 years

As well as negotiating for better pay, conditions and job security, the Australian Workers’ Union can provide legal help, insurance and advice about work when you need it.

From steelworkers like Marko to gold miners, fruit pickers, offshore gas workers, aluminium workers and hair stylists, AWU members are committed to progressive ideals and making a better Australia.

The union is proud to fight for members’ rights at every level—on-site, at the negotiating table, in the courts, in parliament, and in the media. AWU members get a better deal, earning an average of $350 more per week than non-union workers.

As for Marko’s next steps? After 50 years he’s still enjoying the job. “I’m taking it day by day,” he says.

“I’m in no rush to retire just yet.”

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