Sharan Burrow on receiving the award of Companion of the Order of Australia

I am honoured and very humbled to receive such an award. It is truly unexpected.

As a trade unionist this award represents a recognition of the courage and the dedication of hundreds of thousands of working women and men who collectively stand up for democratic rights and freedoms, for social justice and the rule of law.

There have been many highlights. Paid parental leave, rights at work, negotiating pay rises, resolving tough industrial disputes, dismantling slavery in the Gulf States, action on climate change – these all come from the collective power of working people, not just one person. This award is recognition for the women and men who have stood up, spoken out and never given up on campaigns to change the rules.

It comes at a time when our world is more fractured than it has been in the past. Despite the ever increasing wealth we live in a world with increasing numbers of people living in economic desperation, under threat of conflict, persecuted in modern slavery or suffering discrimination and oppression.

The recognition gives us all more motivation to boost our efforts to rebuild trust in democracy, with transparency and accountability. We are working to secure a new social contract with a floor of a universal labour guarantee for all workers, including platform workers, through a Declaration to be adopted at this year’s Centenary Conference of the International Labour Organisation. And we’re working too to secure Just Transition as a pathway to high ambition as leaders go to the UN Climate Summit in September.

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Gemma Swart
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