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Auto workers union chief retires
Ian Jones steps down as AMWU national vehicle division boss after 32-year career
26 Jul 2012
By TERRY MARTIN
THE national vehicle division secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU), Ian Jones, recently retired after almost 32 years as an elected full-time official.
AMWU national president, Andrew Dettmer, paid tribute to Mr Jones and the “lasting contribution he made to the union and its members”.
“He has been a fierce advocate for automotive workers and the industry more broadly,” Mr Dettmer said.
“He has steered the ship during some challenging economic times, to achieve excellent outcomes for our members.
“On behalf of everyone in our union I’d like to thank Ian for his lifetime commitment to the movement and the significant legacy he leaves.” The AMWU vehicle division’s federal executive has endorsed assistant national secretary Dave Smith to replace Mr Jones until a permanent appointment is made at the division’s next national conference.
Mr Smith has been assistant national secretary since 1992 and is now acting national secretary of the vehicle division. He joined the AMWU as an appointed official in 1993, having started his career in the aircraft industry (as did Mr Jones).
“It’s business as usual,” said Mr Smith. “There are no major changes in the immediate term.
“Our focus is on getting out there and ensuring our members are getting the best representation they can.”
Mr Smith also paid tribute to Mr Jones, highlighting that he had negotiated “countless agreements that have all contributed to improving the lives and conditions of automotive workers”.
“Workers are significantly better off today than when Ian first became Victorian secretary of the then VBEF (Vehicle Builders Employees Federation of Australia),” he said.
“At that time automotive workers were amongst the lowest paid, semi-skilled workers around. Now they’re among the highest paid with a structured career path and skills recognition.
“We were the first blue-collar private sector union to get paid maternity leave over the line. It began at General Motors with six weeks paid leave, it’s now flowed through to rest of the industry, and the standard is about 14 weeks.
“It still one of our proudest achievements and it’s no coincidence we were able to achieve it with Ian at the helm.”
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