UNITE is a campaign group that fights for the rights of young workers. We stand opposed to the super-exploitation of young workers and are part of a fighting current in the Australian trade union movement.
UNITE first started campaigning against low pay and casualisation in Melbourne during 2003. Our most notable campaigns in the early days were the ‘Name and Shame’ campaign on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, and the campaign to unionise Borders Books on Lygon Street in Carlton.
After a few years of campaigning, we decided to transform UNITE into a Victoria-wide union for fast food and retail workers. Between May 2006 and December 2016 UNITE operated as a union and had many successes.
Most notably UNITE uncovered the scandal at 7-Eleven in 2008 where the company was found to be paying its workers only half the pay they were owed. Initially hundreds of thousands of dollars were recovered laying the basis for a media expose in 2015 which then led to tens of millions of dollars being recovered!
In late 2016 a new union called the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) was established. While UNITE had mostly focused on organising small shops in Victoria, RAFFWU was set up to offer a nation-wide alternative to the right-wing Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers Association (SDA).
UNITE had been working with the founders of RAFFWU for many years and wholeheartedly supported its establishment. With more resources, and a nationwide reach, RAFFWU is well placed to play a progressive role helping to reintroduce the ideas of fighting unionism into the sector.
With that being the case, UNITE decided to revert back to operating as a campaign group. UNITE members and activists work within RAFFWU, but we also conduct our own campaigns and do other activities such as speaking at schools and universities about young workers’ rights.
This website provides a record of our work going back to 2003 and we will continue to update it with reports about current campaigns. Email our office to find out how you get involved with UNITE and help us rebuild the traditions of fighting unionism amongst young people in Australia.