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New leadership team for Queensland union movement

JK and KRJacqueline King and Kate Ruttiman have been elected as the new leadership team of the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) – the peak union body in Queensland representing almost 400,000 union members.

King has been elected General Secretary, having held the role in an Acting capacity since late 2022 and previously holding the role of QCU Assistant General Secretary.

Ruttiman has been elected as the first female President; she is also General Secretary of the Queensland Teachers’ Union.

Together, Jacqueline and Kate are the first elected female leadership team for the Queensland peak body.

King, a member of the Electrical Trades Union, started working in the union movement in her twenties as an organiser. 

After organising for several years, she became a Research and Industrial Officer with the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union and the QCU before working for several Labor State Ministers for Industrial Relations.

Since returning to the QCU, Jacqueline has been responsible for driving the legislative agenda pursuing changes to work health and safety, managing psychosocial hazards at workplaces, prevention of sexual harassment, and achievement of gender pay equity in Queensland.

King is credited with driving reforms to root out scab unions in Queensland whose aim she says is to discredit the political voice of unions and workers through undermining the significant level of public sector unionism in Queensland (currently around 44 per cent).

She also led the 2022 negotiations brokering the Queensland public sector wage deal, achieving a base 4, 4 and 3 per cent wage increase over three years plus a cost of living adjustment – still by far the best public sector wage deal in the country.

King said it was a privilege and a challenge to hold the position of General Secretary.

“We have a great team at the Council supported by a strong leadership team in our Management Committee and Executive with affiliated unions representing the overwhelming majority of Queensland union members,” she said.

She listed the Voice Referendum in 2023 and the upcoming 2024 state election campaign as the top priorities for the Council.

“Queensland unions have always stood by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.

“The campaign to achieve a Voice in our Constitution is essential to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the First Peoples of this land and to ensure there is an ongoing requirement for governments to consult with them about the policies that directly impact upon their people and communities.”

King said the re-election of a Labor Government in the October 2024 state election is imperative.

“Queensland workers have achieved so much under this Labor Government, and many of these reforms would be simply ripped up by a reckless, ideological, and out of touch LNP if they were to return,” King said.

“Under this Labor Government, Queensland was the first state to introduce industrial manslaughter laws, the best work health and safety laws in the country,” she said.

“We also have the strongest regulations to prevent psychosocial hazards in Queensland workplaces – on things like workloads, occupational violence, and harassment – again leading the nation”.

King has also been working closely with Respect Inc and Decrim Queensland on the decriminalisation of sex work in Queensland to ensure that all sex workers have protections, both industrially and for work health and safety.

“The current system is outdated and discriminates against many workers in this industry forcing them into illegal work,” she said.

“It’s high time we accepted that sex work is real work for many people in this state.”

King said she expected the Government to introduce decriminalisation before the end of 2023.