CPSU Vic Organiser Recognised for Serco Speed Camera Operators Campaign

Updated 06/06/2024

The power of collective action and activism demonstrated in the successful campaign at SERCO Traffic Camera Services has been recognised with an ACTU Award. CPSU Vic Organiser Lisa Pearce was named Organiser of the Year at the triennial ACTU Congress in Adelaide, for her work organising and supporting delegates and members at SERCO.

Through strategic organisation of delegate activists, unwavering determination of members, and a commitment to a David and Goliath battle, 190 workers took on the multinational SERCO. They achieved remarkable victories, including significant pay increases, increases to contracted hours, the right to be covered by the Miscellaneous Award, and invaluable rights of procedural fairness and natural justice.

At the heart of the campaign's success lay the formation of a robust activist network.   With three key delegates, Kelly, Joanne, and Mark, Lisa led a campaign to recruit regional activists to build our base. This was an important step as every traffic camera officer works in isolation in a 24/7 environment.  The only way the union could reach new starters, non-members, and members to get them to join and be active was a combination of side of the road conversations, local What’s App Groups, pub conversations and kitchen table meetings.

The regional activist network grew our delegate base from 3-10 activists.  Lisa trained and mentored them to recruit and build strength in each of their regions and achieved this in 3 months.  The training was done through mentoring and group support as staff couldn’t be released from work to attend formal training.  

Within 6 months, we grew the membership from 78 to 190 members, out of 200 staff.  

The mobilisation of this activist network was not merely about rallying behind a set of demands but also about fostering a culture of empowerment and solidarity among workers.  We inoculated members against what would be a hostile campaign from SERCO, where bully boy tactics were employed against workers, often with aggressive standover behaviour to intimidate workers to stop taking action.  Lisa made sure that every member had a support network to fight against these hostilities, building resilience and solidarity.

Recognising the inherent power asymmetry between workers and management, the campaign embraced industrial action to disrupt business as usual, amplify demands, and compel meaningful engagement from stakeholders.

The decision to embark on 100 days of industrial action was not taken lightly.  SERCO used poverty wages as a weapon.  Many of the members worked in regional communities where there was no other work.  Despite this, through their collective determination union members disrupted over 10,800 hours’ worth of profit for the company.  

This prolonged display of solidarity and resilience sent a clear message to management: workers were prepared to endure hardship and take on one of the biggest companies in the world and sacrifice themselves to secure their rights for the future. The sustained pressure exerted by industrial action forced management to confront the urgency of workers' demands, catalysing substantive dialogue and negotiation.

Beyond the material gains, perhaps the most enduring legacy of the campaign was the transformation of workplace culture and dynamics at SERCO.

The campaign represented a triumph of the human spirit, as workers reclaimed agency, dignity, and power in the face one of the worlds biggest multinationals.  As a beacon of hope and inspiration, the campaign at SERCO serves as a powerful reminder of the enduring relevance and potency of grassroots organising and collective struggle in the ongoing fight for workers' rights and social justice.

Congratulations Lisa on your well deserved award and congratulations to CPSU Vic activists at SERCO.

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