Apart from being organisations that seek to maintain and improve working conditions for their members, unions can often act as vehicles for social change as a whole. Some of the community-based campaigns that unions in Victoria have become involved with include:
- Black banning the export of pig iron to Japan in the lead up to WWII
- Green bans on certain developments.
- Opposition to nuclear weapons, and visits by nuclear armed or powered ships
- The protection of our natural resources, including our rain forests
- Land rights for Aboriginal people and improved rights for women
- Supporting self determination for the people of East Timor
- Highlighting the inhumane treatment of refugees seeking asylum in Australia
Some unions are far more active around social issues than others. The need to campaign against the Federal Government’s IR changes may also limit the capacity of some unions to respond to other social issues.