November 27, 2022
Blackwater No 1 Lodge Secretary Jenna Saunders was awarded ‘Delegate of the Year’ at the recent Queensland District Awards Night. We caught up with Jenna about what she loves about being a Union Delegate.
How long have you been a Union member and how did you get involved as a Delegate?
I have been in the Union for about ten years, and I have been active for eight years since I become Assistant Secretary of my Lodge. What happened was two union members approached me and said I should run for Assistant Secretary. They offered to be my Campaign Managers and support me, and I thought there would be a campaign. But then I got a call from the President of the Lodge, Greg Donohue who said ‘Congratulations Jenna, you are now our Assistant Secretary’. I haven’t looked back since. I’m really grateful that those two members came to see me and encouraged me to get involved because it’s why I am here today.
What were some memorable moments as a Delegate this year?
The whole year has been memorable. I helped facilitate the QLD Women’s Conference which I was really proud of. Also being from a smaller worksite, it was great to meet with and socialise with other members from other pits. In terms of memorable moments, I really love being able to help members out with individual issues or disputes. Whenever I can help someone out as a Union Delegate is a memorable moment.
What was a Union win you were part of this year?
We won paid parental leave for apprentices and trainees which I was really proud of. The BMA Central Agreement covers sites like Blackwater, Goonyella, Peak Downs and the Saraji mines. They’re all owned by BMA and have one EA. We ran the dispute at the Fair Work Commission, and we were able to make sure all workers on each of the sites were being paid the entitlements they deserved. I got a phone call that a young girl at another pit got paid all her money back and it was a special moment that our dispute didn’t just help the members right around me but helped other people working in other pits too. It was an important win because it helps people to prepare for life with a child.
What does being a Delegate mean to you?
It’s about remembering that workers aren’t in it alone and we’re all standing alongside one another. When people have a concern at work, we help them find their voice and as Delegates we remind these companies about their obligations. When people say thank you because you’ve been able to fix something for them, I really appreciate it. There’s been some moments where members have approached me with an issue, and I’ve made a phone call. Then a week later the member tells me the issue has been fixed. I always appreciate those moments.
How did you learn how to be a Delegate and how do you feel about winning Best Delegate?
Training is a big thing, so we receive Delegate training, and the Union supports you in being a Delegate. I’ve had some great people around me who have helped me to the position I am, for example Greg has been a supporter of mine and I’ve learned a lot from him. When I was told I was even nominated to be Delegate of the Year I laughed, and I thought ‘Oh gosh!’. I feel very humbled, and I think it’s great that we’re recognising our members in this way.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking about becoming a Delegate?
Don’t be scared to put your hand up. There’s so much support around you to become a Delegate in our great Union. There’s support from your District, the Officials, the National Office and other members. What we’re trying to do is listen, help and learn and anyone can do it and it’s very rewarding.
I’m really grateful to the Mining and Energy Union for this great opportunity to be a Delegate, and it’s really helped my development and it’s something I’m very proud of.