The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has given the green light for three Australian unions to merge into a new “super union”.
In a decision published today, the FWC said it would allow the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) to merge.
The new union will be called the Construction, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union and its national secretary Michael O’Connor said it would “hit the ground running immediately”.
“What you can expect from us is a clear focus on what we have to do to turn our country around,” he said.
“We are absolutely committed to a change of government, to changing the rules to restore balance and fairness into our communities, and to growing our movement.
“It’s time for big business to stop riding on the coattails of everyday working Australians, time the banks stopped ripping people off, and time for every business in this country to pay tax.”
TCFUA national secretary Michele O’Neil said the combined strength of the CFMEU, MUA and TCFUA would “write a new chapter in Australia’s union movement”.
“Big business and the Federal Government should now get out of the way so we can get on with winning better pay, conditions, rights, and secure jobs for our members,” she said.
International president of the new union, Paddy Crumlin, called the decision a “proper recognition of trade union rights” being directed towards the will of the membership.
“Today is an important part of the renewal of our union and of our movement,” Mr Crumlin said.
“Wherever there is a need to defend the interests of Australian workers, we will be there with them in their workplaces and communities.”
The ‘super union’ has concerned some business groups, with Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn saying it will put jobs and the economy in jeopardy.
“The creation of a militant ‘super union’ is a backwards step that will have far reaching consequences for the construction industry and the community,” she said.
“The MUA and CFMEU appear to share a common belief that they are above the law and are renowned for using tactics such as bullying, intimidation, and industrial thuggery on anyone who disagrees with them.
“Merging these two unions into one new, militant ‘super union’ will see these illegal tactics become more prevalent, giving them even greater power to coerce business, put jobs at risk and bring the economy to a standstill.
“The community has every right to question how two of the most militant unions in Australian history could be allowed to get bigger.”
The first union meeting will be held this Friday in Melbourne.