Australia’s mining and energy division has reportedly announced its decision to split from the CFMMEU (Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining, and Energy Union). This will be the first split under the new demerger laws of the federal government.
According to sources knowledgeable of the matter, the decision reportedly comes after an extensive internal battle, which caused public spats between members of the construction and mining divisions following the conviction of the construction boss, John Setka, for harassment and breach of a family violence intervention order in 2019. Relations between the divisions further deteriorated when Setka was blamed for “poaching” 200 members from the contender manufacturing wing of the union.
As per Tony Maher, the President of the Mining and Energy division, members were better off on their own without intervention from the forestry and construction divisions of the organization. Maher has further added that it was not the union that they signed up for as unions cannot allow personal vendettas to determine outcomes.
While energy and mining workers expect that they be represented according to their own interests and not as per someone else’s whim, there is an opportunity to split off as their own union - a union of energy and mining workers, added Maher.
The Mining and Energy President had earlier flagged plans for leaving the union after he quit as national President of CFMMEU in November 2020. At that time, he also withdrew the mining unit until the month of March.
However, on Monday, 1st March 2021, nearly 300 national convention delegates from the energy and mining division voted unanimously for applying to the Fair Work Commission to effectively withdraw from CFMMEU, supposedly making the commission the first to use the new demerger laws of the federal government.
The law, which passed with the support of Labor in 2020, enabled de-amalgamation after five years. Earlier, unions which had consolidated could only go for de-amalgamation after two years but prior to five years, following which the confederation could not be reversed.