Massive member vote supercharges union amalgamation

Published: 29 Nov 2017

The formation of a new super union has been turbocharged by a massive vote by members of the Maritime Union of Australia and the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia in favour of amalgamating with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union.

Scrutineers for the unions report a massive yes vote in both ballots.

The number of members who participated in the ballot were at historically high levels and the level of the yes vote was unprecedented.

In the case of the MUA, the vote was 87 per cent “YES”, with one in every two members voting. This is higher thannpast internal MUA union elections of officers.

In the case of the TCFUA, the vote was 97 per cent “YES”, with over 64 per cent of members casting a vote.

TCFUA National Secretary Michele O’Neil said: “The overwhelming yes vote is a great, strong, clear outcome of this ballot. Our members come from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, for many English is not their first language, and yet they turned out in numbers and left us in no doubt as to their views.

“This vote is clear and unequivocal and the Federal Government should now butt out of trying to overturn the democratic decision of our members about the future of our union. TCFUA members have voted to be part of a new, smart, strong, progressive force in the Australian trade union movement.”

Both unions conducted hundreds of workplace meetings across the eight week voting period. In many instances informational material relating to the ballot was provided in multiple languages.

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said: “This is at the core of trade union and labour rights — individual member exercising their democratic decision making and democratic control of their union. Our members have spoken: they want a strong, independent and progressive union.

“This vote sets a new course for the amalgamated Union. It makes us more diverse and representative in so many ways. It increases the number of women in our union, it make us more culturally diverse, it expands the industries in which we work on a day to day basis and it opens us up to new challenges and new opportunities. It ensures that we will continue to reflect the great trade union and national heritage of building diversity along with economic, industrial, political, and social needs of working women and men in their Australian community.”

CFMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor said: “This vote sends a clear message to the Turnbull government to respect not undermine the democratic decisions of union members in the running of their unions. 

“It’s a total repudiation of suggestions by the government that this was not in those members’ interests. Those members have spoken unequivocally and with overwhelming determination on where their interests reside.”