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CFMEU, MUA merger approved but big business opposed

BROTHERS IN ARMS: CFMEU national secretary Michael O’Connor and MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin, photographed during early merger negotiations in February 2016. Picture: Nick MoirTHE Newcastle branch of the Maritime Workers Union says the new amalgamated “super-union” will not wreak the industrial havoc that employers are predicting.
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The MUA and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union are combining, along with the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union, to create a single body known as the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union.

The amalgamation is set to take effect on March 27 after a 71-page decision handed down in the Fair Work Commission on Tuesday by Deputy President Val Gostencnik, who found there was no legal impediment to the three-way merger.

Employer groups led by the Master Builders Association and the n Mines and Metals Association have opposed the merger, saying it will be easier for the union to put industrial pressure on employers and projects, and harder for employersto prove “secondary boycotts”, whenmore than one workplace is dragged into a dispute.

The metals association says a single union will controlmuch of theHunter Valley Coal Chain.

“As one of ’s most important resources regions, this merger represents a very real threat to the Hunter Valley coal region,” association director Amanda Mansini said. “We are highly concerned about the now imminent escalation of unlawful conduct which these unions, on their own public statements, have promised will result from this merger, from pit to port.”

Despite the concerns of employers, MUA Newcastle secretary Glenn Williams said the new combined union was subject to the same industrial relations laws, which were heavily weighted against unions and workers.

“Virtually all of our employers are multi-nationals with plenty of resources,” Mr Williams said. “The merger gives us combined resources when it comes to strategy, research, campaigning and media. As waterside workers, we can’t just jack up in support of miners up the valley. We will work with them as we always have with solidarity, but this thing about holding the whole coal chain to ransom is just ridiculous.”

The new union’s national secretary, Michael O’Connor, said:“Big business has too much power, we have record levels of inequality in our community, and working families are finding it hard to make ends meet. We will be fighting every day to restore the fair go.”

The CFMMEU will have 140,000 members, making it the nation’s second biggest.

UNION POWER: MUA member after a court hearing during the major Patrick Stevedoring dispute of 1998. Employers have opposed the merger, saying it will give the combined union an extra advantage in terms of organising ability. The unions say they are still restricted by the existing industrial relations laws, whether they are one union or two.

The Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Union is believed to have about 200,000 members, and the n Workers Union about 100,000 members.

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