A vote to join the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) — forming a massive, amalgamated trade union movement — has received overwhelming support.
The three bodies originally submitted their application for the amalgamation under the Fair Work Act in winter this year.
MUA members voted 87 per cent in favour of the new ‘super union’ with half of members voting, while TCFUA members voted an overwhelming 97 per cent, with 64 per cent of members voting overall.
Founded in 1992 the CFMEU represents over 30,000 workers across Australia, with an emphasis on safety and employee rights; in 2000 it made one of its biggest breakthroughs when it campaigned and won the right for industry workers to take a 36-hour work week and 26 days of annual paid leave.
Response from union leaders was strongly enthusiastic in response to the news.
“The overwhelming yes vote is a great, strong, clear outcome of this ballot,” said Michele O’Neil, national secretary of TCFUA. “Our members come from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds; for many English is not their first language, and yet they turned out in numbers that left us in no doubt as to their views.”
MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said that the vote would set a new course for union amalgamation, increasing diversity and representation.
“It increases the number of women in our union, it makes 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 opportunities,” he explained.
CFMEU national secretary meanwhile referred to the results as a “total repudiation” of the Turnbull Government’s suggestion that the vote was not in members’ interests.
“Those members have spoken unequivocally and with overwhelming determination on where their interests reside,” he said.