Claims by the Australian Mines and Minerals Association and the ABS that union membership in the coal mining industry is declining is “inaccurate”, according to membership records of the CFMEU Mining and Energy division.
President Tony Maher confirmed that the union’s density had grown substantially in coal mining, saying he could only put the ABS stats down to a “sampling error”.
“The ABS have been wrong before on union membership and they’re wrong this time. We don’t blame them for that because they don’t have full information, but it does serve to feed the fantasyland the AMMA lives in,” Mr Maher said.
“The AMMA may wish that union membership was declining, and they certainly spend a lot of time attacking unions for forcing mining companies to provide decent permanent jobs with fair pay and entitlements, but its time the AMMA woke up.
“I looked at the membership records this morning and union density in coal mining has increased from about 40 per cent to over 50 per cent in the last year.
“At the end of 2014 our Division had 19,500 members in the coal industry out of a total industry workforce of 40,600 – that’s 48 per cent of the workforce in our union alone.
“These numbers do not include the membership of other unions such as the AMWU, ETU and Professionals Australia, who each have members in the mining industry.”
Mr Maher said overall union membership in the coal industry is well over 50 per cent.
“The union membership rate in coal mining has actually been going up as the industry retrenches lots of workers,” he said.
“There is good reason for that – unions have successfully fought for Enterprise Agreements which provide workers with better pay and conditions and safer workplaces – we give workers strength in numbers against very powerful foreign multinationals like BHP and Rio Tinto.”
Mr Maher said it was not uncommon for the ABS to get this type of information wrong.
“The simple fact is that the ABS doesn’t have full information and it doesn’t consult with the only organisations which do have full information about this issue – unions themselves.”