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Politics in the workplace pushes industry advocates to break away

Tony Maher
Tony Maher

An industry group division that represents more than 20,000 mine workers will operate autonomously.

The entire mining and energy division at the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) will withdraw from CFMEU forums and activities and operate as an autonomous union.

High profile resignations

Tony Maher confirmed he has already resigned from his general president duties at CFMEU and will solely focus on being general president of the mining and energy division. Mining and energy division general secretary Grahame Kelly has followed in Maher’s footsteps and will no longer be national vice president of the union.

“Our representatives will not participate in the CFMMEU national executive for the foreseeable future,” Maher said in a member update.

‘Bully and steamroll’

Having served the national leadership team since it became amalgamated in 1993, the general president has witnessed an unhealthy culture of politics in the workplace.

“My view, shared by our central council, is that there is no benefit in continuing in a national leadership role in circumstances where our biggest division has decided to simply use its numbers to bully and steamroll smaller divisions,” he said.

“The current state of the union does not reflect the spirit of solidarity, consensus and shared vision that has been cultivated over the past decade. Rather, the CFMMEU has become impossibly divided and dysfunctional with no repair in sight.”

Undermining condemned

The mining and energy division unanimously passed a resolution to offer “support and appreciation” to outgoing national secretary Michael O’Connor who was allegedly a victim of workplace bullying.

“[We] condemn the actions of those who undermined his leadership,” Maher said.

“[We also] note our disdain for those parts of our union who have blatantly attacked the smaller branches and torn down Michael’s leadership; this is not the CFMMEU we signed up for,” the resolution said.

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Workers will have 24 hours to respond to COVID-19 related pay cuts.

During the interim period, the mining and energy division will operate as an autonomous and independent federal union within the CFMEU, until a further decision is made at the quadrennial national convention in March 2021.

“Please be assured that it is business as usual for your national and district officials and staff – we are all here to support you,” Maher said.

Click here to read the full resolution.

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