The Maritime Union of Australia ("MUA") and
Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union ("CFMEU")
have announced this month that they are considering a merger.
The MUA and CFMEU are two of Australia's largest and most
powerful unions, with approximately 16,000 and 140,000 members
respectively. The merger proposal will be put to the MUA's
members at its national conference in February 2016. In the
meantime, both the MUA and CFMEU have expressed support for the
merger and the impact it will have on workers' rights in
Paddy Crumlin, National Secretary of the MUA, has said that the
merger will create Australia's most powerful union. He recently
stated that "discussions to merge with the like-minded CFMEU
will help us fight the ever-pervasive anti-worker and anti-union
attacks on workers and their entitlements and job security".
Mr Crumlin has also identified the ability to pool financial and
legal resources as a significant factor motivating the proposed
merger, particularly in light of the various complex legal issues
currently being faced by unions in Australia.
Michael O'Connor, National Secretary of the CFMEU, has also
expressed the opinion that the merger will strengthen both the
national and international union movement. He recently stated that
"the struggle isn't just about increasing wages, or
creating a safe work site, there is also a bigger and important
political struggle... [t]his move will be hugely beneficial to not
just the members of the MUA and CFMEU but will lead the way for all
working men and women".
The proposed merger is said to be a response to the tough current
political climate for unions, with the new Turnbull government
continuing to promote the Abbott government's proposals to
limit the powers of unions in Australia. If the merger goes ahead,
it will likely improve the bargaining power of both unions in
opposing the government's move toward restricting the influence
of unions in the Australian workforce.
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