Industry’s fears as militant construction union set to split
The CFMEU will retain its resources and influence over the Queensland Government and become "no less militant" in the construction sector even if it proceeds with a historic split, the industry fears.
Infighting has spilt into the public, as CFMEU national construction bosses accused their colleagues in the mining division of union of using false and misleading allegations to sway delegates.
The Queensland branch of the union is attempting to rally its members against the demerger, which will go to a membership ballot later this year.
It follows the mining and energy division's 300 delegates voting unanimously to split from their controversial colleagues in construction on Monday, in which they accused construction bosses of "macho posturing and chest beating".
Master Builders Queensland boss Grant Galvin said he did not believe any split would impact the general behaviour of the construction division in the state.
"Their path is set and I can't see it moderating or becoming less militant any time soon," he said.
"They have the resources and wherewithal to significantly influence the Queensland government with or without the other sections of the union."
The union has sent a message to members against the demerger, with a video of the union's maritime division president Christy Cain, an ally of controversial figure John Setka, saying that the union can "bring down governments" working together.
CFMEU construction boss Dave Noonan said mining workers were stronger in a union of 110,000 members, rather than less than 20,000.
"We strongly believe that it is apparent from the resolution that the leadership of the mining and energy division failed to put the facts in front of the delegates," he said.
Minerals Council of Australia CEO Tania Constable said while the matter was up to the CFMEU, she hoped for an ongoing positive relationship with the mining and energy division and its president Tony Maher.
"We have open, honest and at times robust discussions, but it's with good intentions of making sure we have good performance overall for the industry, safe working conditions for the workers and plenty of jobs now and in the future for the workforce," she said.
It is the first test for new laws, passed with support from both major parties, which allow divisions of a union vote to split from the whole, in cases where there were issues of illegality or unlawful behaviour.
In a statement, Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter said the demerger bill was about giving choice to union members.
"Parts of a union can leave if it doesn't accept the lawlessness of the union in question," he said.
"Clearly, the Mining division of the CFMMEU has strong views about the impact and culture one of the most militant unions in the country, the construction division of the CFMMEU, is having on its members and it is a welcome development that it is able to make use of the new provisions to begin the process to demerge."
Originally published as Industry's fears as militant construction union set to split