It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s Super-union!


Two of Australia’s most well know unions are proposing to merge and form what will be Australia’s largest union.

The proposed merger will see the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and the Maritime Union of Australia’s (MUA) joining forces, in what spokesman Paddy Crumlin said will create Australia’s most powerful union.

In a time of d800px-INF3-314_Unity_of_Strength_Tank_with_allied_flags_on_track_driving_wheelswindling union membership, and their diminishing relevance among Australian workers, what does this merger mean?

The ABC today reported the following remarks from the MUA’s Paddy Crumlin:

“This is a huge decision that hasn’t been taken lightly, but 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.

“What we believe we can have is better resources, better legal resources, better research resources, better political lobbying, better international lobbying, better financial services.”

I support the rights of workers to form their own associations in order to represent their interests with business. But is this traditional philosophy of unionism behind this super-union merger or is it something else?

The word ‘lobbying’ may be the key to what this merger means. A union merger of this scale is a way to maintain political power while union representation and relevance for workers continues to diminish.

Paddy Crumlin’s remarks that this merger will create Australia’s most powerful union begs a number of questions. In a time of diminishing relevance of unions, why is there the need to create such a powerful, ‘super-union’? Furthermore, as union membership continues to dwindle, whose political interests will this super union serve? Will it be the interests of workers, or something or someone else?

Will this merger mean that workers’ interests are better represented? Or is it a move to sure up the power of a political class that is frightened that its relevance and clout is waning? And furthermore, to extend that influence and power beyond its own constituents into other areas of society?

As the abuses of power and misuses of union funds continue to be revealed in the Royal Commission into union corruption, these questions into this super-union merger need to be taken taken seriously.