Important Member Update

Published: 1 Mar 2021


Today, the Mining and Energy Division’s National Convention has unanimously supported making an application to withdraw from the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU).

After a lengthy discussion about the reasons and practical implications, delegates from across all of our Districts voted to endorse a plan which will give all members a say in the future of our Union.

In my speech to Convention, I outlined:

  • The dysfunction within the CFMMEU’s national leadership, which has seen personal vendettas take priority over effective management of the union.
  • The push to abolish divisional autonomy, which would in time hand control of our affairs to the dominant Construction Division.
  • The steps taken by the Mining and Energy Division to operate constructively and transparently within the CFMMEU and to evaluate the best options for our future.
  • The strong financial and organisational position of our Division.

I told delegates of my conviction that while Divisions of the CFMMEU have at times in the past worked well together – especially under the leadership of former National Secretary Michael O’Connor – there is no longer a place for us in the CFMMEU. Remaining a part of this amalgamation is not in the best interests of our mining and energy members.

Our National Convention is the most democratic forum we have, with 300 delegates representing rank and file members from all Districts coming together every four years to set the direction of our Union. This is a tough decision, but we are well placed to move into the future as a standalone Mining and Energy Union. I was inspired by delegates’ commitment and enthusiasm for embarking on this project to determine our own future.

What happens next?

Our application will take time and will be subject to a lengthy legal process. Now that Convention has made this recommendation:

  • Our Central Council will make a formal decision to make an application for withdrawal from amalgamation under the Fair Work Act.
  • Our officials and professional staff will develop and lodge the application.
  •  A timetable will be set by the Fair Work Commission and hearings will be held.  
  • A ballot of members will be conducted.

This process will take several months and it is probable that a ballot of members will be held in the second half of this year. But the important thing is that it will be entirely business as usual when it comes to representing your interests at work.

Tony Maher
General President

Statement and Resolution of the 2021 Mining and Energy Division National Convention, regarding the making of an Application for a Withdrawal Ballot by the Mining and Energy Division

This National Convention is the biggest gathering of Representatives of Mining and Energy workers in Australia.

We come together every four (4) years to represent the views and interests of tens of thousands of our fellow Members working in the mines, power stations, coal ports of Australia.

We are a Union with a proud history and many achievements. Generations of Unionists who have come before us have left a precious legacy that we are determined to defend.

Our Union has no time for self-indulgence, or internal disputation. The challenges before us are simply too great.

We have no interest in the petty political fights happening in distant capital cities.

And we deplore and condemn those who would use the Union to settle personal vendettasThat is why we need to focus on a path forward in the best long-term interests of Mining and Energy workers. We need to ensure that our Union is the best Union it can be.

The structure of the amalgamated Union once served us well, but that ceased to be the case some time ago. The ruthless use of raw numbers against the smaller Divisions; the disrespect and disregard shown to the views of Mining and Energy workers; and the public undermining of our former National Secretary to settle a personal score, is simply intolerable.

It is clear that there is no longer a place of equality and dignity for the Mining and Energy Division within the amalgamated Union.

Moreover, when we consider the case for staying in the amalgamated Union it is extremely weak. There is nothing of substance that the broader amalgamated Union can offer us.

Once it could offer serious political influence and a campaigning capacity that was used to benefit the position of all Australian workers, including Mining and Energy workers.

Now there is just macho posturing and chest beating. It is a sad observation, but the amalgamated Union has never been less respected. It has never been more isolated within the Union movement and broader community.
We are better off striking our own path. We have the resources, capacity and most importantly, the support of our Members to do so. We have the opportunity to grow our Union and cement its reputation as an organisation that puts the interests of its Members first and foremost, always.


Given the context set out in the foregoing statement, and having heard the reports and discussion, this National Convention RESOLVES as follows:

  1. We RECOMMEND to Central Council, in the strongest terms, that it resolve to take immediate steps to permit Members of the Mining and Energy Division to vote on whether the Division should leave the CFMMEU and form our own registered Union.
  2. Further, Central Council should authorise and take all necessary steps to secure this withdrawal on the basis as far as possible that all the existing membership, assets, coverage and legal benefits that currently attach to the Mining and Energy Division go across to the new Union.
  3. We urge the CFMMEU to respect the will of Members of the Mining and Energy Division. The CFMMEU should allow and not obstruct a democratic ballot of Members of the Mining and Energy Division as permitted by law. The CFMMEU should not waste its members money in legal tactics designed to the frustrate the will of Mining and Energy workers.
  4. Finally, Central Council should pursue the objective of an independent Mining and Energy Union despite any objection from the CFMMEU, or any other party. Central Council should be prepared to vary or amend its approach to achieve this end, without compromising on the objective of attaining an independent Union for Mining and Energy workers.