Union threatens Labor breakaway

Robert Mitchell robert_andrew_mitchell at yahoo.com.au
Sat Jan 11 07:32:30 MST 2003

[ converted from html ]

>From The Australian Online

THE Australian Workers' Union had threatened to end its long-time
affiliation with the NSW branch of the ALP and the NSW Labor Council,
the union said today.

AWU state secretary Russ Collison has written to NSW ALP general
secretary Eric Roozendaal and NSW Labor Council Secretary John Robertson
to express dissatisfaction over attempts by rival unions to take over
coverage of its members.  The AWU, the oldest original affiliate of both
the ALP and the Labor Council, was concerned about the involvement of
the NSW Government and the Labor Council in registering an enterprise
agreement.  Covering workers on a major Carr government infrastructure
project, the Epping to Chatswood Underground Rail Link, the agreement
was between the Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union (CFMEU),
the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (both left-wing unions) and
Theiss Constructions.  It was certified in the Industrial Relations
Commission on Thursday and according to the AWU, forces many of its
members to join the CFMEU, which does not have legal coverage of any
tunnel workers.

"A sleazy deal has been done here," Mr Collison, who is also a vice
president of the Labor Council and ALP State Executive member, said.
"Theiss have gone out of their way to stitch up a deal with the CFMEU
which denies the right of workers to be able to choose which union will
represent them. "We would expect the state government and the Labor
Council to immediately condemn the actions of these organisations and
try to broker a peace deal."  He warned that if the situation was not
rectified, "massive demarcation disputes (will) break out across
construction sites nationally".  In a veiled threat contained in his
letter to Mr Roozendaal, dated January 10, Mr Collison foreshadowed
delays to the project if the dispute was not settled.  "I understand the
NSW Government has an interest in insuring that this project is well
under way by the time of the State Election as the rail link effects
several marginal seats such as Parramatta and Ryde," he wrote.  NSW
Labor Council spokesman Peter Lewis said it was working with all parties
concerned to resolve the issue.  Comment was being sought from the NSW
ALP and Theiss.

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