Activist defeats incumbent official in AMWU elections

Issue 

BY MARCE CAMERON

BRISBANE — Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) activist Danny Dougherty was elected state secretary of the printing division of the union's Queensland branch on November 18.

Dougherty comfortably won the postal ballot, with 62% of the vote. He defeated the incumbent Bob Jones, a supporter of both AMWU national secretary Doug Cameron and retiring AMWU state secretary Dave Harrison.

It was the first contested election of a printing division official in Queensland for more than a decade. Dougherty campaigned for industry-wide industrial campaigns, union democracy, more membership participation and accountability of elected officials, in order to turn around the steep decline in membership in the division.

Dougherty's victory was especially significant because 40% of the members voted, in comparison to the 20-25% who usually vote in AMWU elections in Queensland. Dougherty thus has a strong mandate to rebuild the division and restore members' confidence in the union.

Elections for AMWU state and national conference delegates for the union's metals division were held at the same time. All delegate positions were won by candidates backed by Queensland branch officials.

The officials, members and supporters of Cameron's National Left faction carried out a campaign of slander and misinformation against the activist Workers Unity ticket, including through two mail-outs to members and one to delegates.

Some opponents of Workers Unity spread the slanderous rumour that Workers Unity activist Brett Cardinal had moved to Queensland because he had assaulted a union member in Victoria with a baseball bat.

Cardinal, who has lived in Queensland all his life, points out that he has only visited Victoria once, when he was 18 years old. He denies assaulting the union member.

Despite their expensive and hysterical scare campaign, Cameron's supporters failed to convince most of the membership to vote against the "threat" of a Workers Unity "takeover". Only 17% of the members bothered to vote.

From Green Left Weekly, November 26, 2003.
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