The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) have undertaken a series of actions against the Victorian Transport Association, which held its annual conference at Lorne’s Mantra Hotel on March 19 and 20.

The actions were taken in protest over the Victorian Transport Association’s support for the Victorian International Container Terminal (VICT).

The High Court ruled on February 14 that a CFMEU official can be ordered to pay a penalty personally, overturning a Federal Court decision that allowed the union to pay the fine on their behalf.

In 2013, CFMEU organiser Joe Myles and about 20 other people blockaded the main entrance to the Regional Rail Link project site.

In 2016, the Federal Court fined Myles $18,000 and the union was fined $60,000. The Federal Court ruled that the CFMEU could reimburse Myles, but the ABCC challenged that decision in the High Court, where it was overruled.

The Port Kembla Coal Terminal (PKCT), south of Wollongong, locked out its 58 permanent employees without pay for five days from January 7. The move is part of the company’s ongoing drive to force workers to accept cuts to their wages and conditions.

PKCT has been in negotiations with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) for a new agreement since 2015, when the previous enterprise agreement expired.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union's Queensland construction branch has reached an in-principle agreement that will end weekend work and increase pay and overtime rates.

The new agreement with Multiplex, Hutchinson, Watpac, Probuild and Icon complies with the federal government's building code. This prevents builders with agreements containing banned conditions, including restrictions on casual labour, union consultation arrangements and controls over rostered days off, from competing for federally-funded work.

Momentum for a new super-union has accelerated with a strong vote by members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) in favour of amalgamating with the giant Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU). Both unions reported an overwhelming Yes vote.

The MUA vote was 87% in favour, with 50% of members participating. This involvement is higher than past internal MUA elections for union officers.

It is approaching crunch time for the Adani mega-coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, with the movement against it growing by the day, including in areas that traditionally support mining.

In the lead up to and following the announcement of the plebiscite, now survey, on changing the Marriage Act, unions have played a prominent role in promoting and resourcing the Yes campaign.

Senior union officials have been speakers at rallies, there have been large union contingents at protest marches and unions — especially peak bodies such as Victorian Trades Hall Council and the Australian Council of Trade Unions — have been providing infrastructure to help build the capacity for the campaign to ensure maximum participation and support for the Yes side.

Activists rallied outside the Sydney Town Hall on July 29 in solidarity with the people of Venezuela who were voting in their Constituent Assembly elections amid a wave of right-wing terror attacks.

The rally was called by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN), the Latin America Social Forum (LASF) and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Sydney branch. It had the support of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) construction branch and formed part of the nationwide actions supporting the assembly elections in Venezuela.

Unions NSW: Wage theft the new business model

A Unions NSW report Lighting up the black market: Enforcing minimum wages, released on July 17, found 80% of a sample of online job advertisements in Korean, Chinese and Spanish publications around the country paid below award rates.

The Victorian government announced on July 3 it had made an in-principle deal to buy the Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) timber mill. The deal to save Australia's largest hardwood mill could cost taxpayers up to $50 million.


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