December 19, 2023
With 2024 around the corner, it is a good chance to reflect on the milestones of 2023.
This year, we gained our independence as our own Mining and Energy Union.
The decision to pursue withdrawal from the CFMMEU was first proposed at our 2021 National Convention, where it garnered unanimous support from delegates. An all-member ballot followed in June, which returned 98% in favour of independence.
On 1 December, the Mining and Energy Union was registered with the Fair Work Commission as a standalone union, formalising our withdrawal from the CFMMEU.
An independent Mining and Energy Union builds on our proud tradition and track record, with a clear focus on meeting the current and future challenges facing workers in mines, ports, and power stations.
We thank everyone who has contributed to this outcome.
Another important development this year was the formation of the Federal Government’s Net Zero Economy Agency. While the shape of the statutory authority is still being developed, this is a critical step towards ensuring the interests of workers and communities are protected as coal-fired power stations move towards closure.
We have long been working towards the establishment of a federal body to support workers in emissions-intensive sectors to access new employment, skills and other support as needed; and support the necessary investment for energy regions to diversify.
Workers should not have to bear the brunt of the nation’s decarbonisation efforts .
2023 has finished on a high with the passage of the Closing Loopholes amendment to the Fair Work Act. This amendment includes the Same Job Same Pay provision that we have fought so long for.
Same Job Same Pay ensures that mine operators are unable to undercut the wages bargained for with our union by outsourcing the work to labour hire firms offering lower pay.
The recognition that labour hire should not be used to undercut bargained wages is an important win and testament to the advocacy and hard slog in the courts, the workplace and public debate over many years by our Union.
But the work of ensuring the new laws deliver for our members now begins. Big mining has exploited labour hire for years to drive down wages and conditions in our industry. Our message in 2024 is that the more mining and energy workers – labour hire and permanent – join the MEU, the more successful we can be in lifting wages and conditions.
2023 has been a deeply consequential year of our Union. We are a new Union, but with a long and proud history, maintaining the deep traditions and solidarity that has bound us together for over a century.
The MEU will stand up and continue our proud tradition of representing mining and energy workers and communities across Australia.
May you all have a Merry Christmas, and a safe and happy 2024.
Tony Maher is the General President of the Mining and Energy Union.