Politically driven vendetta against construction union scores another failure for the government

By Joe Montero

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has dropped charge related to allegations against the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU). the charges relate to prosecution of the union’s Canberra branch, Jason O’Mara.

Thisges back to 2013 and came out of the 2014 Heydon Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption. They have ragged out over the years since, causing stress to O’Mara, dragging him and the union through the mud.

Thee main accusation was that O’Mara had threatened to “run businesses out of town,” if they did not cooperate with the union.

In the end, the prosecution says that the case is too difficult. It looks like the problem is difficulty in presenting witnesses, and the case hinged heavily on this.

Cases against several other representatives of the union have also been dropped.

Dave Noonan, National  secretary of the Construction Division, spoke out on behalf of the union and demanded an apology and explanation. He said, “The ACCC has engaged in the blatant victimisation of Jason O’Mara.

“An honest, hardworking trade unionist has endured three years of trial by media and attacks on his character.”

The O’Mara case has been part of an ongoing vendetta against the CFMMEU.

The Heydon Royal Commission became the springboard to conduct an ongoing trial by media. It was designed to ruin the reputation of the union in the public’s eyes.

There has been no substance to the politically motivated accusations.

This offensive was an attempt, to muzzle the effectiveness of the union, which has long led the in securing improved pay and conditions for its members.and through this, to weaken the Australian union movement. The motive is to re-align the authority to set pay and conditions into the hands of employers.

Shifting workplace authority in this way, fits in with the neoliberal direction of shifting the income pie to the shareholders

Both the government and the ACCC are accused of carrying out an abuse of power to accomplish a political objective.

But attempts to prosecute representatives of the union have not gone well. This case is the latest in a string of failures, and the union continues to survive.

Survival of the CFMMEU is important. Without the union, the wages share of national income would fall much further than it has, and because the union has been a pacesetter in securing safer workplaces, worker safety would also fall.

There is am mountain of evidence, which shows that keeping down the workers’ share of income is not the path to a healthy economy. If it was, Australia’s economy  would already be doing much better than it is.

The attack on the union will continue and it is important that it fails.

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