At the end of 2016, let’s recap on the year that was.
Turnbull called a double dissolution election because of us and scraped through to win government with a measly 14,000 votes.
Together, we achieved one of the best EBAs in the CFMEU’s history, against all odds. We had a fully packed Festival Hall at our biggest mass meeting in living memory that made me proud. All of you should be proud because it’s because of you that we are one of the biggest and toughest unions in this country.
If you read some of the papers, you get a different story. They call us lawless thugs and report on comments by judges who comment freely on our union. One of these judges was lead counsel during the Cole Royal Commission and another was responsible for jailing me and Ralph Edwards over a dispute arising from a picket line. I’ll let you decide on how impartial they are.
Then there’s Justice Deborah Mortimer who ordered a Victorian official pay a fine out of his own pocket. I wonder if she has ever walked onto a building site to understand the reality of life for our members and the risks they take every day just by turning up to work.
Despite the attacks on us by the courts, the government and the media, the business of looking after the union continues. The campaign on registering and licencing our trades, of eliminating shonky ABNs in order to encourage more apprentices into the industry and of course, Health and Safety are our priorities on a daily basis. Particularly safety. The high number of fatalities recently shows how dangerous our job is. That’s why we are not scared of bad laws made by anti-union politicians that put our members’ lives in danger.
We are running ads on TV in order to show the community who we really are, what we really do. We are making a push to attract more women into the industry and we are in the final stages of our amalgamation with the MUA.
So, to all our brothers and sisters, I say ‘Be proud’. Put your stickers on the car, wear the T shirt because the CFMEU is a union that delivers.
This Christmas, spare a thought for those families whose loved one didn’t come home from work.
I wish you and your family a safe and joyous Christmas and a truly Happy New Year and know that we are always by your side.
And remember: Fear stops you. Courage keeps you going.