‘Mega Union’ tipped with United Voice close to merger with National Union of Workers

by Freya Lucas

June 11

The National Union of Workers and United Voice have the potential to form what has been termed “the biggest blue collar union in the country” after the Fair Work Commission gave the go ahead for the two unions to conduct a merger ballot with their memberships, the Australian Financial Review (AFR) has reported.

 

The merger will go ahead in the event that a member vote in favour of the proposed merger is successful. The move to ballot comes after the Fair Work Commission found that the proposed amalgamation met with the requirements of the Registered Organisations Act, and was not opposed by employers or other unions.

 

Should the merger be successful, the AFR wrote, a “powerful new entity” known as the United Workers Union will result, consisting of 156,000 workers employed in sectors and industries such as health care, defence, early childhood education and care (ECEC), logistics and manufacturing.

 

United Voice is a familiar union to those working in ECEC, being the driving force behind the Big Steps campaign to secure government funding for pay equity in the sector, and bringing a case to the Fair Work Commission in relation to pay equity.


The National Union of Workers (NUW) is most widely known for its ‘Fluro Fightback’ campaign, which uses Anti Poverty Week to highlight the challenges posed by the casualisation of the workforce, making links between poverty and insecure work.

 

The potential of such a large and national union, Mr Moase said, would be that a single union with a single leadership team across a broad range of sectors and industries could create far greater change than the impact both unions had currently.

 

The AFR noted that there are political implications from the proposed merger also, with United Voice having a prominent place in the Australian Labor Party for those left-leaning members, and the NUW a presence for those from the right.

 

United Voice, with over 100,000 members, represents the bulk of those affected by the proposed merger, whilst NUW has over 55,000 members. Both unions have what Fair Work Deputy President Val Gostencnik described as “common industrial interests”.

 

In his decision in relation to the ballot, Mr Gostencnik noted that both unions shared high numbers of low-paid members and similar proportions of non-English speaking migrants, part-timers, casuals and labour hire workers.

 

Speaking on behalf of United Voice, National Secretary Joanne Schofield said the decision to merge or otherwise would ultimately rest with members of both unions, however she would be campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote.

 

The coverage as written by AFR may be accessed here.

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