John Setka the Victorian Secretary of the Victorian branch of the Construction Forestry Mining Maritime and Energy Union (CFMMEU) has been facing a barrage of attacks by those who want to get rid of him and use the case to attack the union in which he is a leader. The tools used, bullying, threats, distortions, distortions, outright lies inquiries and legal processes to vilify and prepare the ground for the real intention. This is to attack the whole Australian union movement, which has been responsible for winning our standard of living and a range of rights that have long been taken for granted. But it is those who have stood steadfast against assaults like this who have made all the difference.
Our slogan in the BL [builders Labourers] days was always “Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win”. We struggled and we won: amenities, health and safety, clothing issue, the 36-hour week, decent wages, superannuation, redundancy, sick leave and long service leave.
“If you don’t fight, you lose” was the second part, but I’ve got to say, these days it’s “if you take on the CFMEU, you lose”. Our enemies don’t have the fight in them and we’re seeing them off one by one.
I’m not talking about dual citizenships knocking off politician after politician; other than our Aboriginal and Islander brothers and sisters, we’re all immigrants. I’m talking about the ones who picked a fight and fell.
For me, I like “The Most Committed Wins” as a saying because it’s true. That’s why we win and that’s why we see off our enemies, because we’re committed to what we do, and we won’t back down.
Tony Abbott picked a fight with unions when he introduced WorkChoices with John Howard. We never forgot what he tried to do to workers and when the Liberal Party put him up as leader, well that didn’t last long.
Damien Mantach was the Victorian Liberal Party Director who orchestrated the campaign that tried to knock out the Labor Party by tying them to us, the CFMEU. They ran TV ads with my face and the CFMEU all over them. Not only did the Liberal Party lose that election, Damian Mantach is in jail for $1.5 million of fraud.
Dyson Heydon ran the latest Royal Commission designed to bring down the union movement and almost nothing has come of that. After being exposed as the Liberal Party’s special guest for a fundraiser, he refused to front up and face questioning himself at a Senate Inquiry into the ABCC. He obviously thought he was above the law, which was exactly what he accused the CFMEU of thinking.
Nigel Hadgkiss has been waging war on the CFMEU and the union movement with his ABCC for years. He’s gone, we’re still here. His illegal raids, failed prosecutions and misleading advice didn’t just make him an embarrassment to the Liberals, it landed him in court, pleading guilty to breaking the very laws he was supposed to enforce.
Now we have Michaelia Cash, the apparent Minister for Employment. Another embarrassment for the imploding Turnbull Government, Cash fled the scene rather than face the music and resign, after being caught out conducting raids on union offices as a media stunt.
She’s not committed, not like we are. Just like raids on CFMEU offices have been found to be illegal and documents have been returned, the raids on the AWU will result in nothing. It’s a pathetic PR stunt for a government that’s falling apart and hated – behind in the polls and turning on each other.
We are the most committed and it’s easy to see why. We’re fighting for the lives of workers, for our families, for our jobs and for the future of our industry and country. They just want to win the next election.
A proud history going back well over 100 years, wages and conditions fought for by generations of union members and safety that means we get home at the end of the day. Yes, we’re committed, yes, we’ll win and yes, we’ll continue to see off our enemies because in the end, they’re fighting for nothing.