CFMEU’s ACT affairs become increasingly complex as John Lomax faces court today

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ANDREW Wall says ACT Labor and the Greens should suspend financial and political links with the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), pending the outcome of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance.

“As a result of evidence provided to the Royal Commission by Canberra businesses, a number of former CFMEU and former ALP members are now facing charges. Given the very close political relationship between the ACT Labor Party and the CFMEU it would be prudent for the ACT Labor/Green government to distance themselves until criminal charges are investigated,” Andrew said.

“The ACT Branch of the CFMEU has made significant contributions to both ACT Labor and the ACT Greens election campaigns, both financially and by way of supportive third party campaigns.

“The CFMEU has donated almost $215,000 to the ALP in cold hard cash since Labor came to power in the ACT, and in addition to this, the ACT Greens have received $92,500 from the CFMEU since 2006.

“Serious allegations have been levelled at the CFMEU in the Royal Commission and it is incumbent upon members of the Labor/Green government to suspend their relationship with the CFMEU in order to maintain the integrity of the government,” Mr Wall concluded.

Meanwhile as CFMEU official and former Canberra Raiders star John Lomax is due to appear in court today the union’s national leadership is rallying behind him.

National CFMEU Construction secretary Dave Noonan said that Mr Lomax’s charge goes against the legal framework that has operated in Australia for over a hundred years.

“There are very clear laws pertaining to industrial matters in this country with rights and responsibilities for unions and employers,” Dave said.

“The criminal charge against Mr Lomax is unprecedented and a disgrace. It is an attempt by Tony Abbott’s Royal Commission to use criminal law in order to prosecute a union official for lawful industrial activity.

“Asking for a pay rise on behalf of workers is not a crime, but it appears that Tony Abbott wants to make it one.

“This presents grave implications for working people in Australia as any union official who campaigns for better wages and conditions could be charged with a crime.”

Mr Noonan said the CFMEU intends to fight this direct attack on the union movement’s ability to protect wages and conditions and pledges to back Mr Lomax.

“We intend to fully support Johnny Lomax, but this case reaches beyond Mr Lomax or the CFMEU. This is about every unionist in Australia who, if Tony Abbott has his way, risks a criminal charge for doing nothing other than advocate for higher wages for their members.

“Every person concerned about the democratic right and legal protection of workers to bargain for better pay and conditions should be alarmed by this case.”

UnionsACT has also joined the fray.

“Working people should be very concerned at the potential precedent that these charges pose,” said Alex White, Secretary of UnionsACT.

“Seeking to enforce an existing collective agreement, and to secure better wages and conditions, is not a crime.

“The appropriate venue for this issue to be resolved is the Fair Work Commission, and I hope the Magistrates Court quickly determines that this is a legitimate industrial matter.”

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