CFMMEU Leader Calls For National Cost of Living Fightback

Banner at the CFMMEU rally, Perth May 9, 2023

By Barry Healy

On May 9, Christy Cain, national secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) called for a nationally coordinated fightback spearheaded by blue-collar unions to achieve decent cost-of-living wage rises. The CFMMEU is the main national trade union in construction, forestry, maritime, mining, energy, textile, clothing and footwear production.

Cain was addressing a militant rally of 300 construction members in Perth CBD protesting about the rising cost of living. Construction workers used their lunch breaks to attend the demonstration.

Leaders of the Electrical Trades Union and the Transport Workers Unions also spoke, as did the CFMEU WA state secretary, Mick Buckan and national construction and general branch secretary, Zach Smith. They all slammed the Reserve Bank of Australia for continually raising interest rates using inflation as an excuse.

Corporate profits are the source of inflation, the rally was told.

Cain said that ordinary workers can no longer cope with inflation and that employers are refusing to agree to wage rises to match cost of living increases.

“For too long there have been continual interest rate hikes,” he said. “For eleven out of the last twelve months the rates have gone up.”

“Working class households need three people to be working just to put food on the table after they’ve paid their mortgages.”

He said that he was going to take a proposal to the CFMMEU leadership to initiate a combined union response.

“We need to get together with all blue-collar unions and white-collar unions, including the nurses and teachers and all put in a proper wage claim. Massive profits are being made off the backs of workers. It’s our turn for a decent wage rise.”

“We should all look to what’s happening in France and the UK.”

Pointing up to the high-rise buildings that line St Georges Terrace, which house the boardrooms of Western Australia’s major corporations he said: “It’s only when we start to hurt them that they will start to listen!”

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