Thousands of CFMEU members and other unions have rallied to defend two Vic officials charged with criminal blackmail by the federal government’s Royal Commission into Trade Unions Taskforce.
State secretary John Setka and deputy Shaun Reardon have been charged with blackmailing concrete supplier Boral, in an alleged bid to put pressure on construction giant Grocon, with which the union had an ongoing battle.
CFMEU national construction secretary Dave Noonan said the charges amounted to criminalisation of unions' work.
"Industrial relations (disputes) ought not to be treated as a criminal behaviour". “The charges amounted to prosecuting trade union officials for doing their job". "Dealing with wages and conditions of workers is not criminality, unionism is not criminality," he said.
Setka and Reardon would not be found guilty, he told the rally. "They have been involved in an industrial dispute," Mr Noonan said. "That's what happens in unions."