A clear majority of CWU members has rejected a change to the union’s rules that would have allowed individual branches to leave the Communications Division and merge with another Division of the larger Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU).
Members voted down the proposed rule change by approximately 2 to 1. The official report from the returning officer, issued 1 July, shows that 3318 of a total 5342 valid votes (i.e. 63%) were cast against the proposal.
The original amalgamation between the three unions that make up the CEPU – Communications, Electrical and Plumbing – was based on a degree of independence between the different divisions, each with its distinct membership.
The idea was that members of these different divisions would continue to have their own elected officials who were answerable to them and knew their industry.
This arrangement could only be changed if all members of a Division voted to amalgamate with another one – not on a branch by branch basis.
The supporters of the rule change argued that branches should have the right to make such decisions for themselves, reflecting their particular needs and circumstances. The opponents said the rule change opened the way for the Communications Division to be pulled apart, bit by bit.
CWU Divisional Secretary, Dan Dwyer, said the vote in the plebiscite showed that CWU members wanted an independent union that could defend their particular interests as communication workers.