Response To Further Accusations On Social Media and Update Report on Rules and Policy Review

Following on from the National Council vote posted on January 5th 2017 unfortunately it is necessary to respond to further false accusation lodged through social media.

The below Australian Financial Review article was posted on Friday 6th January ’17 following an approach to this conservative newspaper from an “anonymous” MUA member. 

http://www.afr.com/news/policy/industrial-relations/maritime-union-of-australia-merger-with-cfmeu-faces-internal-opposition-20170105-gtmv7y   

On Sunday 8th January an MUA member posted a message on Facebook falsely stating that “I just read the article that a MUA spokesperson has given to the AFR. The story about the PUNCH UP is factually incorrect. What’s that old saying, “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story!”. That same member followed this post on 27th January with a private Facebook message directed to National Women’s Liaison Officer Mich-Elle Myers stating “Hello Michelle. There will be plenty of members going to the stoppies  Australia wide to hear why a Sydney Official went to the Australian Financial Review with a story that was factually incorrect. That same official will be outed as someone who wants to talk out of school. We have the evidence and if he or anyone else thinks they want to #### over members then they have another thing coming. Enjoy your weekend,”

It must be noted that whilst there was good attendance at the majority of the January Branch Monthly Meetings held around the coast on Tuesday 31st January and despite the message directed to the Woman’s Liaison Officer, there was not one accusation raised against any Sydney official at any of those meetings nor any evidence produced of any official going to the Australian Financial Review.

Again without any corroboration and with no issue raised about this matter at any Monthly Meetings, on the very next day, Wednesday 1st February a member posted this embellished accusation on Facebook;

“I can tell you exactly who spoke to the AFR. It was an Official from the Sydney Branch. What you should be asking is who are the dog ##### that are giving information to NSW Crime Commission and trying to "scapegoat" their mates or perhaps who from the Sydney Branch supplied footage of the Australia Day protests and flag burning that had occurred in Sydney to the Fairfax media”. 

In the resolution posted on the MUA website on 5th January http://www.mua.org.au/national_council_vote_response_to_accusations_on_social_media  it was highlighted the extent some people will go to attack this union and our officials. This is now further displayed by yet another baseless and rambling attack on elected MUA officials being posted on social media which the AFR article clearly shows are being scanned by the enemies of this union. 

For clarification on this matter the below is the factual sequence of events relating to the 6th January AFR article. 

On Thursday January 5th the MUA Media Department was contacted by the AFR advising that after being contacted by an anonymous MUA member with specific complaints that the reporter was going to run an article and was seeking a statement from the Union in response to the allegations. There was no way of stopping the article being published and the Union provided statements correcting the allegations made by the anonymous member through the AFR journalists. These statements are quoted in the article as being from “a MUA spokesman”. The first statementquoted was;

  • A MUA spokesperson said that "all formal meetings of the union over the past 12 months have unanimously supported the merger" this was in response to the reference in the opening line of the article that the MUA CFMEU amalgamation “may be at risk as a dissenting group of MUA members steps up a campaign against it in an upcoming vote, fearing they will be overrun by the bigger organisation” and the two statements below:
    •  “A group of MUA members have taken to social media and an MUA "rank and file" Facebook page with more than 1300 members to post broad criticism of the national leadership as well as argue the amalgamation will mean the union "loses its voice".  
    • One MUA member told The Australian Financial Review the group would campaign against the amalgamation via social media because he feared the merger would "quash dissent".

"The union amalgamations in the early 1990s showed you lose your identity [as a union]," he said. "Larger unions shut down the voices of any dissenter and smaller unions tend to be more militant unions."

The second quote was

  • A MUA spokesperson said "the union needs to guarantee a safe working environment for its officials and staff, and mitigate any potential threats in the workplace". Which was in response to questions about the incident that lead to the MUA Sussex Street offices being shut down for two days in April 2016.

These quotes were and are accurate and reflect our union policy as endorsed by national council and were issued in response to accusations aimed at a policy that has been unanimously endorsed by the MUA Quadrennial National Conference and AGMs and were issued to counter information that the reporter had already been given by his anonymous MUA member source and further garnered from scanning the MUA “rank and file” site which is cited in the article. The AFR article clearly reflects this. 

As to the article reference to “Punch Up” at Union HQ; the requirement for the Union to protect the health and safety of Officers and staff following the incident in Sydney Branch have been dealt with in the December NO Report and posting on the MUA website, http://www.mua.org.au/resolution_mua_national_council

The MUA holds rank and file meetings on the last Tuesday of every month in every MUA Branch; that is a cornerstone of our democratic process and members have every right to attend those meetings and raise any issues they want but some members have consistently derided that process on Facebook and just continue to throw up these false accusations and insulting bile. Their disdain for our process was clearly displayed when the member that posted the above accusation was fronted on the Facebook site by another member who asked why he had not attended Tuesday’s meeting to name names to go with his accusations and the eloquent response was F### YOU AND F### YOUR MEETINGS. (posted in upper case). Apparently it is okay in Facebook land to post as many baseless allegations and the most vile personal attacks on officials and their families as they want but not okay to be asked to back up any of those accusations.

REVIEW UPDATE  

As advised in the Resolution posted on the MUA website on 23rd December 2016 the Union is in the process of looking at how our rules and policies can best deal with the increasing misuse of social media: http://www.mua.org.au/resolution_mua_national_council 

An inspection of the Union Rules resolves that although social media is not specifically referred to the Rules are sufficient for dealing with these social media matters.

The Union Bullying and Harassment Policy is to be updated to include a Social Media clause. 

It is unfortunate that the Union finds itself expending time and assets in dealing with these matters however this union will not continue to accept this type of anti-union attack on the union generally nor on the elected officials or officers.