The CFMEU is about to get another 'M' after the Fair Work Commission approved a merger of three of Australia's most prominent unions.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA), and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) will become one union when they formally amalgamate.

The super-union will become the CFMMEU, with “Maritime” added to the name from March 27.

The textiles union will fold into the new organisation as a division.

“It’s time for big business to stop riding on the coat-tails of everyday working Australians, time the banks stopped ripping people off, and time for every business in this country to pay tax,” CFMEU secretary Michael O’Connor, who will also be secretary of the new organisation, said on Tuesday.

“We are absolutely committed to a change of government, to changing the rules to restore balance and fairness into our communities, and to growing our movement.”

TCFUA secretary Michele O’Neil said big businesses and governments should start preparing to pay better wages and increase job security.

“Ordinary workers now have a powerful new force for change on their side,” she said.

The federal government had warned in 2017 the merger would create “industrial chaos”, but legislation it introduced trying to apply a public interest test to mergers didn’t get past the Senate.

Former MUA boss Paddy Crumlin, the international president of the new union, said it represented a renewal of the movement.

“Wherever there is a need to defend the interests of Australian workers, we will be there with them in their workplaces and communities,” he said.


* Expected membership of 144,000, just over one per cent of Australia’s workforce

* Likely to have hundreds of millions of dollars in assets, mainly thanks to the maritime and mining divisions

* Deep war chest for legal battles and paying fines

* CFMEU has been fined millions of dollars for breaching workplace laws

* Unions officially amalgamate on March 27

* New union will be the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU)

* Union bosses say it will push for better wages and more accountability from corporations

* Business groups say it will be a “disaster” because the two unions have a history of lawlessness

* Union says current laws restrict workers’ rights and reform is needed.