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Winners and losers: Unions who took biggest hits in 2020

One of Queensland's powerful unions suffered a significant hit to its membership while others recorded mammoth uptakes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost 1200 people left the Electrical Trades Union in Queensland during the 2019-20 financial year, while 372 left the CFMEU.

However the Queensland Nurses and Midwives' Union welcomed 3137 new members - the largest increase of all unions in Queensland.

The SDA, which is still on a holiday from Labor's Right Faction, recorded the second biggest increase with 1603 people signing up.

Members of Electrical Trades Union are seen during the annual Labour Day march in Brisbane. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
Members of Electrical Trades Union are seen during the annual Labour Day march in Brisbane. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

Queensland Council of Unions general secretary Michael Clifford said the ETU's membership increased for the 2020 calendar year.

"In the middle of this pandemic when jobs were being cut in a range of industries, not only have Queensland unions held the line but most unions reported an increase in membership," he said.

"Clearly people aren't walking away from unions - in fact the figures demonstrate an increase in the number of union members, despite declining employment in many areas for the same period."

He said the cyclical nature of the construction industry meant that construction industry unions' membership figures rise and fell with employment.

"For example, between June 2017 and June 2018, membership of the ETU increased by 23.8 per cent," he said.

The figures were revealed in the President of the Industrial Court of Queensland annual report for 2019-20 this week, which showed statewide membership grew by 7840 to 353,784 at June 30 last year.

The Queensland Teachers' Union, the Together Union and the Queensland Services Industrial Union grew by 1262, 1374 and 1117 respectively during 2019-20.

SDA state secretary Chris Gazenbeek said following a difficult year, more frontline essential workers joined the union for increased job security and for assistance with COVID related workplace issues.

The SDA's Queensland membership was up by 10 per cent at the end of 2020 to almost 35,000 members - its largest increase since 2013.

"It's great to see the union movement grow by almost 8,000 members in Queensland in such challenging circumstances although some sectors continue to find it tough," he said.

Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union Secretary Beth Mohle. Picture: AAP Image/Claudia Baxter
Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union Secretary Beth Mohle. Picture: AAP Image/Claudia Baxter

QNMU secretary Beth Mohle said the union continued to campaign for the working conditions and rights of Queensland's nurses, midwives and those they care for.

"We know what is important to our members and we work hard to ensure we are relevant and responsive," she said.

"The QNMU's ongoing growth reflects our members' belief in and support of this commitment."

 

Originally published as Winners and losers: Unions who took biggest hits in 2020


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