After a meeting in Melbourne on Thursday the ACTU secretary Sally McManus publicly called on embattled union leader John Setka to resign in the interests of the union movement, a request he is refusing.
McManus returned from a conference in Switzerland early to confront Setka and after the meeting explained her position.
“So the point I made to John in what was a lengthy meeting was that he also needs to think about, not just his members, but all union members,” she said. “Because when the behaviour of one of us can affect all of us … that is the current situation that we face.”
— RN Drive (@RNDrive) June 13, 2019
McManus was clear that her position was “unrelated” to the comments Setka is alleged to have made about Rosie Batty and was rather based “a whole range of issues” including the criminal charges he is reportedly facing.
“He said he is going to plead guilty to at least one of them. That is concerning. Having said that, the court process is still happening.
“Our point is this – we don’t condone domestic violence and not only do we not condone it, we will stand against it.”
Shortly afterwards Setka tweeted he had no intention of resigning. The CFMEU then doubled down and publicly confirmed Setka has their full support.
McManus remains hopeful he will change his mind.
“I think he has got new information to think about,” she said after their meeting. “I went through all of the issues, the effect it was having on the whole trade union movement and I think that he wasn’t fully across all of these issues and I would like him to think about that.”
“For us, it is the whole situation (of his behaviour) … it is difficult for me because all these matters are before the courts and I am bound by the laws around that,” she said.
Later on Thursday the powerful union boss released an unambiguous statement explaining the ACTU’s position regarding Setka.
— Australian Unions (@unionsaustralia) June 13, 2019
“I have consulted a wide range of union leaders and they share this view [that Setka ought to resign]. There are several matters currently before the court. If media reports are correct the allegations John is facing are serious.
I also note that yesterday John said he would plead guilty to charges of harassing a woman using a carriage service.
“I have previously said if these allegations are correct, they are totally unacceptable. There is no place for perpetrators of domestic violence in leadership positions in our movement.”
This was a statement of moral clarity by Sally McManus: John Setka must go https://t.co/Bcu5tSVKpU
— Miki Perkins (@perkinsmiki) June 13, 2019
It is clear Setka isn’t going anywhere without a fight: that much has been obvious for a long time. What is now also clear is that the ACTU under Sally McManus’s leadership is willing and motivated to take that fight on.