THE CFMEU has a fight on its hands and it's not against a big mining company: This time, against its own staff who have applied to strike over a pay dispute.
On Thursday, the vocal union will be in front of the Fair Work Commission, arguing against 15 of its own workers about their proposed enterprise agreement.
It is a reversal of positions for the Queensland, Energy and Coal division which is usually fighting for workers' rights, as it is currently at the Oaky North picket line, where 190 workers have been locked out.
But after six months of negotiations the union representing the 15 CFMEU employees had to "apply some industrial action pressure", said Australian Services Union branch secretary Neil Henderson.
Mr Henderson said his union applied to carry out industrial ballot action through the Fair Work Commission and both parties would appear for a hearing at 10am on Thursday.
He said the two parties had been negotiating over pay for the workers from Mackay, Moranbah, Moura and Brisbane. But so far he hadn't come to an agreement with CFMEU branch secretary Stephen Smyth.
It is believed the staff want a 1.5% pay rise, in contrast the CFMEU are trying to negotiate a 3% pay rise for protesting Oaky North miners.
"Stephen is a tough negotiator and unionist, and someone I respect a lot," Mr Henderson said.
"He approaches it with professionalism.
"We're representing our members' interest and he is representing his members' interest but with all that good will in the room you would think it would get done."
Which is a different sense of optimism compared to Mr Smyth's other opponent Glencore, the owner of the Oaky North Mine.
Glencore recently took out a full-page ad in the Daily Mercury claiming the actions of the CFMEU QLD Energy and Mining Division has engaged in "verbal abuse, trespass and vehicle blocking at the mine".
"We have also had reported instances of picketers making physical threats, including simulated throat cutting and/or crude sexual gestures, toward vehicles and their drivers," the advertisement reads.
CFMEU Qld Energy and Mining branch secretary Stephen Smyth was approached for comment but did not respond.
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