19/11/2008 - 22:00

Large turnout for CFMEU election

19/11/2008 - 22:00

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KEVIN Reynolds' 34-year reign as Western Australian representative to the federally registered Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union could end this week when the results of the union's election are released.

Large turnout for CFMEU election

KEVIN Reynolds' 34-year reign as Western Australian representative to the federally registered Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union could end this week when the results of the union's election are released.

Former safety adviser Darren Kavanagh has challenged Mr Reynolds at the poll, in which 40 per cent of eligible CFMEU members participated, according to one union source.

While elections for the state-registered CFMEU WA Branch and federal elections for the CFMEU are usually held concurrently, the WA Industrial Relations Commission last month suspended the state election until February 2009 after finding a string of irregularities within the two parallel unions.

"It's falling apart with technicalities," Master Builders Association of WA industrial relations manager Kim Richardson said.

Although he would not speculate on the outcome, Mr Richardson said it was possible for the defeated candidate of this week's election to win the state-registered ballot next year, in what could create a divided CFMEU operation in WA.

Although the CFMEU's parallel federal union operates from the same office as the WA branch in East Perth, both are technically separate entities with different union rules, separate membership and divided assets.

The state union under Mr Reynolds has almost $26 million in assets, including the Construction Skills Training Centre in Welshpool.

Allegations that the union secretary has run both entities as a single operation without the proper approvals from the federal Industrial Relations Commission have been the subject of a WAIRC inquiry.

There's been no shortage of enmity throughout the campaign, boiling over in June when Mr Reynolds sacked Mr Kavanagh over allegations he gained unauthorised access to a membership list and used it for his election mail out.

The legal action was later dismissed in the Supreme Court, leading Mr Reynolds to declare it was "open slather" for his team to send a barrage of information to members.

Despite allegations by Mr Kavanagh that the union's membership roll had been manipulated, and counter claims by a supporter of Mr Reynolds that the leadership challenger breached CFMEU rules by campaigning too early, the winner of the election is expected to be announced on November 21.

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