John Setka

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John Setka
Victorian Secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union
Assumed office
Personal details
BornMelbourne, Australia
OccupationCFMMEU state secretary

John Setka is an Australian trade unionist. He is the Victorian state secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union and is known for his militant approach to industrial action.[1]


John Setka was born to a Croatian labourer Bob Setka. Bob was among the few labourers who survived West Gate Bridge collapse in 1970, a tragedy caused by improper structural design which killed 35 workers.[2]

Setka began working as a labourer at the age of 19, where he began being involved with trade union movement under the Builders Labourers Federation.[3] While in the BLF, he was mentored by the Victorian state secretary of the union John Cummins.[3]

Union leadership (2012–Present)[edit]

Setka's approach to industrial action has been controversial due to the "pervasive power of the CFMEU over construction companies".[4] In 2012, following criticisms, he unsuccessfully attempted to sue the then opposition leader Tony Abbott for "allegedly implying he is a union thug".[5]

In 2015, Setka encouraged workers within the Rail, Tram and Bus Union to strike during the Australian Football League finals to "use finals fever to their advantage in their bitter industrial fight with Metro Trains and Yarra Trams".[6] The decision was criticised by Victorian Labor minister Jacinta Allan due the strike's impact on businesses.[6]

At a Labor Party conference in 2018, Setka criticised the former prime minister Kevin Rudd stating ""he's one of the worst f----g Labor PMs we've ever had" as "he kept the ABCC and coercive powers and he wants to talk about workers and the trade union movement. F---g shit talker."[7]

In June 2019, the Australian Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese proposed to expel Setka over alleged comments against "anti-violence campaigner Rosie Batty".[8] The following day, Setka objected to any attempt to remove him from his position, stating that there was "dirty politics at work" due to his "view of where the union should be in regards to the ALP, and some people probably don't share that view".[9]


  1. ^ "John Setka". CFMEU Victoria & Tasmania. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  2. ^ Carey, Adam (15 October 2010). "Forty years on, the West Gate Bridge collapse still looms large". The Age. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b "John Setka: Who dares wins". Australian Financial Review. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  4. ^ Ferguson, John. "Rap sheet reveals 60 charges for would-be union boss John Setka". The Australian. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b "Melbourne train strike: Metro staff urged to create mayhem for AFL finals series". The Age. 4 September 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  7. ^ "Bill Shorten calls for healing from Rudd-Gillard leadership wars". Australian Financial Review. 18 December 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  8. ^ "'John Setka does not belong in our party': Anthony Albanese moves on union boss". ABC News. 11 June 2019. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  9. ^ "'There's no reason for me to resign': Union boss defies calls to quit". ABC News. 12 June 2019. Retrieved 12 June 2019.

External links[edit]