The Labor Party has been dealt a major blow with Cath Bowtell announcing she will quit the ACTU after losing in her bid for the council presidency to nurses union chief, Ged Kearney.
The Australian reports that Ms Bowtell, described by her supporters as the “brains of the operation”, will leave the ACTU in May after attempting to take the place of former ACTU president Sharan Burrow but losing to Mr Kearney.
“Clearly, I put my hand up for a job I didn’t get,” Ms Bowtell told The Australian.
“Had I got it, I wouldn’t be moving on but it’s not a dummy spit.
“I am going because I think I can make a contribution to working people or for social fairness in another space.”
Ms Bowtell was responsible for the ACTU’s Your Rights at Work campaign that many believe was responsible for shifting support towards Kevin Rudd and the Labor party in the 2007 election, bringing the party to power.
ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence expressed his regret at Ms Bowtell’s departure in an email to union members yesterday.
“As I’m sure all affiliates will agree, Cath has been an invaluable part of the ACTU team,” he said.
“She played a vital role in the development of ACTU policy and Labor Party policy, which culminated in Forward with Fairness and then the development of the Fair Work Act and other issues that we’ve pursued with the Labor government.
“As well, she has been our co-ordinator with respect to superannuation and other social and economic policy issues.”
It is not known where Ms Bowtell will be moving to post ACTU, but it is expected she will have no shortage of offers.