John Setka, the Victorian secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), says he will retire within the next six months. 

His declaration was made amidst a politically charged backdrop.

The Labor and Greens parties united in the Senate to thwart the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union's (TCFU) bid to sever ties with the CFMEU - a merger that took place in 2018 but has since soured due to concerns surrounding Mr Setka's leadership.

Setka, who has carved out a reputation as both the most influential and divisive figure within the CFMEU over the last decade, found his leadership under siege not only from external political forces but also from within the union's own ranks. 

The TCFU's push for independence was reportedly driven by what was described by Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie as “intimidating behaviour” by Setka towards TCFU officials, leading to a highly charged and uncomfortable working environment. 

The union's distress led Jenny Kruschel, the TCFU's secretary, to call for the relocation of their division due to the untenable atmosphere.

The discord within the CFMEU and its affiliated unions reached the federal political arena, where Senator Lambie's advocacy for the TCFU's autonomy underscored the broader implications of Setka's leadership style. 

Despite her efforts, and a passionate plea that slammed the Labor and Greens parties for their perceived failure to protect the rights and well-being of female union members, the bid to facilitate the TCFU's departure was ultimately unsuccessful.

In the wake of these events, Setka announced his impending retirement at a union delegates meeting, signalling an end to his controversial tenure. 

While a spokesperson for the union confirmed his departure, the focus has now shifted to his potential successors, with Derek Christopher and Joe Myles emerging as key figures in the ensuing leadership contest.

Setka's tenure has been marred by allegations of domestic violence and intimidation, casting a long shadow over his leadership and the CFMEU's public image. 

His conviction for harassing his then-wife, coupled with various allegations of misconduct, has ignited debates about accountability and the role of leadership in fostering a culture of respect and integrity within the labour movement.