Previous research reveals that failure to resolve intra-union conflict may lead to the emergence of breakaways. Drawing on evidence from the Australian entertainment industry, this study examines the more unusual case of an attempt to secede by elements of the leadership (rather than membership) from the Australian Theatrical and Amusement Employees Association. Following secession, the breakaway group merged with a different union. The paper argues that the country's system of industrial relations shaped the form of the breakaway and ultimately provided the legal vehicle for the disaffected group to split from its parent union. It further shows how union breakaways are not necessarily caused by union merger activity although it often appears that they are.