…from the quill of Antisthenes
As tempting as it may be to write about the Craig Thomson affair, I shall refrain. After all, what do I know about the nitty-gritty details of the relentless struggle for workers rights by intrepid union officials? I turned instead to the press; and first I found Grace Collier writing in today’s The Australian:
“…the misappropriation and theft of union members funds are sadly routine occurrences in parts of the union movement. Even Fair Work Australia seems to find it hard to get energised on the matter. Although it has been investigating the Thomson allegations, which he vehemently denies, for two years, no outcome has been achieved. This failure to provide timely answers to union members about what happened to such large sums of money suggests they should not be the body responsible for policing the financial conduct of unions.
Annually, well over $1.3 billion of members’ money is given to Australian unions. The spending of that money is left entirely to the discretion of a small group of union secretaries who operate in a largely unregulated financial setting. Of course, not every union boss is a thief, but the system is just too open to abuse and it’s far too easy to stray without fear of discovery.”
“Norm Gallagher, the Secretary of the Builders’ Labourers Federation, and professed champion of the workers, had feathered his own nest to the tune of $100,000, a Royal Commission into the Federation was told today. The counsel assisting the Commission, Peter O’Callaghan, QC, said property developers paid for work worth about $100,000 on beach houses for Mr Gallagher and his son. The Commission is inquiring into whether the union or any part of it has been used for illegal, improper or corrupt purposes, and whether any officials have demanded or received rewards beyond normal duties.”
I hope it all ends well, not as usual.