Once upon a time they looked after workers’ pay and conditions. Rising through the ranks, they were dedicated and they fought hard for the members. But today’s typical union boss no longer comes from the shop floor. These positions have been cornered by the elites.
Despite a massive fall in membership there are now twice as many union bosses as in 1975. The ratio of bosses to members is five times that of Britain’s.
They are very well rewarded, these bosses. And not just in their wages. They can look forward to being life-time beneficiaries of that well known rort, “jobs for the boys”. You name it, jobs on government boards, jobs on commissions, seats in parliament, with of course, generous taxpayer funded superannuation - their political friends, the party machines and the factions will ensure these generous benefits will be accessible.
In the meantime we’ve seen complaints that union funds are being diverted to pay for such things as holidays for friends and relatives, private school fees and even for prostitutes. There are claims that contracts for, say, the union’s newsletter, are being awarded to mates at massively over-the-top prices. The condition is that the mate pay the union boss a generous commission. They keep it secret of course - if this sleazy deal were made public they would probably all end up in gaol.
This is nothing compared with the rivers of gold about to flow into the deep pockets of the union bosses. They are getting their hands on workers’ superannuation, with government decreeing that the employers will soon be paying 12% of wages by way of superannuation. By 2025, industry funds are expected to control assets of $1.5 trillion. Should anyone be surprised that proposals these funds be subject to the same transparency rules which apply to public companies have been vigorously resisted?
In America this scandal would merit a series of grand jury investigations. In Britain there'd be a Royal Commission. But in this country, the government has given us Fair Work Australia, showing their contempt for public opinion by loading it down with ex-union bosses. Investigating one, simple, straight forward case concerning a sitting politician - Craig Thomson MP - has taken Fair Work Australia longer than the Korean War. They’ve even refused to cooperate with the state police.
The role and function of the union bosses, favoured as they are by government, must be investigated. As a first step, Fair Work Australia must properly conclude its investigation into allegations against Craig Thomson MP, and co-operate fully with other law enforcement authorities. What is necessary above all is a Royal Commission under the most eminent and respected lawyers into all aspects of this shocking scandal, including the role and function of Fair Work Australia.