Are Unions Still for Members?

The behaviour of some in the union movement makes me wonder what else is going on that we don't know about.

Are Unions Still for Members?

What is it with the union movement in this country.

It seems to have moved away from sticking up for workers to simply being ALP campaign machines and personal fiefdoms for the union aristocracy and their preferred apparatchiks.

This morning’s Australian newspaper has a splash with former health Services Union boss inheriting millions of dollars after declaring bankruptcy after admitting fraud of union member funds.

Then there is story of Australia’s highest paid union leader – United Firefighters Union’s Peter Marshall. He gets paid $470,280 per year. Not quite as much as the Prime Minister but it’s still a pretty impressive pay packet to represent the 4031 UFU members.

Each of those members tip in $1350 per year to fund the 12 employees and more than $2m salary bill of Mr Marshall’s empire. There’s also a ‘litigation levy’,, which at one stage was an extra $520 per year per member.

The UFU clearly has a healthy social scene with $770K spent on ‘social committee expenses” in 2019-20.

With assets of $9.1m, the UFU is a minnow among the financial titans of the Union movement but it certainly likes to keep things operationally in house.

The union website was designed by Mr Marshalls brother at the cost of $77,000. Tellingly, the national UFU website, has a litany of 404 error pages which makes me think that may only have been the first instalment in an ongoing service arrangement. You can call me cynical if you like.

My point is this.  The governance arrangements of some unions is clearly not up to scratch.

These are substantial organisations, dealing with multi million dollar budgets and millions of dollars in assets. They don’t pay tax, many seem to scarcely represent their members – sometimes trading away workers rights in exchange for union memberships.

It’s wrong. I say that not because I am anti-union but because it appears they have lost their way. Too often, the Union no longer seems to be about the workers but how much of the workers money the union powerbrokers can use for themselves and their cronies.

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