Another week, another corrupt union delegate…allegedly.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) was always on the nose, because it absorbed some of the former leadership of the Builders’ Labourers’ Federation (BLF), a group steeped in corruption and criminal activity.
There’s no ‘allegedly’ in that.
Yesterday, the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption recommended that CFMEU NSW Secretary, Brian Parker, be referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for criminal charges over his standover tactics as a union delegate.
Union Thug (business as usual) Brian Parker – “what seems to be da problem?” (Source: ABC, June 9, 2015)
In the interests of fair reporting we summarise media reports from the ABC and Sydney Morning Herald about the Royal Commission proceedings of June 9, 2015:
Parker is accused by the Royal Commission of engaging in “gross mis-behaviour” and “grossly neglecting his duty” when he allegedly demanded executives at construction industry superannuation fund CBus (industry superannuation) to obtain members’ personal details, and who allegedly “wanted the information to cause employees of Lis-Con construction company to be personally contacted to make trouble with their employer”.
Otherwise, it’s called thuggery, allegedly.
Read More from the ABC: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-09/cfmeu-nsw-secretary-brian-parker-steps-aside/6533786
Last November, another CFMEU thug, one Darren Greenfield, was accused by the Royal Commission of allegedly making a death threat against a former colleague. The royal commission heard that on March 27, 2014 Darren Greenfield made a “violent and abusive” telephone call to Mr Brian Fitzpatrick, threatening to kill him.
Darren Greenfield allegedly made death threats
Counsel assisting Jeremy Stoljar had said the elements of the criminal offence of using a phone to make a death threat, with a penalty of seven years in jail, “appear to have been made out”. Even the lesser offence of ‘causing a menace’ attracts a penalty of three years in gaol.
At the same time, according to the Royal Commission, CFMEU NSW Secretary, Brian Parker, allegedly was aware of the threats but instead of investigating Fitzpatrick’s accusations, Parker was behind stand over tactics to marginalise Fitzpatrick as a whistleblower making Fitzpatrick allegedly the subject of repeated attempts to remove him from the union because he was prepared to speak out about his concerns in respect of the union’s questionable behaviour.
Read More from the Sydney Morning Herald: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/cfmeus-brian-parker-called-union-official-a-dog-in-phone-call-royal-commission-hears-20141003-10pp37.html
The submission said that both CFMEU NSW Secretary Brian Parker and NSW President Rita Mallia had both “shied away from carrying out any rigorous or comprehensive investigation into the incident, avoided arriving at any properly considered conclusion, and generally sought to whitewash the incident rather than discipline Mr Greenfield appropriately”.
CFMEU NSW President Rita Mallia (Source: Sydney Morning Herald)
“The fact Mr Greenfield has given quite inconsistent accounts of the conversation at different times counts against the credibility of his evidence.”
“Ms Mallia and Mr Parker’s failure to take any appropriate action in response to Mr Fitzpatrick’s complaints about the (alleged) death threat incident represented a dereliction of their duties as union officials, and fell short of the professional standards expected of them as officers of the CFMEU.”
At the time, the CFMEU was “engaged in an aggressive national campaign against Lis-Con” over unpaid entitlements, the report said.
“In his view, upsetting Lis-Con employees would have the maximum adverse effect on Lis-Con.”
Greenfield’s alleged death threat was made after Fitzpatrick had raised concerns about the union’s dealings with construction industry underworld figure George Alex.
George Alex (right) with arab standover man Bilal Fatrouni – an imported Comanchero bikie and convicted criminal
Crime figure George Alex’s business affairs are deeply entwined with known bikie and organised crime networks. A company known as Active Labour, controlled by Alex has been supplying contract labour to James Packer’s building site at Barangaroo with the knowledge and support of senior figures within the NSW branch of the building workers’ union, the CFMEU.
Read More from the Sydney Morning Herald: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/george-alex-summonsed-to-appear-before-royal-commission-on-trade-unions-20140925-10lwnv.html
Joe Antoun, a standover man who worked in the building industry, was Mr Alex’s right-hand man until he was shot dead in front of his family in Strathfield last year.
Each year the union raises about $20 million in membership fees. Ten years ago the CFMEU had net assets of $71.2 million. By the end of 2010 this had fallen to just under $52 million.
No wonder it attracts criminals.
And if you thank that’s bad, CFMEU boss Dave Noonan, doesn’t like us in this article reporting on his union’s heavy handedness, so he’s done a James Hutchings and sent in his legal mob to threaten Australia Firsters with legal action. Dave son, we’re only reporting what the Royal Commission is finding and the media is reporting.
Here’s the CFMEU’s legal threat to us:
Not happy Dave Noonan, (image courtesy of the ABC, so threaten them too)
According to ABC Radio’s AM programme aired December 20, 2014:
“The royal commission’s interim report, released yesterday, has called for authorities to consider charges against CFMEU officials for various acts of intimidation and coercion including blackmail.”
In 2012, the CFMEU was fined $1.25 million for contempt of court and for illegal blockades at the Grocon Emporium site in Melbourne’s CBD and at two other Grocon sites. The union had organised a four-day protest, in defiance of a court order.
The CFMEU was found guilty of contempt by the Federal Court over blockading the Bald Hills Wind Farm Project with cars and barbeque trailers for about eight hours on April 15, 2014 and fined it $125,000. The Federal Court said “the CFMEU is to be regarded as a recidivist”. It also said: “The overwhelming inference is that the CFMEU, not for the first time, decided that its wishes should prevail over the interests of the companies and that this end justified the means.”
In April 2015, the Federal Court fined the CFMEU, its Victorian Assistant Secretary Shaun Reardon and former official Danny Berardi $43,000, for attempting to coerce a head contractor into signing an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU. In his penalty judgment, Justice Tracey said of the CFMEU: “The present conduct of one of its officials adds to this depressing litany of misbehavior. It evidences an ongoing disregard for the rule of law and highlights the need for the imposition of meaningful penalties within the limits imposed by the Act.”
When the head contractor of the apartment complex development in Hawthorn, Victoria, told Mr Berardi they would not be signing an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU, Mr Berardi replied: “Well, you’ll be f***ed. I’ll blockade all your sites.”
The CFMEU was fined $45,000 for sacking a Pilbara mining union organiser Muhammed Sayed, in 2013 for criticising the union. It came after former Australian Workers Union leader Paul Howes complained that Sayed was a “Trot” (Trotskyite) who was criticising the union.
The CFMEU is just a rebranded BLF, the old Builders Labourers Federation, a militant trade union based in Melbourne that was led by notorious Norm Gallagher in the 1970s.
The BLF was closely aligned with Maoists and the Communist Party of Australia (Leninist-Marxist), with Melbourne’s communist radio station 3CR and the Labor Left. The BLF was similarly investigated by a Royal Commission into union corruption in the 1980s and BLF Federal Secretary Norm Gallagher was gaoled for corrupt dealings after receiving bribes from building companies which he used to build a beach house.
The Hawke government finally de-registered the BLF in 1985. But the BLF was absorbed into a super amalgamated union, the CFMEU, which has simply emulated the BLF of old. Just like the BLF slogan is Dare to struggle, Dare to win,so too is the CFMEU.
The Queensland BLF still functions and is aligned to Labor’s Unity faction (or the ‘Old Guard’). It is currently branded the Australian Building Construction Employees and Builders’ Labourers’ Federation (Queensland Branch). It is part of the Construction division of the CFMEU.
The CFMEU was formed in the 1990s when there was a push to rationalise the number of unions.’
On March 30, 2001 the CFMEU was fined $200,000 for contempt of court, plus costs, for deliberately not complying with an order to stop industrial action at a BHP coal mine.
In 2003, the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry said the CFMEU had contempt for the law and that there was a powerful case for cancelling the registration of the union. It stopped short of recommending de-registration, saying individuals were at fault.
Former CFMEU national secretary John Maitland was branded “corrupt” by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption following an investigation in 2013 into Hunter Valley mining deals involving the former state government minister Ian Macdonald. Maitland made $15 million from the granting of mining licenses without tender, but the deals were subsequently torn up by the O’Farrell Government.
Joe McDonald, from the CFMEU’s Western Australia branch, has cost the union more than $1 million in fines over the last 8 years. In December 2013, McDonald and the CFMEU were fined $193,600 over an incident in February at a mining site in the Pilbara region. In 2007 McDonald was expelled from the ALP over video footage of him abusing someone who asked him to leave a work site.
The union was fined $115,000 in May 2013 after the Fair Work Building Inspectorate took them to the Federal Court over illegal work bans to get a sacked NSW union delegate reinstated.
When building firm St Hilliers made Warren Whitney redundant from a Gosford building site in 2011, the union imposed work stoppages on five St Hillier sites across the ACT and Victoria until Whitney was reinstated.
In May 2014, Australia First Party demonstrates in Brisbane in support of Greece’s Golden Dawn political prisoners. The rally was ambushed by anarchists with heavy CFMEU thugs coordinated by Joe Myles who has been charged with various offences.
Royal Commission interim report released
Senator Abetz [leader of the government in the Senate]: “Norman Meyer, who was videotaped going into the private residence of the vice-president of the MBA [Master Builders Association] is the same Norman Meyer who was photographed marching next to the assistant secretary of the CFMEU while wearing a CFMEU jacket.”
Cameron: “What does that prove?”
What this exchange proves is that Senator Cameron is loyal to a fault. He can see no problem with a CFMEU official consorting with bikies while being willing to ask hundreds of questions, in pointillist detail, questioning the accuracy and motives of senior corruption-fighting officials.
Throughout the royal commission, the CFMEU made unsubstantiated accusations against every whistle-blower who gave evidence.
The highlights of the evidence to the commission include numerous colourful details about the CFMEU. Here are but a few:
CFMEU officials Brian Parker and Darren Greenfield associated with underworld crimes figures George Alex (whose companies paid kickbacks to the union), Comanchero enforcer Bilal Fatrouni, underworld figure Vasko Boskovski, career criminal Joe Antoun (recently murdered) and infamous Islamic state convert Khaled Sharrouf.
Telephone intercepts record Parker saying: “I just got to stop myself f***ing bashing f***ing the other bloke today… I said you’ve never seen me unleashed…”
Assistant Commissioner Fontana testified: “Victoria Police… intelligence indicates that trade union [CFMEU] officials use outlaw motorcycle gangs to engage in activity on their behalf and they often commit serious crime to execute these activities”.
One conspicuous witness was the chief executive of Boral, Mike Kane, who said: “On construction sites in Melbourne the law doesn’t apply, the law is determined by the CFMEU… In Melbourne, on high rise construction projects, the law as it stands is largely an impotent observer to the behaviour of thugs, cowards and bullies.”
He was quickly smeared in a press release from CFMEU national secretary Dave Noonan saying Kane wanted a US system where workers had fewer rights.
The construction industry super fund, Cbus, has been complicit, leaking the private details of more than 300 construction workers to the CFMEU, which then contacted, intimidated and threatened various construction workers.
A Cbus co-ordinator, Lisa Zanetta, was presented with proof that she had assisted the CFMEU. She then admitted that her earlier evidence had been “an absolute lie”.
Inevitably, the notoriously aggressive Victorian secretary of the CFMEU, John Setka, made an appearance in evidence. His most lively quote put before the commission was about a concreter, Paul Costa, who had the misfortune to be related to the Gallo family, despised by Setka: “I hate the c***. I’m going to come down there, rip his head off, shit down his throat and bury his head next to Ned Kelly’s”.
Setka denied making threats. He said he merely used colourful language.
The shadowy world of union financing, Grace Collier, The Australian, 13/122014
IF it weren’t for help from the business community, unions in this country would hardly exist. And if it weren’t for help from unions and governments, employer groups would hardly exist. If our authorities weren’t failing to enforce the law, union-employer corruption would hardly exist.
From Monday, when the royal commission into trade unions’ interim report is handed down, we may find out what the government will do about all this.
In Australia, union membership has been sinking like a stone. This is not surprising; do you have any idea how hard it is to ask someone to join a union? Imagine you are an employee, on your break, eating lunch. A complete stranger interrupts: “Hi, I’m a union official. Want to join the union? Please sign this direct debit form. We can take fees directly out of your bank account.” How do you think you may respond? “Uh, no thanks. By the way, say g’day to Craig Thomson for me?”
Recent scandals aside, unions realised decades ago membership rates were in decline. Many know that to survive they need the help of employers, or at least their money, and they often co-opt and reward business groups to facilitate this help.
The person best placed to make workers join a union is the employer. People fill out all sorts of forms when they start work; it fits that a union membership form is part of the document bundle. Some large employers help unions in this way; for example, the “shoppies union” would be lost without key employers. In return, the shoppies provide assistance to keep these same employers protected from competition.
Some unions convince employers to force their employees into the union. Some employers even join employees up without their knowledge, by simply paying union fees on their behalf directly to the union official. The employer always gets something in return — an agreement offering lower wages or perhaps just the peace of mind of knowing that workers are in a weak union while a militant union is shut out.
As membership numbers wither so, too, does union income, which must be replaced. For some unions recruitment is no longer the focus — an alternative income stream is. Here is where the private sector is ripe with opportunity.
The royal commission into unions represents the first detailed examination of these alternative income streams.
There are broadly seven types:
1. Industry superannuation funds. These provide employment for both union and employer group people. There are questions over the fees, conflicts of interest and lack of skill, but the industry points to its record of high performance. However, they have unions and many employers practically forcing people to join. How hard is it to fail?
2. Union-owned financial businesses. Employers agree via enterprise bargaining to push employees into or buy on behalf of employees financial services such as income protection. Kickbacks are paid to the union or other entities. Employer group people often sit on the boards of these businesses, giving them legitimacy.
3. Union-owned training funds. Employers agree via enterprise bargaining or other industry-wide arrangements to pay into these. Blue cards, white cards, forklift licences and so on. Silly, unnecessary and overpriced “training” is delivered to people who don’t need it. Often government money is tipped in. This money can be funnelled back to unions and employer groups. Further, these firms provide jobs for officials who’ve done their time in the union.
4. Bogus union-owned “training funds” or “charities”. Employers pay bribes and on paper invoices are generated for “training” or “charity donations”, but it is really about industrial peace. Paying for industrial peace is a much misunderstood expression. It actually means paying a weak union to have a presence to keep a strong union out. It does not mean paying unions not to strike.
5. Political slush funds. This is where corporate Australia really delivers for the unions. These entities are often established by unions as incorporated associations (Transport 2020) or companies (Industry 2020, McLean Forum) and their true purpose is vague. Big names pay thousands to attend lunches headlined by Labor politicians. When corporate Australia participates, all they do is fund the ALP, waste shareholder money and make business conditions harder for all.
6. Undocumented entities. These are not established as incorporated associations or companies, meaning there is no paper trail. They often exist as “the slush fund behind the slush fund”. Nobody really knows where this money goes.
7. Cash entities. Employers and even workers make cash payments direct to union officials. There is no reporting of the use of such funds. For example, workers put funds into a union “community fund” that makes donations to charity. However, donations are only a small proportion of the funds received, and no one knows what happens to the rest.”
CFMEU violence against Australian nationalists in Brisbane, May 2014
Additional fair reporting on the matter from media reports:
The Age, Dec 19, 2014: “Royal commission takes aim at CFMEU, recommends charges against senior officials“
SMH, Apr 23,2015: “Royal commission seeks access to 80,000 building workers’ details“
ABC, Sep 2, 2014: “Trade union royal commission: CFMEU official taped ‘abusing’ Fair Work inspector“
The Courier-Mail, Aug 01, 2014: “CFMEU allegedly destroyed Lis-Con’s business in Queensland, royal commission will hear“
Herald-Sun, Dec 19, 2014: “Royal Commission interim report recommends charges against CFMEU, AWU, HSU officials“
Thugs are slow learners (Image by ABC, so threaten them too)