Compared to Craig Thomson, this HSU boss was a real pro
Normally you have to delve pretty deep into a report to find the gritty stuff, whether it’s a Federal Budget or a report by a well known QC into years of shonky business dealings by the boss of a major union.
In the case of the Temby Report into the Health Service Union’s East branch, you need only to read as far as page three. There you will find some recommendations which would be laughable if they weren’t so serious.
In point 8 (i), Mt Temby suggests in his most restrained legalese, that it might be useful for the union to obtain at least two prices before it procures any goods or services. Mr Temby goes on to state that it’d be a good idea to place orders in writing and retain order forms!
It’s hard to believe that these simple, commonplace measures straight out of Accountability 101 are not part of HSU procurement procedure. If they were, it’s extremely unlikely that Julie Williamson, wife of HSU East boss Michael Williamson, would have received $384,000 for clerical work which turned to be of little use to anyone.
The lists of lavish expense claims and nepotism surrounding Michael Williamson is so long, they make Craig Thomson and friends seem quite the amateurs.
They are also precisely the sort of news the union movement doesn’t need at a time when its membership of 2 million or less than a fifth of the Australian workforce, is at an historic low.
Mr Williamson was on a salary of almost $400,000. Not only is that more than any politician bar the Prime Minister, it is way in excess of what most union officials earn.
Paul Howes, the high profile secretary of the Australian Workers Union, is said to earn a salary in the low to mid 100k range. Most top officials in the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union earn five figure salaries.
And let’s not forget people like the hospital orderlies who fall under the banner of the HSU, most of whom would earn less than $50k.
The vast majority of union officials are almost certainly not rorters and cheats. That said, they can all learn something from this HSU mess, and that lesson is to rush their business practises headlong into the 21st century.
Unions, by their very nature, are the sorts of organisations which do things on handshakes and trust. Some have transparent, modern policies across practices like procurement, tenders and more. Others, like HSU, clearly don’t. They all should.
And Michael Williamson should go and clean some hospital dunnies for the next decade or so.
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