A serious financial crisis confronts the Victorian branch of the Australian Manufacturers Workers Union. The union was once the powerhouse of the Victorian Socialist Left faction but finds itself on the verge of leaving that group and unable to financially sustain its own activities.
UNION ON SKID-ROW
The rapid decline in membership, particularly in its Metals division, driven by a downturn in the manufacturing sector is having a devastating effect on the union, according to the union’s officials who are worried about their future.
Union insiders say there is a culture of crisis and panic that has beset the union, with only recent political adventures lightening the mood somewhat.
Desperate measures have been adopted by the union bosses former federal MP Steve Dargavel and Gary Robb to hang on to as many staff as possible.
They have been told to adjust their spending to meet the change income by national AMWU boss Dave Oliver.
Some staff have already been sacked.
In one dramatic example of the lengths they have been forced into, the AMWU blew up longstanding arrangements with an income insurance company after that company had refused to employ several union officials from the Metals.
The AMWU has since formed a company called WageGuard that will employ those officials, cutting the union’s wage bill by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It is also widely known in industry super circles that the AMWU are demanding super funds with which they are affiliated employ a number of their officials, as a matter of urgency.
It is understood that financial imperatives have also driven the union’s desire to put Andy Richards on the head office payroll with that move thought to save the union another $100,000.
ALP observers have thought it remarkable that the parliamentary aspirant Steve Dargavel has managed to find time to launch an attack on his former faction, the Socialist Left while most would have expected him to focus on saving his union from a financial collapse.
ON THE TAKE
Unconfirmed rumours suggest that a deal signed by the CFMEU and certain officials from the AMWU (including Steve Dargavel) guarantee those unions certain “policy outcomes” that some say are linked to the number of members those unions could expect to gain from favourable government decisions.
If that is true, some with John Brumby’s ear are worried that the arrangement could be seen as using taxpayer money to buy internal votes.
Those familiar with the terms of the deal have emphatically told VEXNEWS that the suggestion of corruption is “bullsh*t” and “delusional”. They insist the Premier’s office have been consulted on the deal and that no-one has raised any ethical concerns with them.
While that’s in doubt, all sides agree the Victorian branch of the AMWU is in a parlous state, made worse by the irrational and megalomaniacal leadership of ultra-left wing conspiracy theorist and Israel hater Steve Dargavel.