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ORWELLIAN: AWU booming, The Age sulking

growth-chartThe Age newspaper has continued to taint itself through sometimes insanely biased reporting, compounding the scandal of its hacking scandal where two of its reporters were caught out illegally accessing the ALP’s computers and could potentially be jailed.

Its absurdist attack on Australia’s fastest growing the Australian Workers Union (which is to say one of the nation’s few unions growing at all and probably the only “blue collar” union that’s grown in recent decades) was a typically fact-light rhetoric-heavy sneak attack.

In recent times under the leadership of former national secretary Bill Shorten and his successor Paul Howes, the union has grown dramatically as Paul Howes pointed out today:

“It is because of a consistent drive to ensure the AWU continues to be the biggest blue-collar union that we’ve recorded an amazing growth rate since 2007. The AWU’s membership figures are audited by independent, external auditors and are publicly available in accordance with the Fair Work Act. Reports in the Fairfax media today are demonstrably wrong. Fairfax did not provide a reasonable capacity to the AWU to respond to the allegations printed today.”

The Age was desperately keen to hatchet the nation’s best-performing union that it used publicly filed data to make adverse and false claims about the union having “phantom” members :

The union naturally has a number unfinancial members, this is due to the itinerant nature of many parts of the AWU’s coverage particularly in construction, sugar, agriculture and the services sector.

Sugar-cane workers work for three months a year, for example. They come and they go, a little bit like The Age’s commitment to journalistic ethics which is strong on the rhetoric but a little lacking when making fateful decisions about, for example, hacking the ALP computers, in violation of federal and state law.

Sources tell VEXNEWS that there is more to come on The Age’s ugly hacking scandal with rumours circulating that there are records of the searches conducted by Royce Millar and his sidekick Nick McKenzie. We understand there are several hundred of them, all potential nightmares for Melbourne’s preachiest and sleaziest newspaper.


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  1. Todays Age article included a quote from Dean Mighell putting the boots into Howes saying he should engage with his members more. perhaps Paul should spend a heap of his time explaining fruity trips to London and disappearing companys to his members like dean does

    Posted by T Devon | April 27, 2011, 15:32
  2. Speaking of preachy and sleazy individuals, let’s have an article on RICK “THE RAT” GAROTTI

    Posted by Anon | April 27, 2011, 15:39
  3. The AWU having Phantom Members… Wouldn’t expect anything less from that union! They are the only registered Trade Union in Australia who have had deceased members, yes dead people folks, vote in ballots for union officials elections. I think them inflating their membership, be it financial or non-financial, is just so they can maintain numbers at respective State and National ALP conferences/conventions. That ain’t as bad as dead voters though. So they have come along way with Mr Howes.

    Posted by Unity Boy | April 27, 2011, 16:20
  4. Mr Howes should explain why a number of companies in Melbourne and Sydney Pay the union memberships for their employees to the AWU?

    Posted by When the Boss stops Paying | April 27, 2011, 18:01
  5. Hmm dead members I like it….

    Posted by Taking of Pell 123 | April 27, 2011, 18:26
  6. I’d encourage Mighell to concentrate more on the representation of members and less on lining his pockets. I am sure his members would rather he was sent to jail.

    Posted by Guns in his dam | April 27, 2011, 22:23
  7. “The AWU’s membership figures are audited by independent, external auditors and are publicly available in accordance with the Fair Work Act.”

    Please, how disingenuous, yes most unions auditors are independent in that the union selects them and reafirms them as the unions auditors each year. As for the numbers of members, the auditors accept what is submitted by the union. The auditors do not write to each alleged member to make sure they are real, alive, know they are a member. Auditors do not even randomly sample members, say, writing to 1 in 20 members to see if they know they are a member, are alive or that they are a real person. Paul Howes would well know this, so his comments are as usual pure piffle. I think most people have latched onto the fact that the views of the Right of the ALP are not the views of all union members; or even all voters. The rorting of union membership is not new. It is a scandal though because unions like the AWU affiliate on numbers, so that is members money going to a party many of the unions members would not support. They are not alone though most unions these days, especially on the ‘Right’ are at it and as previous posters here have said it’s all about getting arses on seats and the numbers at the ALP Conference, where they do little to adavance the cause of workers.

    Posted by Medici | April 27, 2011, 22:58
  8. Where is the expose on my dirty Rat acts Andy?

    Posted by Rick the Rat | April 27, 2011, 23:24
  9. I campaigned to get elected as Lord Mayor on the basis that I would reopen Swanston Street to cars.

    Now I am nothing more than lying liar that lies.

    It seems that my chance of a second term as Lord Mayor are pretty much nil.

    Posted by Fatty Doyle | April 28, 2011, 1:44
  10. A bit like your Grand Prix stance, Doyle?

    You always were a loud-mouthed wanker.

    Posted by Syphologist | April 28, 2011, 8:36
  11. They are just engaging in the seasonal Union bashing. Union elections are conducted by the AEC. They get no more independent then that. The AEC send out via the Australia post Union ballots. The roll information is also cross checked with the Australian Electoral role. Any allegation of membership irregularities can readily be checked. I guess that if someone dies the last thing they or their estate managers do is notify the union. They fall off the system at renewal time. It is scandalous and liability for the Age to make such unsubstantiated claims. A bit like the Ages attack on the ALP when they hacked into the ALP database. How much information on people does the Age maintain. Frankly and truthfully I read the Age much less nowadays then I use to. Previous once a day now lucky to be once a week. It is a paper that has lost its way and is no longer seen as a quality news investigative source.

    Posted by It is the Age Union Bashing | April 28, 2011, 8:51
  12. The establishment was always going to turn on Paul at some point – he is an outsider compared to Shorten.

    Fact is Paul dropped the inflated numbers of Shorten early in his term but has allowed the non financials to rise again. A ‘trick’ but no worse than Shorten.

    The net affect is Howes has shrunk and then grown the AWU – but the media has now turned on him for just doing what Bill did.

    Posted by union member (unpaid) | April 28, 2011, 8:54
  13. What a sneaky-sounding article. The Age should offer the other side of the story. I’m disappointed.

    Posted by Ben | April 28, 2011, 10:53
  14. I can say, auditors do not verify union member numbers nor does the commission registry. They
    accept what numbers are provided by the union as being correct. They are not required by law to check the figures. I have experince in this area. And yes, unfinancial members are included & most unions practice this. Whether this is an accurate figure is very debatable as i have seen unfinancial members after 3 years still in union records. The reason, union numbers means higher influenmce in labor caucus!!! Look howes performing like a 2 bob watch. Problem is, he now starts to belive in his own spin(aka bullshit) and that spells disaster for him.

    Posted by cynic | April 28, 2011, 11:03
  15. Being a loud-mouthed wanker is one my endearing qualities.

    Posted by Fatty Doyle | April 28, 2011, 11:38
  16. This story is in the same deplorable category as the Age’s low act in misrepresenting the operation of the welfare fund managed for CFA volunteers by their Association. The Age tried to justify its hatchet job by claiming it was using the findings of an “independent researcher”. Trouble was the Age sneaks failed to mention that the so-called researcher was a darling of the Left with an axe to grind against the Volunteer Firefighters Association. Even John Faine walked away in disgust after becoming aware of the real facts. But not the Age with its easy come easy go ethics.

    Posted by John Devlin | April 28, 2011, 11:39
  17. They have members who are dead? it’s OK so does George. This is all good.

    Posted by Anonymous | April 28, 2011, 12:01
  18. Paul Howes is 10 times the union boss Billy Shortn ever was and has far more power as a result of his outstanding performance thus far.

    Posted by Anonymous | April 28, 2011, 12:13
  19. I see Paul Howes has stated that The Age story is ‘libelous’ on the AWU website. So we can get to the bottom of this when the union sues The Age yes? The AWU will be able to give a full and frank explanation as to how it all works. The legal papers are being drawn up as we speak yes?……….Hmmm somehow I think probably not.

    Posted by Medici | April 28, 2011, 20:07
  20. My Boss pays my AWU membership,

    Posted by Free union | April 28, 2011, 20:55
  21. The evidence is there when the AWU have their Annual Ball at Melbourne’s Crown Casino Ballroom and most tables are paid for and taken up by Employers. The legacy of the Shorten / Pratt relationship lives on.

    Posted by Johnny Holland | April 28, 2011, 23:35
  22. Good luck to the AWU if they are having membership growth – but the fastest growing union in Australia? The ETU and the Nurses would have then hands down on percentage growth of members. Pull out the statistics off FWA and do a real story.

    Posted by fair go | April 29, 2011, 8:44
  23. The Nurses yes that would be right Fair go(she-mighell) but the ETU please!!!!!
    The ETU officials in Victoria limited courage and work effort enables them go on to one job, the desal plant (and that job cant last for ever). good luck seeing them on any other constructuion job. The ETU is as nearly as big of a joke with elctricians employers and other unions as its bi-curious State Secretary

    Posted by Suzzana | April 29, 2011, 10:34
  24. The POG him full of shit.

    First him lie about age.

    Then him say he was born in Argentina.

    Now membership numbers.

    What next?

    Posted by ZORAN KIDNEY | April 29, 2011, 17:10
  25. If Howes is ten times the union official Shorten was I am surprised they have any members at all. The ruling class obviously find them useful idiots and this does influence those incapable of thinking criticially but I would think that all right minded people see Shorten and Howes for the vacuous, politically inept people that they really are. The gloss will go off Howes pretty quick I would hope, please let’s not have another ALP Right hack get bloody preselection, enough already. Apparently he had a go at Chifley but got pipped on that one.

    Posted by Medici | April 30, 2011, 0:43
  26. It’s funny how anonymous people are always praising Paul Howes. Just laughable (see above). He is a pro-gay “marriage” obsessive that needs to keep his eye on real workers’ issues (not boutique leftwing agendas). Makes me cringe. How out of touch? Recently he said, “I now appreciate just how upset workers are about the carbon tax.” (Seriously.)

    Posted by Ben | April 30, 2011, 1:04
  27. Yesterday the door bell rang. It was an canvasser flogging The Age subscriptions. They are desperate.

    They have also broken the law. Only the Red Cross, the Salvos and possibly a couple of other well-known charities are permitted to do door-to-door importuning without a permit in Manningham.

    Posted by Walter Plinge | April 30, 2011, 11:32
  28. the foxtel formula means 88percent of folks cannot now watch afl football . it will cost 760$ now and the following year ? ? it will end up like the uk the rich watch the poor dont fuck u foxtel die an early death

    Posted by heto | April 30, 2011, 13:33
  29. The AMWU has two sets of books for union elections. They run a scam with bodgey members having a postcode of 3999. They are all very suspect and incapable of actually delivering for their members.

    Posted by Ray | April 30, 2011, 21:38
  30. Walter Pilger – funny my phone rang the other day, HSU ringing me to try and get them to come back to them. I thought when you resigned and asked to be removed from their database, they break the law by keeping your details. AWU and HSU what a combinations – oops it was Howes and Williamson who up to their grubby best in getting rid of Rudd,

    Posted by Anon | April 30, 2011, 22:36