The Hospital Services Union, a once proud and militant union, stands condemned and on the brink of collapse in the light of the Craig Thomson “Brothel gate” scandal.The New South Wales police investigation has found no criminal activities but does not deny that officials used the union as their own A.T.M.
Thousands upon thousands of members’ money has gone missing. As a small example and only relating to a sample of the Pitcher partners investigation some interesting facts have come to light ,it seems that there were any amount of unauthorised payments to officials without proof of the expenditure.Imagine the amount of time over the years the following has happened and then multiply it.
In relation to Shaun Hudson he was reimbursed $135,371 during the period 1st July 2007 to 30th November 2008 on his Citibank credit card but the branch was only supplied with receipts for $128,376 the investigation showed that receipts were $6,995 short but still paid to Hudson .
Branch records show that Jeff Jackson was reimbursed $19,019 for branch expenditure personally during the period period 1st July 2007 to 30th November 2008,receipts presented to the branch totalled $14,891 and investigators could find no documents substantiating the $4,128 for which Jackson was reimbursed.
The Pitcher Partners report contains more devastating evidence of large scale rorting of members money over a long period of time.
The union already stands comdemned by its once loyal members, and in the eyes of the general public it has brought shame on the whole trade union movement.
I have worked around, but not in, this union for 25 years and believe that I am more than qualified to comment on its past and present officials and their practices.
The Craig Thomson affair is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to shonky practices involving mismanagement of money in the H.S.U.
Only a full scale and genuine police investigation will find the rats in the ranks in the national office, but the investigation should not be confined to them it must go further and include the other branches in Australia specifically Victoria. Also interesting to know is that there is no Victorian branch of the union anymore, it was taken over by the New South Wales branch without any consutation with members.Its now called H.S.U.A East.
The Victorian branch of the H.S.U.A in the 90s was a union to be proud of under the leadership of Jan Armstrong and Gail Gills. There was never a wage campaign, social justice issue or political event when the leadership did not turn out their members.
Renowned for introducing political and industrial tactics in their day to day struggle for better pay and conditions won the admiration of members and the respect of fellow unionists.
Where did it all go wrong?
Where did it all go wrong you ask. I remember one particular episode that left a bad taste in my mouth. A very high ranking official in the Victorian branch and very close to Secretary Jan Armstrong, selectively released details of her spending on a union issued card to the Media.
This selective release of the details cast a very personal light on Jan Armstrong and was the subject of legal action and an apology to her. It’s widely held that Jeff Jackson was the one who released those details to the media to embarrass Armstrong .
Yet his own Gold Bendigo Bank credit card show that he used the card to purchase designer clothes, dental work and expensive meals at some of Melbourne’s finest eating places during his reign as State Secretary.
There was internal and political dissent within the union and the ambitions of some officials had grossly been inflated .The influence of the right wing faction of the Labor Party had begun to take hold, stealing the oxygen from decent, committed and honest officials and their members.
As was the practice with Secretaries from all Australian states, spending on credit cards was allowed to purchase personal items. The card holder would then single out those purchases when given a detailed account from the card company at the end of every month and pay for those personal items. Nothing unusual about that, but in hindsight not very smart.
I mention this incident because Jan Armstrong did nothing wrong but paid the ultimate political price because of the betrayal of someone she should have been able to trust. Jeff Jackson, while State Secretary, treated the union as his own personal feifdom as the numerous allegations of misuse of union funds has been proven correct in all official reports published to date. Yet he thought nothing of betraying his leader in his uncompromising push for power
Official documents prepared by Pitcher Partners show that the Victorian branch has thousands and thousands of dollars of spending that cannot be accounted for. This is Members money
Giving your opponents the chance to stab you in the back and then have you charged with carrying a concealed weapon is not a smart political move. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Leaking information to the media for them to misconstrue the details is an old political trick of right wing union officials and labor party henchmen. Definately not ethical. but effective. My friend, Irene Webber a once proud member of a once proud union, would argue that it’s Karma, and it’s come back to bite Jeff Jackson on his sartorialy suited arse.
The Right wing of the Labor Party has turned this once vibrant union into a rotten shell of its former self, it will never recover from the greed of former officials or the stench of financial mismanagement, public brawls and serious allegations of sexual harasment.
The brand has been tarnished
The brand has been tarnished and other unions are circling the carcass. I doubt that any union trying to recruit members of the H.S.U when it’s finally deregistered will be very successful as the union brand has been trashed. This union has had too many scandals in recent years under the failed leadership of Jeff Jackson, Kathy Jackson, Pauline Feegan and Shaun Hudson.
The serious incidents mentioned here is indicative of the whole malaise, and only the tip of the iceberg as far as corruption. theft of union resources and graft now endemic in the union .
I mention it only to show the depths some people will sink to, but I will leave the numerous allegations made against this motley crew to Victoria police and hopefully Fair Work Australia.
Any reasonable person would be inquisitive to know about the relationship between Kathy Jackson and Fair Work Australia commissioner Michael Lawler. I dont question their right to be engaged in a relationship but it’s a reasonable question to ask why has F.W.A taken over 2 years to investigate the original complaint made to them by the unions #4 branch.
This seems a bit close to home when your partner works for the government body that’s entrusted to investigate the union of which you’re the leader, without fear or favour.
The #4 branch of the union is made up of health professionals and they took up a petition to present to F.W.A with the required 250 signatures to launch an investigation one month before any move by Jackson. .Jackson’s claim to have alerted F.W.A first is just not true.
It seems the leadership of the #4 branch under the brave leadership of Dr Ros Kelly saw the scale of the rorting and did someting about it
Union members are entitled to ask why over $450.000 was paid to Jeff Jackson Shaun Hudson and Pauline Feegan in a lawyer-brokered deal for them to stay away from the union. That was members money!! !
Jeff Jackson returned $15.000 when he was found to have double the amount of super going into his account, that’s small cheese when he and Hudson were paid the equivalent of one year’s pay to do nothing.
The details of more grubby deals come to mind and I will reveal these as time goes on. The one about Jeff and Kathy trying to do a deal to minimise his child care payments to his former wife Donna is an absolute classic.