03 April 2009

AWU - 15 years behind the game

This author has had the (mis)fortune of reading some articles recently where the AWU has been rabbiting on about its growth strategy. Looks like it discovered the organising model about 15 years after most unions. And let's face facts - it's pretty hard to know what is the truth from that union. Its reported membership figures are some of the biggest works of fiction around. Its Queensland Branch counts over 10,000 unfinancial members as being full members.

Mind you this is a union that put in charge a right-wing hack by the name of Paul Howes who is so young you'd think he was straight out of high school with no real work outside of being an ALP lacky and time in the union movement. Oh wait - that is the case. How can this person be the national leader of a (let's face it) mid-size union? Is he rank-and-file? Did he cut his stripes in a shearing shed or a mine? No. He was 26 when "elected" to the post. It's pathetic. For unions to be truly representative their leaders should actually have worked in the industries they represent so they know the issues facing their comrades. At least Bill Ludwig was a shearer.

And whilst I am discussing right-wing unions and ridiculously inexperienced union leaders I cannot go past Joe de Bruyn. Born in 1947 this man has been National Secretary of the SDA for more than half his life. If there was ever a case for limited terms for union officials Joe would be Exhibit A.

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