Is the missing union money lining pockets?

In Australia it is. This morning I outlined the HSU boss Michael Williamson who was on $350000 per year.

It turns out he is being investigated for a series of other rorts to feather his own nest.

A separate audit being prepared by Ian Temby QC is expected to be damaging to Mr Williamson, who stood down in October after a series of revelations in The Sydney Morning Herald that he had milked the union through the abuse of credit cards and IT contracts worth $1 million a year granted to his company, United Edge.

That’s IT covered. What about crony board positions? Not a rort but he is probably earning more than most of his members in board positions on top of his salary.

Mr Williamson’s union-appointed positions include directorships – currently suspended – at state government-related entities, First State Super, State Government Employees (SGE) Credit Union and State Water Corporation, a $34,000 a year position he was appointed to by former NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendaal just before Labor lost office.
Mr Williamson’s union-appointed boardroom roles add more than $100,000 a year to his reported $350,000 a year as general secretary of the HSU.

Then he has what must be the highest paid secretary in the world. Maybe she provides “additional services” as well as secretarial services, and it is not a rort, just a long term arrangement that is cheaper than paying for hookers on the union credit card.

The Temby report is said to contain revelations that a further $400,000 a year has been flowing from the HSU to a company owned by his wife Julie for ”secretarial services”.

Huge money flows to unions every year in New Zealand.Does it flow to the union bosses who are the 1%?


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  • Apolonia

    Matt McCarten would never take money he wasn’t entitled to.

    • Tony

      Just like he wouldn’t shy away from paying tax that he was supposed to…

  • Acting Up

    If true, these allegations about the Gen Sec of the HSU are pretty shocking. Good to see that an audit is underway. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, as they say.
    However to use an example of an Australian unionist, in possibly well-deserved trouble, to suggest that NZ unions are doing the same, is an unfair supposition.
    Arguing from the particular to the general.
    The simple answer to your final question is “no”.
    Union fees in NZ are relatively low (maybe about half of the fees paid in Australia).  From that funding source, unions need to provide a wide range of services – negotiations, personal case representation, meeting attendance, delegate support, legal advice and representation. And do this to a satisfactory standard, in order to meet their duty of care to members, day after day. This is where the money goes.
    Adding up the cashflow amounts over several years can make it look like a lot; but the flow of money is that expenditure usually closely matches income, so that unions, like most NZ small to medium enterprises, have to work hard and spend carefully to stay in the black.
    As incorporated, not-for profit organisations, unions have to be audited each year. They have to present financials to members at the annual general meeting. All money must be spent on operations, and securing the future of the organisation through secure and audited investment.
    Scrutiny can be pretty intense – and so it should be. Unions often demand transparency and accountability from others; they should expect the same from themselves.

  • David

    One Union often overlooked in these Matters is the NZEI, the primary teachers union, in which subscriptions are  not and never could be described as light. I assume the legal obligations are met, but the money rolling in the door and spending decisions??

    • Peter Wilson

      The NZEI is bit cheeky – they get an automatic adjustment whenever the PPTA get a wage increase, so I’m presuming their fees are a lot lower !

      • Kosh103

        It is far from cheeky. It has to do with pay parity and has been part of contract neg’s. for a while now.

        This really does have the wiff of union bashing as opposed to anything of real substance.

      • Peter Wilson

        Don’t be sill Kosh, it’s a legitimate issue – a union still charging fees when their pay negotiations are effectively settled. And it’s not a ping at you, I have family members laughing all the way to bank who are in the NZEI.

      • Kosh103

        Peter, fees are taken every payday – perhaps I have been out in the garden too long today, can you explain what you mean.

      • Peter Wilson

        Normally part of a union’s income is used for wage negotiations. In the case of NZEI, the majority of work is done, now pay parity has been achieved. So why even have a union like NZEI?

  • Kosh103

    May I suggest that if Cam or anyone else has actual proof of iffy money usage then you should either go to the press or the cops.

    Otherwise all this is, is right wing bashing of unions.

    Nothing else.

  • Duncan Brown

    So there you have it: unionists apparently overpaid, and facing allegations; Politicians considered by many to be overpaid and are also facing allegations – are they so unalike? Seems to me they might have all been eating from the same tree… are we so different?