Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Builder names Opposition Leader Bill Shorten named in royal commission

Premier Dan Andrews’s staffer has been drawn into the web of the Royal Commission into Un
Premier Dan Andrews’s staffer has been drawn into the web of the Royal Commission into Union Governance and Corruption. Picture: Ian Currie
BILL Shorten has been named in a royal commission as having a relationship with a builder who paid union membership fees on his workers’ behalf for more than 20 years. 

Dino Strano, founder of building firm Winslow, told the Royal Commission into Union Governance and Corruption that he had an association with the Australian Workers Union since the early 1990s.

He said he had paid AWU memberships for his workers to give his company a “degree of stability” and avoid working with the militant CFMEU.

Of his relationships with AWU leaders he said: “There’s been a variety of people from, you know, Bill Shorten, Peter Smoljko, Cesar, and various organisers over the years, yes.”

The Opposition Leader was Victorian secretary of the AWU from 1998 until 2006.

His office said: “As stated previously, Labor is not going to give a running commentary on the royal commission.”

The AWU also organised meetings with government agencies including VicRoads as part of the relationship, the commission heard.

Premier Daniel Andrews has also become tangled in the AWU memberships affair.

Mr Andrews’ private office employee John-Paul Blandthorn has given evidence to the commission this morning about his former role as an organiser for the Australian Workers’ Union.

He was quizzed over a pay deal with Clean Event that he negotiated that allegedly ripped off cleaners.
Mr Blandthorn was the right hand man of former AWU boss Cesar Melhem, who is now an Upper House Labor MP.

Mr Blandthorn said that he had kept Mr Melhem, whose political career is now in crisis, “in the loop” about the pay deal that short changed workers up to $27 an hour.

Mr Blandthorn said that Mr Melhem knew the details of the Clean Event deal, which did not provide penalty rates for weekend and public holiday work.

“I was keeping him in the loop the whole time,” he said.

Mr Blandthorn said that he had daily meetings with Mr Melhem about matters, including the pay deal.

And he revealed that Mr Melhem attended a meeting in May 2010 with Clean Event where he demanded a $25,000 payment to the AWU as a “service fee.”

Mr Melhem had told Clean Event at the meeting that the company had no industrial troubles because of the AWU’s work as he requested the money.

Mr Blandthorn could not recall the figure of the payment but did confirm that Mr Melhem had made a request for payment.

Mr Blandthorn said he raised concerns with Mr Melhem about the deal, but his complaints were dismissed.
“He said, ‘Look JP, it’s your job to make sure it gets done,” Mr Blandthorn said.

Clean Event was negotiating an extension to its pay deal in 2010, which was based on a Work Choices era agreement.

The company told the AWU that they could not afford to pay penalty rates, which would have increased weekend pay rates to $45 an hour, because competitors were paying staff at lower rates in cash.

Mr Melhem signed off on the pay deal that significantly reduced workers’ pay in comparison with the modern award.

The deal saved Clean Event $2 million a year in wages, and the company paid an annual $25,000 fee to the union during its operation.

heraldsun.com.au 3 June 2015

 Bill Shorten, another criminal politician in office, but no doubt will escape any wrongdoing, as per usual from the corrupt government.

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