Shorten got benefits for himself and AWU officials to the detriment of workers
Indomitable spirit of the British soldier.

Solidarity workers magazine - "Shorten, the best friend bosses ever had"

Shorten was paid by workers to act for workers.

Instead, Shorten took money from bosses to do favours for bosses.

Here's Solidarity on Shorten.

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Bill Shorten was Victorian Secretary of the AWU from 1998 to 2006 and National Secretary from 2001 to 2007, when he resigned to run for parliament.

AWU officials, including Shorten, have been caught out accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from employers, in return for pliable workplace agreements and a moderate union that keeps the industrial peace. This money is primarily used to inflate the union’s membership which then gives AWU leaders more power inside the Labor Party to preselect candidates and to influence policy.

The number of delegates each affiliated union gets at ALP conferences depends on its size.

Over the decades the AWU has used its strength to boost dozens of its former leaders into parliament.

Stooping low

The AWU has always been renowned for doing dodgy deals that undercut other unions, but what has been revealed in recent months is just how low they can stoop.

The most revealing deal was with the large cleaning company Cleanevent that employed thousands of casuals to clean up after big sporting events, signed by Shorten’s successor in the Victorian branch in 2010.

Thanks to the AWU, Cleanevent was legally able to employ casual cleaners working after hours on weekends on $18.14 an hour, when under the Award rate they were entitled to $50.17 an hour.

Workers that move from the Award to Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBAs) are meant to be “better off overall”, but this didn’t protect the Cleanevent workers because AWU officials never challenged the agreement.

In return for this sweetheart deal the company handed over the names of their employees (without their knowledge) and $75,000 every year for their union membership fees. Company emails showed they were saving $2 million a year in wages and having this exclusive deal boosted the company’s value.

Another dodgy agreement that came to light, signed on Shorten’s watch, was on Melbourne’s $2.5 billion EastLink Tollway project. Construction company Thiess John Holland negotiated an EBA with the AWU that undercut standard conditions on civil construction sites established by rival union, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).

After signing the agreement the company began paying the AWU just over $100,000 a year for the next three years. The payments to the AWU were recorded as being for training, research and for conferences, but there is no evidence that these services were ever delivered.

The project finished five months before schedule and the Institute of Public Affairs estimates the company benefited by about $100 million. Tony Shepherd, a former Business Council of Australia president and who was the chairman of the EastLink Tollway project was full of praise for the deal saying it was a “great agreement” and that they got a “lot more flexibility regarding rostering”.

The list of dodgy deals goes on. The Huntsman Group paid the AWU tens of thousands of dollars to keep a long-time AWU delegate employed, whose job was “stopping trouble” as the company restructured and closed a plant.

Winslow Construction paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for union membership fees disguised as payments for training. Winslow’s founder, Dino Strano, wanted to keep the CFMEU at bay and told the commission this deal gave his firm “a certain degree of stability”. Unibilt, a labour hire company, while negotiating an EBA with the AWU, was also paying the $40,000 wage bill for Lance Wilson, who was working on Bill Shorten’s election campaign.

While it is common for firms to deduct union fees from workers’ wages and then pass the money over to the union, in lots of cases, firms were paying the AWU fees without deducting from workers’ wages. This just looks like they were buying influence.