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Numbers and Labor Party influence count for United Voice - not looking after George Colombaris's workers

United Voice is the union which should have picked up the systematic underpayments to George Colombaris's workers.

It has Right of Entry Permits and the ability to check the company's books.

It has access to the payslips of every worker.

But it did nothing.  Brought no action against the companies - and it wasn't a party to the Fair Work Ombudsman's action and the Enforceable Undertaking released yesterday.

United Voice is one our largest unions, with over 130,000 members.

It has a long history as the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union - but in March 2011 it applied to the Fair Work Commission to drop the word "union" from its title and became "United Voice", telling the Commission:

The new name is the outcome of a corporate-style rebranding featuring surveys, focus groups and marketing consultants.

A large proportion of members work in clubs, pubs and other licensed premises (like The Press Club and other Colombaris establishments), but the union argued in the Fair Work Commission that the word ''liquor'' had to go.

''The word 'liquor' is not in common usage and offends Muslim and indigenous....members. United Voice resonated with members and potential members. It was a name that no one felt excluded by.''

At the time, the Sydney Morning Herald reported:

Ray Gietzelt, 88, the union's longest-serving leader, resisted pressure to change the name.

''There were those who weren't happy with the 'miscellaneous' title, but you make your reputation based on what you do and how you perform, not your name,'' he said.

What you do and how you perform.  Wise words.  What the union didn't do was check that its members were being paid properly.

It did find the time and money to mount a campaign over gay marriage.  And it's been part of the ACTU's "change the rules" campaign, whatever that means.

But its fundamental concern has always been numbers and influence within the Labor Party.

In 2016 the ABC's 730 program broadcast this segment - it's a rare insight into the inner workings of a Labor-affiliated union with its relentless focus on member numbers which bring more votes at Labor Party congress and thus more influence - and preselections for union officials like Penny Wong.


And in 2015 it funded and briefly ran this bizarre ad on YouTube - all about taking back power in the Labor Party.


Yesterday United Voice told us it was shocked to learn of the Colombaris underpayments - which it calls wage theft.

Theft of workers money hey!  I'd be having a long hard look at my union fees if I was a member.


As at 10AM this morning, this is a screen shot from United Voice's current website.

Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 7.23.51 am

Through United Voice, members have won better agreements in all industries. Most recently, United Voice members have secured the jobs of thousands of childcare professionals left in limbo by the collapse of ABC Learning. Elsewhere, members have achieved better wages, conditions and a voice on the job by winning our Clean Start campaign in city buildings.

Most recently, United Voice secured the jobs of thousands left in limbo by the collapse of ABC Learning??????

ABC Learning went into administration eleven years ago - 2008.

A website isn't everything, but it's an organisation's public face.  If they don't care about keeping that up to date, what else don't they care about?

There's one line on that page that does ring true

United Voice is innovative and ambitious. But, most importantly, we’re effective at winning better jobs. 

They just forgot to add for the union's bosses.