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HSU: NUW withdraws Jackson support as Shorten moves in

A one-time union ally of beleaguered Health Services Union chief Kathy Jackson has publicly withdrawn his support for the ailing former student politician as industrial relations minister Bill Shorten moves to dissolve her crumbling Victorian ALP powerbase forever.

National Union of Workers state secretary Tim Kennedy — who joined with Jackson and fellow former-“Rebel Right” unionists Michael Donovan and Bill Oliver last year to contest Frank McGuire’s preselection in Broadmeadows — told Crikey this morning that the “significant reputational damage done to the labour movement” by Jackson’s hijinks meant he had no choice but to distance himself.

The HSU has now become a serious governance issue and I support the steps taken [by Bill Shorten] to clean up the union,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy’s NUW previously upheld a rag-tag political alliance with Jackson and Senator David Feeney in an attempt to ring-fence his union’s state and federal preselection heft. The union is the last major hold out to a global peace deal inside the Victoria ALP, following the Donovan-led Shop Assistants’ decision to sidle up to the dominant “stability pact” comprising the ShortCons and the Socialist Left. The tripartite alliance currently controls a massive 450 delegates on the 606-delegate state conference floor.

Crikey understands that the two other plaintiffs in the Broadmeadows dispute — Donovan and Oliver — have also consigned Jackson to ancient history, thanks to their unions’ tacit rapprochement with Shorten’s forces.

Kennedy agreed the NUW was politically marginalised in Victoria but said an alliance with Jackson — whose union power equated to 20 seats on Victorian Labor’s state conference floor prior to its disaffiliation — was now completely untenable.

And in perhaps the ultimate betrayal, NUW organisers were also angered by Jackson’s recent use of HR Nicholls society IR headkicker Stuart Wood to help her prepare a case to prosecute Michael Williamson. Wood recently represented poultry industry cowboys Baiada in its bitter Supreme Court spat with the union to prevent workers accessing basic employment rights and proper pay.

Kennedy said that the union was still in pretty good shape and that he maintained good relations on the “industrial side” with both CFMEU and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. On the political side, he said the NUW still sits with the SDA at admin and that the SDA’s detente with Shorten was “not fully consummated”.

Yesterday, the Federal Court heard Shorten’s bid to immediately place HSUEast — formed as a marriage of convenience between the Jackson-controlled Victorian number 1 and number 3 branches and the Williamson-controlled NSW branch — into administration. This morning, the HSU National Council voted overwhelmingly to appoint an ombudsman to its national edifice.

Jackson’s political muscle is now severely lacking.

Even if the HSU number 1  branch and Jackson’s former number 3 branches are de-merged on Shorten’s instructions and somehow re-affiliate to the ALP, then she would only control about 20 delegates — at best — at state conference. Crikey understands that the Victorian Trades Hall Council will move today to formally suspend HSUEast following a similar decision by north-of-the-Murray counterparts Unions NSW.

It leaves Jackson with a dwindling power base among ethnic Turks controlled by Hume Councillor Burhan Yigit and centred on the Calwell FEA — estimated at about nine delegates on conference floor and two members on the 100-strong Public Office Selection Committee.

Jackson’s personal political dream to succeed good friend Kaye Darveniza in Northern Victoria would appear to be stillborn given preselections for the 2014 state election will be decided on a 50-50 vote of grassroots Northern Vic members and 50% by the POSC. Labor sources have reported little evidence of pro-Jackson “madness” in the region to date. Jackson, despite spruiking a lack of ALP involvement to her members, recently served on Labor’s Administrative Committee, remains a member of the Party, and has run twice for Parliament — in Silvan in 1996 and for preselection in Northcote following Mary Delahunty’s resignation a decade later.

Darveniza, who toiled for a decade as state secretary of the Health and Community Services Union and for nine years as Vice President of the national HSU, is married to Craig Thomson’s national secretary predecessor Rob Elliott. Last year her office famously prepared a press release on Jackson’s behalf.

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16 Responses

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  1. Whatever Kathy Jackson’s affiliations or Michael Williamson’s actions, this public brawling has to end, for the good of the members of the HSU, the good of the union movement generally and the good of the ALP, in that order of priority. I think Shorten is doing the right thing. It seems now to be the only way to end the ongoing brawling. There are many many issues that affect members of this union in our health system that the union needs to get back to comprehensively addressing. A new leadership with as fresh a start as can be managed is what is needed now. Jackson, Williamson and Thomson can go to whatever fate awaits them.

    by Jenny Haines on Apr 27, 2012 at 1:33 pm

  2. Well Thomson has not been with the union for years so he won’t be doing anything.

    But Jackson and her massive pay packet and politicial ambitions along with idiot media has created a real mess.

    by shepherdmarilyn on Apr 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm

  3. Suzanne Blake - your defence of Jackson if you please?

    by SBH on Apr 27, 2012 at 2:23 pm

  4. This article refers to Jackson’s “hijinks” as having damaged the reputation of the union movement. To the rest of us, the sleazy sense of entitlement that led senior union officials to spend members’ money on prostitutes is the real scandal and no amount of band-aiding by Shorten through direct intervention will change this.

    Jackson has the reputation from the public as the person who exposed it all.

    by David Hand on Apr 27, 2012 at 5:10 pm

  5. Yeah, Kathy’s a saint and your so dumb you fell for the Mother Theresa routine David?

    by SBH on Apr 28, 2012 at 12:16 am

  6. Exactly SBH! Sleazy sense of entitlement? WT?
    Where was Kathy when husband Jeff was using member funds for procuring prostitutes? The very same accusations levelled at Craig Thomposon.
    No braying for the husbands head or dragging the union through mud. One has to wonder why…. divorce settlement…. a sense of marital entitlement?
    Surely the woman must be the biggest hippocrite in recent times and totally abhorred by the majority of members of the HSU.
    Thank the powers that be this parasite will no longer draw a wage from the hard working members of the HSU and be cast into oblivion.

    by lilac on Apr 28, 2012 at 1:20 am

  7. Hey SBH,
    Maybe I made a mistake and Jackson didn’t send all the documentation about Williamson and Thompson the the police or Fairwork or whoever. I thought I read that somewhere.

    Run all the interference you like. The HSU fiasco is yet another sordid tale of corruption that will bring the Gillard government down due to its unwillingness to do anything about Craig Thonpson.

    No amount of damage control by Shorten can save them but it’s about saving Labor, not some new found sense of integrity in the union movement.

    by David Hand on Apr 28, 2012 at 11:34 am

  8. Pssssr. David, the HSU is no in parliament.

    by shepherdmarilyn on Apr 28, 2012 at 4:19 pm

  9. Marilyn,
    The HSU not being in parliament has absolutely no bearing on the toxicity of Julia’s “confidence in the member for Dobell”

    by David Hand on Apr 28, 2012 at 5:04 pm

  10. You are a moron David, Downer, Vaile and co had great confidence in AWB which was an Australian government entity.

    Craig Thomson will not be charged with anything because fair work can only investigate what he is doing in his current job which is his job.

    Honestly the problem with the hang ém high tea partiers like you is you have zero sense of proportion.

    by shepherdmarilyn on Apr 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm

  11. So Jackson is seeking a Parliamentary seat which will mean a 50% cut in salary?

    by AR on Apr 28, 2012 at 7:32 pm

  12. You make a good point, Marilyn.
    It is likely that the AWB fiasco was a factor that turned the electorate off the coalition.

    Thank you for pigeon holing me so beautifully. A “hang em high tea partier”. No one’s ever called me that before.

    by David Hand on Apr 28, 2012 at 8:30 pm

  13. Where was Federal Labor when these crimes were actually occurring? Why are they punishing this branch now when all the crimes happened long ago? It is just Labor looking to strike back at the exceptionally brave woman leading this union for outing them as crooks and cheats.

    by Daryl… on Apr 29, 2012 at 9:08 am

  14. Daryl, Labor was building and maintaining power and to do that they were overlooking the rumours about the HSU and some of its officers. That’s all they were then and now we have more proof that there was substance to those rumours. But never mind the honest trade unionists in that union who were trying to get the union active around membership issues who found themselves bullied by those who are now accused. Never mind that the union ran on a culture of fear, no dissent was allowed and those who did dissent were labelled, made pariahs and or pushed out of the union. But look back over history - this is the process of power and maintaining power where there is no accountability. It is not unique to unions or political parties of either side. The best counter to the corruption of power is accountability through democracy. Now there is a big lesson that Labor and the Coalition could learn.

    by Jenny Haines on Apr 29, 2012 at 9:24 am

  15. Which ALP member on TV this morning called Shorten a “Moth”? The man who is attracted to cameras.

    Well he screwed up last week with his Gillard Slipper backing, that has gone viral around the World and is seen as funnier than Yes Minister.

    The ALP member also said that Shorten had been calling HSU members asking them to lay charges against Kathy Jackson.

    Looks like Shorten is shooting himself in the foot in his bid for Prime Ministership, to replace dishonest Gillard

    by Suzanne Blake on Apr 29, 2012 at 9:41 am

  16. @ Jenny Haines

    Labor was not ignoring the HSU, they were paying Thomson’s legal bills to stop him going into bankruptcy, this cause a by election.

    You have Shorten working behind the scenes pulling strings and engaging in perverting the course of justice as explained by the HSU National Secretary and ALP members on National TV this morning.

    by Suzanne Blake on Apr 29, 2012 at 12:46 pm

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