Internal wrangling inside union super fund. Concerns are growing at senior levels inside the Finance Sector Union over goings on at Industry Fund Services, the company at the centre of a web of inter-related super organisations founded by Gary Weaven and owned by a consortium of major industry funds. Long regarded by the FSU as a “friendly” company, with open access for officials and a corporate subsidy for union membership, 2010 saw restrictions placed on union visits, and the FSU involved in a succession of manager resignations and staff separations. In one case, security guards were used to enforce the out-of-hours exit of a senior manager, details of which swiftly leaked throughout super circles despite a clumsy attempt by senior management to impose an information blackout.

Union insiders trace the current turmoil back to the appointment of a new CEO, Kay Thawley, in January 2010. Thawley was personally sidestepped into the vacant CEO role by IFS chair and Members Equity Bank board member (and prominent industry super figure) Sandy Grant after her unsuccessful bid to become CEO of Members Equity Bank in late 2009. The summary appointment of an outsider to such a key role, with its high profile among the close-knit super network and oversight of the long-running multimillion dollar industry fund advertising campaign left may super hopefuls looking to fill the plum position severely disappointed.

Within the FSU, the majority of union resources are devoted to holding the line industrially with the big banks and insurers and active recruitment of new members. The ongoing turmoil at IFS smacks of the management tactics and values more commonly faced by the union in its battles across the rest of the finance sector rather than the collegiate relationships that have characterised dealings within industry super with its historical union links and influence.

Opinion is divided within the union as to whether the events of 2010 represent simply a settling-in period with a new CEO seeking to mark their ground or whether the hard-line tactics reflect a sea change at IFS. The next round of enterprise bargaining will be the test. Expect some behind-the-scenes involvement of the ACTU if the FSUs worst fears are realised.

Telstra by the minute? Is Telstra about to switch all of its residential telephony services to per-minute billing? One Telstra staffer seems to think so

Taking to Twitter against the boss. Hyundai has one unhappy camper in its tent …

12-01-2011 12-02-12 PM

Peter Fray

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