Apr 27, 2012

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A one-time union ally of beleaguered Health Services Union chief Kathy Jackson has publicly withdrawn his support for the former student politician as industrial relations minister Bill Shorten moves to dissolve her crumbling Victorian ALP powerbase forever.

Andrew Crook — Former <em>Crikey</em> Senior Journalist

Andrew Crook

Former Crikey Senior Journalist

A one-time union ally of beleaguered Health Services Union chief Kathy Jackson has publicly withdrawn his support for the ailing former student politician as industrial relations minister Bill Shorten moves to dissolve her crumbling Victorian ALP powerbase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. Indications that the dispute is about Jackson's personal fiefdom came yesterday when Jackson told the Sydney Morning Herald that she welcomed acting deputy secretary Gerard Hayes' call to place HSUEast in administration to "finally...bring the continuing racket to an end'', while at a press conference just hours later, said than an identical move by Shorten was a "cheap political stunt". Along those lines, it would have been nice if the media had pointed out the background to the charges levelled against Jackson by HSU member Daniel Govan earlier in the week. Govan is hardly a political cleanskin, having run as a feeder ticket for the Conroy-aligned mayoral candidate Diana Asmar in the 2008 Darebin election in Rucker Ward, with his sister Jayne also popping up on the ballot paper in the adjacent Cazaly Ward.

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16 thoughts on “HSU: NUW withdraws Jackson support as Shorten moves in

  1. Jenny Haines

    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.

  2. shepherdmarilyn

    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.

  3. SBH

    Suzanne Blake – your defence of Jackson if you please?

  4. David Hand

    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.

  5. SBH

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

  6. lilac

    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.

  7. David Hand

    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.

  8. shepherdmarilyn

    Pssssr. David, the HSU is no in parliament.

  9. David Hand

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

  10. shepherdmarilyn

    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.

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