Our Bill MBA is not impressed but I am not sure Setka is very good at pulling his head in, even it suits the Labor government.
Here’s the news re the CFMEU pulling out of CBus on the basis that CBus is an investor in projects which Grocon is managing.
Building unions are poised to axe a major industry fund over its links with Grocon, with the new head of the state’s biggest construction union, John Setka, warning there was a ”very, very strong chance” they would quit Cbus.
Any move by Victorian building unions to leave Cbus would be a huge blow to the giant superannuation fund, with Mr Setka warning $5 billion to $7 billion could be withdrawn by tens of thousands of members.
Mr Setka, state secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, said unions were prepared to cut the link with Cbus despite it being chaired by people he respected, such as former Labor premier Steve Bracks, and having on its board a string of senior union figures including ACTU president Ged Kearney.
”Our members are really dirty that a fund like Cbus, which has been virtually created by union members, has given work to an anti-union company,” he said.
”We’re not copping this stuff any more … If someone is giving money to an anti-union company that has tried to smash the trade union movement, we’ve got to send out the signal that this is what happens.”
Mr Setka added. ”We’ll fight people industrially and also fight in the boardrooms. These people can’t handle that.”
A coalition of building unions started pushing for change in the investment practices of Cbus in the wake of the Grocon dispute last August and September. That confrontation was sparked by a disagreement over the appointment of shop stewards and the wearing of union insignia.
Grocon is pursuing the CFMEU for $10.5 million. After calling for expressions of interest, the unions’ advisory panel received applications from five funds, including Cbus.
It is understood that industry fund BUSSQ is a front-runner and has been rated better than Cbus on fees, governance and on member choice. Despite its size, Cbus was also rated as offering the fewest investment choices, with nearly 100 per cent of members in the ”default” growth fund.
A final recommendation is expected by the end of April, with unions set to pass on that advice to members.
But the union campaign has attracted strong criticism, including from Labor and Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten.
”I do not believe that industrial relations disputes should be ever played out at the boardrooms of superannuation funds, full stop,” Mr Shorten said last November.
”What matters is the best interests of the members of the fund.”
Mr Setka hit out at the criticism: ”People like Bill Shorten that try and warn us about not playing games with super funds, as far as we’re concerned it’s our money; it’s one thing they can’t do anything about, it’s our money.”
Mr Setka revealed the national executive of the CFMEU, covering all its branches, had also backed the push.
Cbus invests in a range of funds including Colonial First State, which has a strong relationship with Grocon and is using it for building work on a $430 million redevelopment of 5 Martin Place in Sydney. In 2011, Grocon built a 29-level tower in Sydney for Cbus and another fund.
The level of antipathy has extended to the CFMEU rejecting financial support from Cbus at the Labour Day races on Monday, which the union sponsors. Mr Setka said unions would also target Commonwealth Bank, which owns Colonial First State.
”Any bank that supports Grocon will be a target of a union campaign,” he said.
In related news, CFMEU (Victorian branch) has been trying to bully Boral into refusing to supply Grocon. In what looks like a classic case of secondary boycott which is illegal, Rod Sims at the ACCC has shown no interest in this matter. He is busy spending all his time making sure we pay more for our supermarket purchases.
A number of subcontractors have been bullied by the CFMEU and have decided to refuse to deal with Grocon. Again, no press interest in this matter or concern on the part of regulatory agencies.