George Alex – some facts

Thousands of families are better off because of $50 million the CFMEU has recovered from cheating employers in NSW, alone, over the last five years.

More than $1.6 million secured from scaffolding, labour hire and traffic control companies associated with alleged crime figure, George Alex, pushed the NSW branch’s five-year running total past the $50 million mark.

Tony Abbott’s trade union royal commission is sitting on the detailed record.

It includes the dates of dozens of separate payments, corresponding cheque numbers from the branch’s wage claims department, and when those cheques were presented.

Details of the $1,680,017 recovered from the Alex group, between May 2012 and September this year, show that:

  •   $1,003,498.96 came from Active Labour Hire
  •   $395,718.61 was paid on behalf of Metropolis Traffic Management, and
  •   $280,800.00 came from Elite Scaffolding

More than half of the total, including the whole $280,000 from Elite, was for unpaid super contributions and has been forward to Cbus. The rest of the money is split between contributions to redundancy fund ACIRT, and general award/EBA underpayments of individual workers.

Supporting documents show the Alex Group, at one time, employed at least 206 individuals.

They reveal the CFMEU appears to have been able to extract substantial payments from retention monies held by principal contractors.

More than $280,000 was recovered for Alex group employees from outfits like Boral DMG, AGON, Lipman Pty and Steve Nolan Construction.

The latter company, which had an active property development arm, went bankrupt after pouring $150,000 into NSW Liberal Party coffers, robbing hundreds of sub-contractors and workers of millions of dollars.

The wage claim records show that Steve Nolan Construction paid $275,000 towards money owed to Metropolis Traffic Control workers on January 23, this year, but that its cheque bounced two days later.

Those events are recorded but the sum does not form part of the $1.680m back pay total.

Records show the CFMEU was still badgering the new builder, as late as September, for $105,000 it says is still owed to building workers.

CFMEU construction division national secretary, Dave Noonan, says the documented recoveries leave a question mark over royal commission process and “thoroughly discredit” Nigel Hadgkiss’ FWBC.

“Surely, any even-handed inquiry would have made public CFMEU successes that cost Alex’s companies more than $1.6m,” Noonan said.

“The fact these companies, with significant criminal links, were able to win lucrative contracts and operate on major sites is proof that the FWBC is not fit for purpose.

“This is the first time I have seen evidence of criminality on this scale in our industry and the FWBC was nowhere to be seen.

“As usual, it was left to the union to step in and defend workers’ interests. We do that when ever employers rip people off or flout safety standards but it is not our job to investigate alleged crimes. We don’t have those powers.

“The FWBC has the power but refuses to lift a finger. Instead, it tries to stop us doing our job.

“Where was the government regulator? Where was ASIC when these companies were being registered, with virtually the same names, after going broke? Where was the ATO that is supposed to recover unpaid super?

“The answer is, they were asleep at the wheel. The only people who got off their backsides and did anything to hold Alex’s companies to account were from the CFMEU.”

Noonan says the FWBC, and predecessor organisations headed by Hadgkiss, have a track record of turning blind eyes to unlawful behaviour by employers and their associates.

Noonan said FWBC inspectors took no action when union officials had been assaulted.

Nor, he said, did they “even make inquiries” when the NSW branch office was firebombed in 2010, days after the union had unmasked a rogue employer underpaying imported Indian workers and charging them to live in one of its factories.

 

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