Carpenters union leadership in doubt
By Michael Bull
MELBOURNE — The leadership of the Victorian branch of the Association of Carpenters and Joiners has been changed twice in the last few weeks following revelations that large sums of money have gone missing.
On December 21, the ASC&J's office manager was charged by the Carlton CIB with the theft of $119,248, which amounts to more than 10% of the union's annual income. The manager has maintained her innocence, but the court case will not be heard until April.
On examination of the police report, it was discovered that the money had gone missing over a 12-month period, all of it allegedly stolen in cash. The smallest amount in one day was $100, the largest, on April 4, 1990, $18,712.50.
The range and size of these figures led a group of ASC&J members working with a former federal industrial officer, John Parker, to lay charges of gross neglect against each member of the union executive. A February 12 general meeting voted to sack the leadership en bloc and then elected a new executive from those in attendance.
The newly elected leadership then took over the building and for the next six days ran the office and serviced members. The immediate plan was to call for statewide shop stewards' meetings to endorse a proposal for new elections.
But a Federal Court decision on February 18 reinstated the old leadership for the interim period until a court case can be heard in May to determine whether the actions have been legal.
On hearing the decision, John Parker said "members should rise up and demand new elections to decide on the fate of the union". Rank-and-file members are still working towards this goal.