The members of the Health Services Union, who are some of the most poorly paid in the country, have reacted angrily to revelations in the Temby report that the union's boss and his family received millions of dollars from their hard-earned union fees.
The Temby report, which was leaked to the Herald yesterday, was the result of an internal investigation into allegations of corruption within the union. The inquiry was conducted by barrister Ian Temby, QC, and accountant Dennis Robertson.
The report disclosed that Michael Williamson, who has run the HSU for 15 years, was on a salary of almost $400,000 while his family and friends were among the highest paid officials of the union.
Mr Williamson's wife, Julieanne, received almost $400,000 from 2005 until 2009 for supposedly scanning and filing old union files.
Mr Temby is particularly critical of this transaction. "Assuming that the work was actually done, and done by Mrs Williamson alone, and she worked a 37.5-hour week throughout the 50-month period - collecting folders, dismantling and collating them for scanning, week after tedious week for 52 weeks of the year - then she was being paid at a rate close to $34 per hour plus GST … a high hourly rate for what appears to be basic clerical work."
Mrs Williamson declined to be interviewed by Mr Temby, but she wrote to him saying: "I felt I should have been charging $200ph, as the work was downright disgustingly filthy."
Katrina Hart, head of the HSU Randwick Campus Branch, said: "That makes me absolutely sick.
"Some of these people get $19, $20, $21 an hour. Some people have to take deceased patients down to the morgues; they have to wash people that are deceased. When a limb gets amputated who has to get rid of it? Us. How dare she say that, and then we've got the people who are scrubbing toilets and keeping this hospital clean. How can she say that?"
Another member expressed disgust at the millions of dollars from union funds paying Mr Williamson's personal architect Ron Mah Chut. Mr Mah Chut confirmed he had charged Mr Williamson less for doing his personal architectural work because of the large fees he was receiving from the unit.
The report noted that Mr Mah Chut was being paid $200 an hour for one day of every week, which amounted to $88,000 a year. On top of that Mr Mah Chut received a 2 per cent spotter's fee for every building purchased by the union.
"Ron Mah Chut got paid 2% for scouting the $5.7 million property that took soooooooooo long to find. Oh wait, it was just 1 level up from the HSU head offices," one member said in an email.
Other union sources said the latest revelations would do nothing to stem the flow of members leaving the union, which has had a 20 per cent decline since the Herald first raised the allegations of systemic corruption within the union last September.
Vandy Kang, a former HSU East member and a drug and alcohol counsellor in Surry Hills, quit the union in disgust just before Christmas last year.
"It makes me angry and very upset. We are lower paid workers and have paid the union for years and years so to hear of the misuse of union fees is very hurtful to me. This is a democratic country. How can you let this group of people abuse members' fees for so many years?"
The union's national president Chris Brown said: "The Temby report is important because now we've got basically an objective document that tells us exactly what went on and who is responsible and how it came about.
"That will enable us now to put some of the final pieces of the jigsaw together in terms of cleaning up the union and ensuring that we can get it back on track."
Mr Brown also said that many of the people named in the report had already been removed from office.
"The administrator is working hard to put in place proper policies and procedures that will ensure that the issues that have been raised in the Temby report cannot recur.
Mr Brown also had a swipe at whistleblower Kathy Jackson. "The fact that Kathy Jackson went to the police and was instrumental in getting Temby up is good because she had the allegations. Unfortunately, I think if she bought the information that she had, the allegations, to the national executive then we would have been able to act more thoroughly than the fiasco that's ensued."
Ms Jackson responded saying, "For Chris Brown to stand before the media and say he's doing everything he can when in fact Chris Brown told me when I went to him that it was nothing to do with him, that it was my problem and I had to deal with it internally, and here he comes out on his white horse trying to say that he saved they day when in fact he has done nothing of the sort.
"What needs to happen now is that we need to have free and open elections without any interference and more importantly what we need [is] to see the Temby report implemented. We need to see justice delivered to the union members and more importantly we need to see a union that's cleaned up and acts in the interests of its members and not its officials," Ms Jackson said.