More than $18 million has flowed from industry super funds to trade union organisations over a three-year period, the Institute of Public Affairs has found.
In a report titled Rivers of Gold released late last week, the libertarian think-tank exposed the monetary links between a number of industry superannuation funds and the the labour movement – a move its authors say may not be in the interests of members.
The report states that industry fund directors’ fees are being used to financially support union activity, as a large number of fund directors are also trade union officials.
“Industry super funds are being used as a vehicle to transfer millions of dollars from hard-working members to the trade union movement,” said report co-author and IPA policy director Simon Breheny.
While many industry fund members are blue collar and non-professional sector workers, Mr Breheny points out that just one in 10 Australians are now a member of a trade union, questioning whether the significant spend of member funds is justified.
The three largest recipients of fees from the industry funds are the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), United Voice and the peak body Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), which received $2.8 million, $2.3 million and $2.05 million respectively.
The Finance Sector Union was the organisation with the lowest level of industry fund financial support at $1.7 million.
The funding received by trade unions vastly exceeded the payment of directors fees to employer and industry groups, which received a total of $2.07 million combined.
The IPA has proposed that the payments between industry funds and trade unions cease.
“Significant efforts should be made to stop members’ funds being funnelled from industry funds to the union movement,” Mr Breheny said.
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