TWU moves against crit­i­cal Qan­tas rep


A Qan­tas em­ployee widely recog­nised for help­ing other air­line staff over many years has been threat­ened with ex­pul­sion from the Trans­port Work­ers Union for crit­i­cis­ing the fi­nan­cial man­age­ment of its lead­er­ship.

Ge­orge Oie, a win­ner of mul­ti­ple “del­e­gate of the year” awards, has been sum­moned by the TWU’s NSW branch boss, Richard Olsen, to ex­plain “dis­parag­ing com­ments” he made to The Aus­tralian.

Mr Olsen has told Mr Oie in writ­ing that he wants him to ap­pear be­fore the TWU’s ad­min­is­tra­tive com­mit­tee to say how the union should deal with his al­leged con­duct and fu­ture mem­ber­ship sta­tus.

The TWU’s move against Mr Oie, who served as head union del­e­gate in the Qan­tas bag­gage han­dling sec­tion at Syd­ney air­port for 26 years, fol­lows pub­lic com­ments he made in Fe­bru­ary crit­i­cis­ing the union’s fi­nan­cial losses and al­leged “bad gov­er­nance”.

Dis­ci­plinary ac­tion ap­pears to be the lat­est fall­out from in­ter­nal lead­er­ship ruc­tions that first burst into the open when long-time branch pres­i­dent Ge­orge Clarke re­signed in protest at Mr Olsen’s union spend­ing.

Mr Oie be­lieves he has al­ready been un­fairly pun­ished for join- ing Mr Clarke in crit­i­cis­ing the TWU’s lead­er­ship. He was abruptly dumped as head del­e­gate in Fe­bru­ary when the TWU or­dered a no-con­fi­dence vote in Mr Oie to be con­ducted among Qan­tas bag­gage han­dlers.

Mr Oie claims the bal­lot lacked cred­i­bil­ity be­cause it was held dur­ing a sin­gle hour when only 33 out of 70 mem­bers were ros­tered on.

Mr Oie is a past win­ner of the ACTU’s “del­e­gate of the year” award for suc­cess­ful cam­paign­ing to have ca­sual work­ers em­ployed full-time at Qan­tas. He has also won the TWU’s in-house union del­e­gate awards for dou­bling mem­ber­ship at Syd­ney air­port, and for en­sur­ing 18 women who lost their jobs were re­in­stated.

Re­spond­ing in writ­ing to Mr Olsen’s de­mands, Mr Oie has asked the union boss to be more spe­cific and trans­par­ent about any charges against him. He signed off as “elected head del­e­gate of SIT bag­gage”, re­flect­ing his re­fusal to ac­cept his oust­ing.

Mr Oie told The Aus­tralian he had com­plained about his treat­ment to the of­fice of ACTU sec­re­tary Sally McManus but had re­ceived no reply.

Mr Oie’s Qan­tas job could be in jeop­ardy as well. He is ab­sent from work af­ter be­ing re­ferred to the air­line’s doc­tor for stress, and says he is re­ceiv­ing no pay af­ter ex­haust­ing his sick leave.

Mr Olsen, who took over the TWU’s largest branch two years ago, did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

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