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.