15 May 2014

CFMEU and CBUS data breach

Funding in Tuesday's Budget for the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Trade Union Governance and Corruption ($53.3 million over two years) dwarfs that of the abandoned Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

As the RC proceeds we will presumably hear evidence following up the claims earlier this week that -
The private financial details and home addresses of hundreds of non-union workers were allegedly leaked by one of the nation’s biggest super funds to building union boss Brian Parker as part of an industrial campaign. The allegations will be forwarded to the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Privacy Commissioner by Lis-Con, the construction company targeted by the campaign. 'The alleged breach will spark debate about unions' control of industry funds.' '
Fairfax reports that it has obtained "a leaked database" with the private details of over 400 CBUS superannuation fund members allegedly given to the NSW Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union branch secretary without the knowledge of those members, most of whom are not union members. CBUS manages over $20 billion for around 700,000 contributors.
A signed statutory declaration, provided by a union whistleblower who assisted [CFMEU NSW Branch  Secretary] Parker after he allegedly obtained the leaked information, states it was used to help formulate an industrial campaign against a company that had been fighting the CFMEU in legal cases in several states. 
"State secretary Brian Parker told me that he had a contact in CBUS who could discreetly ... leak him the information he asked for," the statutory declaration says. 
"A short time after this, he came to my office and gave me a printed copy of the information he said was supplied to him. He said to me to keep this document secret and not tell anybody else." 
It has been confirmed the database was used by the NSW CFMEU to call the private phone numbers of South Australian, Queensland and NSW employees of construction company Lis-Con. The NSW CFMEU branch allegedly received the information from CBUS after senior union leaders met in Sydney last year to discuss ways to attack Lis-Con. Relations between the company and the union became extremely hostile when the company's management lodged defamation writs against the CFMEU in Queensland and Western Australia. 
The union whistleblower said: “They were a company the union wanted to squash. The leaked information was intended to put enough pressure on them so the word would get out that they were not a company contractors should use.” The construction workers were quizzed about their entitlements to get them to put pressure on the company's management. In a small number of cases, the workers allegedly were falsely told the call was being made on behalf of CBUS.
Parker has issued a statement denying any knowledge of the allegedly leaked database or how it arrived at the CFMEU.

Fairfax states that there is no suggestion the CBUS board knew of the leak, with a CBUS spokesperson indicating the allegations will be the subject of an internal investigation.
"The sole purpose of the disclosure of any personal information [of workers] ... is to ensure the payment of fund members’ superannuation entitlements," the spokesman said. "Any disclosure made or used for purposes other than this would be of serious concern to CBUS. "The fund has only recently become aware of the specific allegations raised. They are currently subject to investigation and review at a number of levels, including being subject to internal investigation."