Unpaid superannuation is a problem for many hundreds of thousands of workers, unions say, and it is the role of unions and superannuation funds to do something about it.
ACTU Assistant Secretary, Tim Lyons was responding to the latest developments in the Abbott Government’s royal commission the way unions are run. The commission has been inquiring into a case where superannuation fund membership details were provided to the construction industry union, the CFMEU.
Such information can be used to chase up rogue employers who are not making superannuation payments for their workers.
“As the Royal Commission has started to look at superannuation,” Lyons said “there is a danger of missing the real issue: that superannuation payments are workers entitlements and failing to pay them is a form of theft.”
"Our view is that all superannuation funds have a responsibility to fund members to ensure that superannuation, both compulsory and salary sacrifice contributions are paid in full by employers,” Mr Lyons said.
“Unions also have a vital role in ensuring that that happens.”
Lyons said that although the Australian Tax Office (ATO) had the power to investigate no-payment of super, it was under-resourced to perform that role.
“Even still, between 2009 and 2013 the ATO recovered $1.3 billion in unpaid super. Our experience on the ground is that this is a tiny part of a much bigger problem.”
The fact is, of course, that the Abbott government’s financial sector backers hate the industry superannuation funds and would love to get their hands on the billions of dollars of workers’ entitlements sitting in them. That essentially is what this element of the Royal Commission’s activity is all about.