New Cbus 'opt out' regime raises eyebrows

16 June 2020

Major building industry fund Cbus has e-mailed building industry workers informing them that unless they specifically opt-out from doing so, then they will have been taken to have consented to the superannuation fund providing their details to union officials and delegates to pursue unpaid superannuation guarantee contributions.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) is the dominant union in the sector.

The email, a copy of which has been obtained by Money Management, provides members with an opt-out hot button, but makes clear the superannuation fund is moving to a new system and references Industry Super Australia (ISA) data around unpaid SG contribution amounting to $6 billion a year.

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“From 1 July 2020 we are shifting to a new system in which members can opt out if they do not want to participate in this service and we will no longer be asking third parties to gain member consent,” the Cbus e-mail states.

“If you do not want Cbus to provide limited personal information to enable a union delegate or representative to check the status of your super contributions to assist in identifying and recovering unpaid super, then you can simply opt out of this service. Opting out has no impact on other services and options provided to you as a Cbus member.

“If you do not opt out then we will assume that you consent to us providing the below types of information to union officials and delegates. However, if you change your mind you can opt-out later using the options available below,” it said.

“The type of information which we provide is:

  • Name
  • Application form has been signed
  • SG contribution amounts received in last six months
  • Date SG contributions received and the time periods they are paid for
  • If salary sacrifice payment received (no amount shown)
  • Employer name and ABN.”

The e-mail has been signed by Cbus group executive, member and employer experience, Marianne Walker.

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I would not have thought this possible under the Privacy Act.

Did anyone bother to have a look at the LI profile of this person? I did.
As Group Executive Member and Employer Experience at Cbus Super Fund, she holds (wait for it):
A Bachelor of Arts in Music Theatre from the WA, APA

That degree doesn't get a tick under recognised degrees for FASEA requirements ,so how the hell can you be a Group Executive member of a very large super fund ???
Maybe she is allowed to occupy this position through recognition of years of experience and expertise in her field, rather than relevant qualifications ??
With that sort of degree though, I am sure the quality of singing and dancing at the Cbus Executive Xmas party would be well choreographed and the performances simply outstanding.

Oh - and by the way, your union membership needs to be paid as well. We deduct this as fees from your superannuation contributions - if we are receiving them from your employer whom we will harass on your behalf or just shut them down! Signed - Your friendly union rep - on behalf of our happy members! The Party thanks you for your contribution.

Their union dues need to bi-ennial opt in as well, not just auto rollover bank/credit card deduction.

nothing like free and informed consent. I wonder if the branch stacking fiasco on 60 mins went down further rabbit holes it would get to the industry fund union relationship details

This is the most transparent piece of information to date that clearly demonstrates the significant level of control the unions have within Industry Super Funds.
It is unsurprising the CFMEU will be overseeing this process like the stand over heavy weights they are renowned for.
When the CFMEU receive such a massive proportion of donations from Industry Super Funds via the re-direction of director's fees, is it any wonder they want to protect their income stream.
There is a clear incentive for the union to ensure that all payments are up to date.
In the 2013/14 to 2016/17 financial years, the CFMEU received $2,884,168 of donated monies from Industry Super Funds Directors fees. (This is payment for what ???).
Now, the re-directing of these fees to the CFMEU could be seen as payments to the union for acting as an "enforcer".
We have seen how the CFMEU culture operates.
The Labor Party is helpless in controlling them...all Albanese did was kick John Setka out of the party (although Setka apparently resigned) but they couldn't remove him from the union.....solidarity runs deep and when you are facing an experienced street fighter, you better know how to punch and punch hard.
So, now CBus has employed the stand over tactics to employers and sneakily implemented it as an Opt Out.
The fund well knows the majority of the members will not act and therefore be included.
Tim Wilson should be jumping all over this like a bull ant.

Yet these members are given no option to 'opt out' of the intrafund advice fees they are forced to pay – cross-subsidised personal advice that most members never receive (ie fees for no service).

What if they aren't actually union members? In the CBus application form does it ask this question? Apathetic members may simply not respond and have their data given to an organisation they aren't a member of. I thought trustees required opt-in because clients weren't good at responding to requests.

Is this just a referral information for the union to add members, I don't work in construction but have a CBus super fund what happens to my information? limits on what that union can do with my information? looks like they can do a lot with information according to 60 mins

Whatever happened to people asking for the service first not being forced to opt out breach of privacy laws surely...

I had two questions in my FASEA exam on what constitutes "sensitive information" under the Privacy Act. The OAIC should act on this. The failure of the OAIC to act on this issue is dereliction of their legislative duty. ‘sensitive information’ (includes information or opinion about an individual’s racial or ethnic origin, political opinion, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or criminal record, provided the information or opinion otherwise meets the definition of personal information)[3]

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