Union boss’s violent past comes to light

Jim Metcher, the NSW secretary of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) and the longest-serving union leader in the country has been accused of hiding his violent past from the Fair Work Commission.

This includes his brutal domestic abuse of his daughter and ex-wife. He is expected to face the Fair Work Commission on the coming December 2 for failing to disclose assault charges when the commission declared him a “fit and proper person” for a right of entry permit earlier this year.

The Australian Financial Review has reported that Metcher, who headed the union branch for 20 years and is a backer of federal Labor MP Ed Husic, pleaded guilty in 2008 to six assault charges involving allegedly spitting at, punching his wife in the head 20 times and punching his daughter in the face 10 times.

These charges had been dismissed due to Magistrate Geoff Dunlevy imposing a medical exemption that required Metcher to see a psychiatrist but the AFR reported that according to documents from the NSW Department of Justice, the court accepted his guilty pleas.

Metcher’s lawyers told the AFR that they were instructed Metcher had not pleaded guilty to any charges and that the charges were dismissed under the Mental Health Act and mentioned that a police statement of facts was not evidence of what was alleged.

These charges which have come to light for the first time raises questions about Metcher’s openness with the commission and the integrity of the right of entry system, which clears union officials to enter employer premises.

Metcher’s position was called into question earlier this year after he failed to disclose he had been charged with assault for allegedly shoving and head-butting his the CEPU national assistant secretary during bargaining at Australia Post in 2013.

The charges were ultimately discharged on the basis of a diversion plan, where Metcher accepted responsibility for the offence but no conviction was recorded.

In May, deputy president Jeff Lawrence said “there is an obligation on applicants for permits to disclose any possibly relevant matter” and that Mr Metcher should have disclosed the incident.

Moreover, he deemed Metcher to be “fit and proper” after considering there had been no conviction recorded and “there has been no other stain on Metcher during his long career as a union official”.

This being said, Metcher failed to disclose six counts of assault, including actual bodily harm, against his family.