Bikie Amin Fakhri
takes up an enterprising pursuit
Standing nearly two metres tall and
weighing more than 150 kilograms, Amin Fakhri makes an
impression wherever he goes.
For years, Fakhri's presence has been felt
in Sydney's outlaw motorcycle gangs. The hulking Comanchero
has been a regular police target and faced court in 2006
over possession of an illegal firearm.
Gear shift: Comanchero Amin Fakhri had
an unexpected career change in 2011, joining a labour
hire company. Photo: Supplied
But in 2011, the shaven-headed and bearded
bikie had an unexpected career change: He became the new
manager of a labour hire company for city building sites.
Fakhri, a plumber, according to reports of
his court case, was appointed manager of United, also known
as Active Labour Hire, by its owner, Sydney businessman and
former bankrupt George Alex.
An associate of both men says Alex knew
what he was doing when he put Fakhri in the top job.
''Amin is a bikie, not a labour hire
specialist,'' the associate says. ''But that is the point.''
Alex has been successful in Sydney by
cultivating ties with influential officials of the NSW
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), who
in turn gave his company an enterprise bargaining agreement,
which meant his workforce could be placed on any site in the
Alex, who declined to be interviewed,
wanted the same deal for United in Melbourne, and sent
Fakhri south. One of United's first moves was to was bring
in local underworld boss Mick Gatto to help negotiate with
the Victorian CFMEU branch.
It is believed Gatto was paid tens of
thousands of dollars to act as a consultant for United. Soon
enough, United had an enterprise bargaining agreement in
Victoria, despite the union's distaste for labour hire
companies because of the belief they led to the loss of
full-time jobs for members.
Alex's firm was now ready to compete with
other labour hire companies for Victorian jobs, including
those that had already provided payments and gifts to union
figures to get their own enterprise bargaining agreements.
A Victorian union shop steward with ties
to Melbourne's underworld was encouraged to send work
The support from NSW and Victorian CFMEUs
for United has puzzled owners of other labour hire companies
which have been unsuccessful in securing enterprise
agreements, particularly as Alex's companies had a record of
going bust and owing workers money.
A former associate calls Alex a
''financial ghost''. Tax authorities have been chasing him
for years in regards to his labour hire and construction
business spread across Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
But he has remained on reasonable terms
with some officials within the NSW CFMEU. Union state
secretary Brian Parker told Fairfax Media last year that
Alex had always acted ''in a professional manner'' and paid
his workers fully and on time. ''George comes across as
extremely professional … He sticks to his word,'' Parker
On Monday, Parker said he did not have a
social relationship with Alex and had not played any role in
promoting his company on the Barangaroo project.