The Turnbull government is trying to pass a law that would allow an employer or business group or the Employment Minister to act to sack a union leader or deregister a union.
Changes to the Registered Organisations Act would give employers or the government the power to interfere with the operations of unions.
The proposed Ensuring Integrity law would allow the minister or “a person with a sufficient interest” – such as an employer – to apply to the Federal Court to have a union official sacked or to shut down a union. It also creates a public-interest test that would make it harder for unions to merge.
ACTU Secretary Sally McManus described the bill as “the most anti-union law we have ever seen”.
“It’s an unbelievable attack on our democracy. Free, independent unions are essential to a strong democracy. This is in breach of our international obligations. Only authoritarian regimes interfere in this way to stop working people making decisions about how their union is run,” she said.
Labor’s workplace spokesman Brendan O’Connor told The Sydney Morning Herald the bill was “another salvo in the Turnbull government’s relentless assault on workers and their unions”.
“Institutions like the IMF and OECD are warning that declining union density and collective bargaining are contributing to stagnant wages and growing inequality.
“So it is beyond comprehension that this government would want to further undermine workers and their unions, which is what this bill does,” he said.
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash defended the proposed law saying it would “ensure the Commission considers the record of the organisation and its officials in complying with the law”.
Sally McManus says the Turnbull government has double standards with “one set of laws for corporations and another for working people”.
“It seems under the Liberals there is one set of rules that apply to them and their mates and another set that applies to the rest of us.
“Unions are not businesses. We are independent organisations run by unpaid volunteers who have one purpose – to advance the interests of our members.
“We are campaigning to win better rights because the pendulum has swung too far in favour of employers. That is the real reason the Turnbull government is trying to get these extreme laws through parliament,” she said.
Contact a Senator and tell him to stop this bill!
The Ensuring Integrity Bill was introduced into parliament on August 16 and is being examined by a senate committee. It will be debated in the Senate during October.
The ACTU is urging union members to adopt a crossbencher from their state and contact them on social media or through their electorate office and tell them we will not accept this attack on our democracy.
The two NSW senate crossbenchers are:
(02) 6277 3197