The Morrison LNP government’s current legislative attack on unions will open the door for rogue employers to act without fear of punishment, unions say.
A Senate inquiry hearing today in Brisbane into the federal Coalition’s Ensuring Integrity legislation will hear how these proposed laws would hinder the ability of unions to operate effectively for their members.
Queensland Council of Unions Acting General Secretary Michael Clifford said the laws were a deliberate attempt to curtail unions while letting off rogue employers.
“These laws are a basic attack on human rights and undermine the freedoms we have in Australia,” he said.
Mr Clifford questioned why employers who breached industrial laws did not face the same punishments as unions.
“If an employer is convicted of wage theft why isn’t that business then outlawed and prevented from operating?
“If a worker was to stop work to protest over an employer’s wage theft that could leave the worker and their union open to prosecution and under this Bill would now leave a union official open to disqualification and the union open to deregistration. Meanwhile, the employer could continue to trade.
“When an employer sacks large sections of their workforce by text, without consultation, as occurred on the Brisbane waterfront in 2015, why are there no serious legal consequences for the employer. Yet when workers respond with industrial action, they face prosecution and their union would now deregistration.
“If people stop work because of short staffing or because their jobs are being outsourced and their boss is not consulting, as has happened in the banking industry, workers and their union faces fines, and the union would face deregistration.
“These laws deliberately aim to curtail the ability of unions to represent workers, and independent community organisations like churches, charities and legal groups have called out the government on this.
“It’s a clear attempt by Morrison to stop any community opposition to his economic and industrial agenda that favours the rich and powerful and big business employers,” he said.
“Unions not only represent workers but also fight for communities and many Australians will be left vulnerable if unions are hamstrung by these repressive anti-democratic laws.”