Australian labour laws have been systematically attacked, they have been rewritten to restrict people’s rights to organise, cut away at awards and restrict wage growth. The government doesn’t think twice about introducing legislation that breaches international law. The minimum wage has fallen to a point where it is no longer a guarantee of financial security. Big corporations make record profits whilst the government helps employers use labour laws to cut wages, conditions and workplace rights.
It is clear this bill is a politically motivated attack that is bad for workers and bad for unions. This is yet another example of this government's desire to limit the power of workers and their unions and to reduce their ability to stand up to the powerful. Unions are an integral part of our democracy, and when workers and unions build their collective voice and power, they have the capacity to change the way this country is run. The government finds this prospect frightening and to prevent it, they will introduce laws that are incompatible with Australia’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) commitments and will impose standards to which there are no corporate or political equivalence.
Whilst the bill purports to implement the recommendations in the final report of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption the majority of the bill goes well beyond the recommendations. Additionally, when it comes to the disqualification of a union official and the deregistration of a union, the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 already provides the court with the power to act in both of those instances.
A number of submissions, including those from Dr Jim Stanford from the Centre for Future Work, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) have highlighted how restrictive Australia’s existing industrial relations laws are when compared to other industrial democracies. In its submission, the International Centre for Trade Union Rights (ICTUR) completed an overview of trade union regulation and found:
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights reviewed the 2017 bill raising serious concerns about its incompatibility with the right to freedom of association. The Committee reiterated this opinion when reviewing the 2019 bill noting that the changes to the bill were not substantial enough to address the important concerns raised. However, despite the many objections, the Committee's report does not seem concerned by the prospect of breaching rights protected under international law.
The nakedly political attack should be rejected and the Australian Greens strongly oppose this bill.
The Senate oppose the Bill.
The Parliament pass the National Integrity Commission Bill 2018 (No. 2)