Union claims exaggerated on union accountability laws

18 Jul 2019 |

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Australia’s employer representative to the United Nations’ International Labour Organisation (ILO), says union opposition to proposed legislation to ensure unions comply with our laws is exaggerated and self-serving.

Commenting on a paper commissioned by the ACTU from the International Centre for Trade Union Rights, an organisation funded and previously headed by the ACTU, into the proposed Ensuring Integrity Bill, ACCI’s Director, Workplace Relations, and employer member of the Governing Body of the ILO, Scott Barklamb said:

“Critical comments from a union-funded think tank overseas should be taken with a pinch of salt when considering our laws here in Australia.

“Being a trade union or employer representative should not give wrongdoers immunity from legitimate legal accountability, or from the need to meet community expectations on proper governance and compliance with the law.

“The ILO’s key conventions in this area, the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No.87) and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No.98), do not exempt unions from laws on governance and accountability.

  • The ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association accepts the capacity for countries to apply proper standards or legal governance and accountability to trade unions and employer bodies, particularly where these apply generally to comparable commercial, community or charitable organisations.
  • And the ILO accepts the capacity for independent courts to be able to dissolve union or employer bodies in serious cases, subject to a right for unions to be heard in court.

“This no more than what the proposed Ensuring Integrity Bill is designed to achieve.

“The union campaign against the Ensuring Integrity Bill ignores the recommendations of a Royal Commission and seeks to give unions a free pass from the standards our community expects.

“Unions don’t like the proposed Ensuring Integrity Bill because it will stop a small group of union officials with deep pockets, arrogant attitudes, and combative lawyers from thumbing their nose at our laws and courts.

“The Ensuring Integrity Bill will have no impact on unions or their officials that comply with the law and the findings of our courts.

“We urge Australia’s Federal Parliamentarians to support the Bill on its merits. They have an opportunity to endorse respect for our laws and community standards; and reject exaggerated assertions from a union think tank on the other side of the world.”

The Australian Chamber is Australia’s largest network of employers, speaking for over 300,000 businesses employing millions of Australians in every sector of the economy, in every corner of Australia. Our Small Business is a Big Deal campaign gives voice to what small businesses need from the federal government, and our Getting on with Business recommends ways to make Australia the best place in the world to do business, so that Australians have the jobs, living standards and opportunities to which they aspire. 

Emily Kennelly

Senior Adviser – Public Affairs and Advocacy

P  |  0438 730 772

E  |  [email protected]

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