Sally McManus sounds the alarm about government’s union-busting laws

Sally McManus , Secretary of the ACTU. Photo Nick Moir 30 March 2017A new tranche of industrial relations laws planned by the Turnbull government are an “attack on democracy”, according to ACTU chief Sally McManus, who says fighting them will be the next major front in the organisation’s fight against the federal government.
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The proposed laws amend the Registered Organisations Act and do three things: create a public-interest test that could make it harder for unions to merge, as the construction and maritime unions are currently attempting to do; toughen the rules that allow union officials to be disqualified; and harden up the rules that allow a union to be deregistered.

The government argues the proposed laws, which were introduced into Parliament on August 16 and are now being examined by a Senate committee, protect workers’ interests by ensuring unions comply with their legal requirements.

It says its laws simply expand the grounds a court can consider in deregistering a union, to include repeated law-breaking, serious criminal offences and corrupt conduct by union officials.

But Ms McManus said those three specific measures were “three huge problems” for the union movement, as they would allow employer and business groups – and the minister – to interfere with the operation of unions.

The draft laws state that an application for deregistration of a union can be made to the Federal Court for corrupt or unlawful conduct by a Fair Work Commissioner, Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, or “a person with a sufficient interest”.

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