On 12 October 2017, the Senate Committee which inquired into the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill 2017 tabled its report in Parliament. The Senators on the Committee divided upon party lines with Government Senators expressing support for the Bill, and Labor and Greens’ Senators expressing opposition to the Bill. The Bill, if passed, would make it more difficult for the proposed merger between the CFMEU, MUA and TCFUA to proceed.

On 14 September 2017, Ai Group made a submission to the Senate Committee expressing support for the Bill, and Ai Group appeared before the Committee at a public hearing on 28 September 2017.

The Bill would amend the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 to respond to various recommendations of the Heydon Royal Commission, and to implement other policies announced by the Government.

The Bill would:

  • Introduce a public interest test for amalgamations of registered organisations (i.e. unions and registered employer associations), which will allow relevant matters to be taken into account such as each organisation’s record of compliance with industrial laws;
  • Expand the categories of ‘prescribed offence’ which lead to automatic disqualification of a person from acting as an official of a registered organisation (i.e. a union or registered employer association);
  • Allow the Federal Court to issue orders prohibiting officials of registered organisations from holding office if they contravene a range of industrial and other relevant laws, are found in contempt of court, repeatedly fail to stop their organisation from breaking the law, or are otherwise not a fit and proper person to hold office in a registered organisation;
  • Allow the Federal Court to cancel the registration of an organisation on a range of grounds including corrupt conduct by officials, repeated breaches of a range of industrial and other laws by the organisation or its members, and the taking of obstructive unprotected industrial action by a substantial number of members;
  • Allow applications to be made to the Federal Court for other orders, including suspending the rights and privileges of an organisation or an individual branch or division of an organisation where its officers or members are acting in a manner that is inconsistent with the rights and privileges of registration; and
  • Expand the grounds on which the Federal Court may appoint an administrator to a registered organisation.

If you would like more information about the proposed legislative amendments, please contact Ai Group’s Workplace Advice Service on 1300 55 66 77.

If you would like assistance in conducting negotiations with unions, please contact your local employment, workplace and industrial lawyer in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, Melbourne or Brisbane or email Ai Group Workplace Lawyers at info@aigroupworkplacelawyers.com.au.

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