On 16 August 2017, the Federal Government introduced the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill 2017 into Parliament. The Bill has been referred to a Senate Committee inquiry.
The Bill amends the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (RO Act) to respond to various recommendations of the Heydon Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.
The Bill would:
- Introduce a public interest test for amalgamations of registered organisations, 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 prohibit officials from holding office in a registered organisation 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.
The public interest test for union mergers will be particularly important in the context of the proposed merger between the CFMEU and MUA.
The Senate Committee inquiry into the Bill is required to report to Parliament by 9 October 2016.
If you would like assistance in negotiating with unions or in dealing with industrial disputes,
please contact your local employment, workplace and industrial lawyer in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, Melbourne or Brisbane or email Ai Group Workplace Lawyers at firstname.lastname@example.org.