Labor backs ban on bargaining fees

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Labor backs ban on bargaining fees

The Federal Government will formally ban bargaining fees in the Workplace Relations Act in Parliament on Monday - with total support from the ALP.

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The Federal Government will formally ban bargaining fees in the Workplace Relations Act in Parliament on Monday — with total support from the ALP.

Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey, yesterday put out a statement announcing the legislative move and tried to 'wedge' Labor on the issue.

Hockey claimed that Labor's Forward With Fairness IR policy statement said that 'bargaining parties will be free to reach agreement on whatever matter suits them' and that therefore this could include bargaining fees charged by unions to non-members for negotiating a wage rise.

No 'non-lawful' matters

However, Labor's IR spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, has repeatedly stated that 'non-lawful' matters could not be included in agreements, and the freedom of association provisions would preclude bargaining provisions being included.

Immediately Hockey put out his statement, Gillard replied:

'Newspaper reports today claim the Howard Government will introduce legislation to ban bargaining fees on Monday. Consistent with Federal Labor's policy and stated position on bargaining fees, Labor would obviously support legislation banning bargaining fees.'

Dead issue

So unless Hockey has something 'tricky' included in his legislation, bargaining fees would seem to be a dead issue as far as the election goes.

However, the ALP endorsement of the Government's position has not pleased some of the more radical elements of the union movement.

'A disgrace', says ETU leader

Electical Trades Union (ETU) Victorian Branch Secretary, Dean Mighell, called it a 'disgrace', and said it was 'beyond my understanding that they could even contemplate it'.

He accused the ALP of trying to 'smack the unions so it looks like a friend of business'.

Mighell said the ALP could have a policy that it was going to 'shoot every union official at dawn', and it would still cop criticism from business.

He said the party should stop trying to be all things to all people and instead represent the workers and the unions who supported it.

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