Revocation of right of entry permits referred to commission

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Revocation of right of entry permits referred to commission

A Deputy Industrial Registrar has referred an application by the Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA) for the revocation of right of entry permits, to the President of the federal Commission.

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A Deputy Industrial Registrar has referred an application by the Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA) for the revocation of right of entry permits, to the President of the federal Commission. The referral of the application was held to be appropriate for the expedient resolution of an ongoing industrial dispute between a company and a trade union over right of entry issues. (Daniels v Maher and Patti, Print S1429, [1999] 1424 IRCommA, (3 December 1999).

Background

A senior investigator with the Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA) applied pursuant to s285A(3) of the Workplace Relations Act 1996, for the revocation of the right of entry permits of two Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) organisers. It was alleged that in exercising their right of entry powers under Div 11A of Pt IX of the Act, the organisers intentionally hindered and obstructed the Royal Image Pty Ltd t/a Australian Timber Blind Manufacturing Group (the company) and/or its employees; and otherwise acted in an improper manner. 

In an affidavit, the OEA investigator identified that the matter had come to the fore as a result of a complaint made by the company, requesting that the OEA investigate. Following an investigation that involved three employee interviews, the OEA decided to instigate proceedings against the organisers with a view to revoking their permits pursuant to s285A(3) of the Act.

Legislation

Section 285A(3) of the Workplace Relations Act 1996provides that a Registrar may revoke a right of entry permit if satisfied that the relevant person or persons have intentionally hindered or obstructed any employer or employee or otherwise acted in an improper manner. Also of relevance are the provisions of s79and s285G. Section 79of the Actallows a Registrar to refer to the President for a decision by the Commission, a matter or question arising in a matter. For the purpose of proceedings such as the present one, the Commission is empowered by s285G(2) to revoke right of entry permits, if in so doing an industrial dispute would be prevented or settled.

Decision of Registrar

The Deputy Industrial Registrar commenced his consideration of this matter by examining the history of disputation between the union and the company in relation to right of entry issues. In fact it came out in evidence that the company had previously applied to the Registrar for the revocation of the right of entry permits of four union officials, including the two organisers at the centre of these proceedings. This allowed the Deputy Industrial Registrar to conclude that the dispute between the company and the union over the operation of right of entry provisions had a long and protracted history.

Therefore, in considering what further action to take in this matter, the Deputy Industrial Registrar formed the opinion that, as this matter was the culmination of a long running dispute; the matter would be more appropriately considered and determined by the Commission. The application was accordingly referred, pursuant to s79of the Act, to the President of the Commission.

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