Retrospective anti construction union laws introduced in Parlt

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Retrospective anti construction union laws introduced in Parlt

Legislation which will make unions involved in unlawful industrial action liable for fines of up to $110,000 as well as substantial uncapped compensation for those affected by it was introduced into Federal Parliament today.

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Legislation which will make unions involved in unlawful industrial action liable for fines of up to $110,000 as well as substantial uncapped compensation for those affected by it was introduced into Federal Parliament today. 

The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, said the legislation will apply retrospectively to any unlawful industrial action taken from today. 

The legislation also allows for fines of $22,000 for ‘other’ than body corporates such as unions.

The legislation also gives inspectors under the Workplace Relations Act the power to bring prosecutions, and that will include officials from the Building Industry Task Force.

Pressure for new agreements

Andrews said the legislation had been introduced in recognition of the fact that ‘the industry has been recently subjected to intense industrial pressure by the CFMEU to sign new agreements which put the vested interests of unions ahead of the future welfare of workers and the industry’.

‘The legislation, which has already been welcomed by the industry, means that as of today, action taken by building industry unions trying to break current agreements is likely to be unlawful,’ Andrews said. 

The Government is also amending the Workplace Relations Regulations to initiate prosecutions for industrial action prior to the expiration of a workplace agreement. 

Andrews said the Federal Government will also consider intervening to uphold the law, on a case by case basis, where employers utilise the Workplace Relations Act to respond to unlawful industrial action. 

Construction industry issues

Andrews said the Howard Government remains ‘absolutely committed to ending the lawlessness and criminality which continues to stymie the nation’s $46 billion building and construction industry’. 

Andrews had earlier hinted that the backdating period would be much longer. 

In an interview with journalists he said: ‘this legislation has been in the pipeline for not just months but years now, we sought to pass it through the Parliament last year.  

‘So the entire industry, whether it’s the business owners and construction companies themselves or the unions have been on notice that this has been the intention of the government.’ 

He also said he expected the retrospectivity of the legislation would survive a legal challenge by unions. 

Related 

Construction unions to face massive fines, compensation payouts 

Building crackdown back on the agenda

 

 

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