Apr 3, 2017

The sneaky new legislation that could hobble trade unions (and seriously hurt workers)

And are the provisions of the corrupting benefits legislation even enforceable?

Charlie Lewis — Journalist

Charlie Lewis


The Fair Work Amendment (Corrupting Benefits) Bill 2017 quietly received its first reading in Parliament last month. Aimed at what the government calls "sweetheart deals" between business and unions and introduced to coincide with a blistering attack on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's integrity, the bill creates two new offences.

The first makes it an offence to give, receive or solicit a "corrupting benefit," while the second makes giving cash or an in-kind payment to unions, apart from certain exceptions detailed in the legislation.

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2 thoughts on “The sneaky new legislation that could hobble trade unions (and seriously hurt workers)

  1. Paul Munro

    The Fair Work (Corrupting Payments) Bill is a further step in the Coalition jihad against collective organisation of labour and particularly employer collaboration with registered unions. The Bill proceeds from and compounds the wool-blinded perspective framed up in the Heydon Royal Commission proceedings and Report. What most surprises me about these developments is the relative silence, indeed the whited-sepulchre hypocrisy, of many major employers and their peak councils who have applied influence and resources to achieve workplace outcomes that suited their priorities. The de-registration of the BLF and the struggle between unions to take over its coverage was only one of a number of dynamics that reinforced active employer involvement to produce satisfactory outcomes to avoid militancy on worksites or produce stable industrial relations settings. In Victoria, employers almost fell over themselves to secure agreements witht he AWU in-reference to having a more militant CFMEU on a worksite; the prohibitions on the scope of registered agreement making by the Reith and Abbott Workplace Relations laws meant that hitherto legitimate industrial matters, like delegate training, dispute settlement by arbitration, access to external trade union training, redundancy rights preservations had to be shelved or dealt with as “side-contract matters”; much as employers disliked having the CFMEU to deal with, many found the AMWU under Workers First leadership even more abhorrent. One measure used fairly widely for major projects was to to build into arrangements, and resource, on-site delegaterepresenation, health and safety training conducted by the favoured union and facilitated access to a dispute settling capacity. The Workplace Relations Commission, in relation to the biggest projects, backed up those arrangements by having a dedicated member of the Commission allocated to trouble shoot incipient problems. Instances abound but some that come to mind are the Olympic Games construction projects, ( much of the work done under the State tribunal); the Worsley mining project in South Australia, and the various Road construction and Tunnels projects in Victoria. On my reading of the Royal Commission transcript and proceedings I saw no evidence of understanding of that background; indeed I saw much evidence of blind ignorance in the Counsel Assisting and the presiding Commissioner. The ( Corrupting Payments) Bill compounds that one-eyed disregard for the practicalities of legitimate non-corrupt co-operation between mature employers and registered unions to achieve effective stable collective bargaining and employee representation in industries and across major projects.

  2. old greybearded one

    How about one for donating to parties in the expectation of a return?

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