FWC needs to take cautious approach to new union delegates rights

“Ai Group is urging the Fair Work Commission to take a cautious approach to the development of any new union delegates rights under the Closing Loopholes legislation. This is vital given the new laws require the Commission to develop these new rights through rushed and truncated proceedings that won’t allow it time to properly examine the impact they will have on different industries,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.

“The recently passed legislation requires the Commission to insert new terms in all awards dealing with delegates rights. In some circumstances these terms will even override less favourable enterprise agreement terms negotiated directly between employers and their workers.

“This has opened the door to the union movement pursuing an entirely unrealistic shopping list of claims for problematic and unjustified new entitlements for union delegates that extend well beyond anything announced by the Government when it introduced the laws.

“They range from proposals for employers to provide union delegates with iPads to requirements for employers to pay for delegates to recruit members during working time, lobbying Governments, and even watching Commission proceedings that the union decides to pursue against them.

“The provisions are a particular nightmare for small business owners who have neither the time nor the expertise to deal with a union official standing over them in the workplace.

“Undoubtedly this will be used as a weapon for intimidation in many sectors of the economy at a time of increasing business closures, real economic volatility and enormous stress for many employers.

“The proposals are particularly unjustified given only a tiny proportion of private sector employees want anything do with a union. The union proposals are clearly directed at saving flatlining union membership levels rather than genuinely improving compliance with workplace laws.

“Employers will be left to pick up the bill.

“Ai Group is fully engaged with the Commission’s proceedings in this matter and strongly putting the case for commonsense to prevail and the more outrageous union demands to be rejected outright,” Mr Willox said.

/Public Release. View in full here.