Finance Work Tough union laws considered

Tough union laws considered

Labor says proposed anti-union laws are a declaration of war on Australian workers. Photo: AAP
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Trade unionists would be given 15 minutes to leave a picket line under tough new regulations being considered as part of a royal commission into unions.

The rules would be aimed at breaking up illegal picket lines which have been ordered by a court to disband.

A union organiser who doesn’t comply with the police directions could be banned from working with a union, the discussion paper floated.

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Another recommendation suggests unions and employers could face bans of up to $17 million if they were found to have taken or paid a bribe, according to the document.

John Setka's conduct has come under scrutiny.
CFMEU Victoria boss John Setka has come under scrutiny.

The discussion paper marks a key point in the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, which has been operating since March 2014 and has interviewed 239 witnesses by the end of that year.

The commission was seeking opinions about possible penalties it can recommend for corruption, the findings would need to be legislated in Parliament.

The object is to create a similar legal environment across states, which have various laws on extortion, blackmail and the payments of secret commissions, Fairfax reported.

“The fact that the commission is continuing to see such issues suggest the current laws are not effective or adequate,” counsel assisting the Commission Jeremy Stoljar said.

He said the $17 million fine would likely target a large corporation found to have committed the most serious offence.

Under the move-on proposal, anyone at a picket that was not already authorised and which has been the subject of a court order to shut down could be told by a police officer to move away.

Under the proposal, if they don’t leave they would be guilty of an offence and that offence would be grounds for disqualification from union office.

“Of course, such a provision could have no operation in the context of, or so as to impede or prevent, the conduct of a peaceful and lawful industrial dispute,” Mr Stoljar said as Fairfax reported.

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