The Abbott government has recently vowed to move ahead with plans to alter the country’s workplace laws which would see unions facing difficulties entering workplaces.
In addition to being kept off work sites, the government is also planning on imposing limits on the ability of unions to receive large payment deals on new resource projects, according to employment minister Eric Abetz.
According to reports in the media, a government bill is to be introduced in the autumn parliamentary session to remove the current rights of unions to enter into workplaces at their will. While the unions have condemned these plans and claim that they will have an adverse effect on workplace safety, the government believes the current rights of the unions are too “excessive”.
According to Abetz, the bill will be consistent with the Coalition government’s pre-election workplace policy. He said the government would also seek to remove the provisions that currently make the lunch rooms of work places the common meeting place for union rep visits.
Under the amendments the changes implemented last year which allowed unions to access remote workplaces will also be scrapped.
According to Senator Abetz the amendments come following a decision by The Fair Work Commission which revealed that members of the construction union had been abusing their rights and entering a number of projects in South Australia, deliberately and regularly misusing their power and taking advantage of right of entry laws. These “right of entry” laws would be changed to make them more in line with what Julia Gillard proposed during the 2007 election. They would now be more defined and stipulate who can enter and mandate that there be a genuine reason for doing so.
Despite the current government’s confidence in the move, it has been opposed by the Greens, implying that they may battle to get the changes passed by the Senate. However Abetz said it was important because the right of entry laws was becoming too costly to businesses and was negatively impacting on workplace productivity.
The new proposed bull would also strip unions of their power to delay the start of new projects. It would also address the issue of unions supposedly getting high wages for refusing to up to greenfield agreements. Now businesses can take their proposed greenfield agreement to the commission for approval if it has not been completed in 3 months.
Obviously the unions are opposed to the changes which they say will negatively impact workplace safety because employers will be given the freedom to do as they please on worksites without the fear of getting caught. The CFMEU said if the amendments are passed we can expect workplace injuries to increase as most employers value profit and productivity over worker safety.