Ensuring Integrity – the Government’s latest attack on workers and our unions.
The first order of business for the Morrison Government has been to try and push through legislation that will roll back the basic rights of working people – instead of tackling near-record low wage growth and a struggling economy. They turn a blind eye to millions of dollars lost to workers through wage theft, and instead attack workers and our unions.
The Bill is called the Registered Organisations (Ensuring Integrity) Bill but is widely known as the Ensuring Integrity Bill or the EI Bill.
During the election campaign the Morrison Government insisted that it had no plans to reduce workers’ rights despite constant questions from unions and the media. Now, Morrison has drawn from the wish lists of big business, dusting off previously failed legislation to attack working people’s freedom to organise.
The rights of workers to organise, and for members to democratically run their unions, is an internationally recognised human right, like a free press. Free unions are essential checks on the powerful in any democracy. Every single worker benefits from the work of unions; attacking unions is another way of attacking every worker’s rights.
The Australian union movement is already heavily regulated and the EI Bill goes further than any other western democracy in interfering with democratic workers’ organisations.
This is part of a wider web of erosion of civil liberties and democracy in Australia.
What does the EI Bill do?
The EI Bill would give the Government, employers, or any other party with ‘sufficient interest’ the power to intervene in the running and work of unions, disqualify people from union leadership, block union mergers, and more easily deregister unions.
If it passes in its current form the Bill would provide for automatic disqualification of a union officer for any offence under a law of the Commonwealth, a State or Territory, or another country, punishable upon conviction by imprisonment for a period of five years or more.
It would allow the ROC (Registered Organisations Commission), the Minister, or a ‘person of sufficient interest’ to apply to the Federal Court for a wide range of orders including disqualification of an officer, deregistration of a union, alteration of a union’s eligibility rules, restriction of the use of funds or property of a union and more.
It would also allow a Federal Court to disqualify a person from holding office in a union on a wide range of grounds, including that a person is not a ‘fit and proper person’ – so, for example, if they had twice been caught driving without a license.
The Federal Court would also be able to deregister a union, disqualify officers, alter the eligibility rules, suspend the rights and privileges or restrict the use of funds or property of a union or part of the union on a wide range of grounds, including findings against the union, officers or members such as filing union paperwork late with the Government authority.
It would Introduce a long and complicated process for union amalgamations which requires the Fair Work Commission to refuse an amalgamation if an amalgamating union or its officers have even minor breaches of the law, and to consider any objections of any employer organisations based on the impact they claim the amalgamation will have on employers in the industry.
And of course, the Bill does not apply to corporations or other types of elected officials like politicians.
This Bill fundamentally interferes with the democratic rights of working people to organise, run our own union and choose who represents us.
How you can help
We need to reach out to the cross bench Senators who will ultimately decide the Ensuring Integrity Bill. The idea is to explain how the Bill will impact us personally as honest, hardworking Aussies. Then explicitly ask them to vote against it.
Check out these resources to assist you including social media links.
Once you have made a comment, screenshot it or get the post link and share with us so that we can go and like/comment to support your comments. We need to keep these discussions at the forefront of the Senators’ social media!
- Comms have set up a EI Activity chat on facebook – email Mandy to be added to it.
- Very little action is required. All you need to do is write 1 tweet or 1 facebook comment a week to one of the cross bench senators.
The Ensuring Integrity laws single out unions and make it harder for workers to stand up to employers who do the wrong thing. Reject the Bill.
The Ensuring Integrity laws do not apply to banks or business. How is that fair? Do not pass this bill.
The Ensuring Integrity Bill will allow unprecedented harassment of unions and the people workers elect to lead them. Stop this Bill from becoming law.
Must use hashtags:
This ACTU Group on fb is the campaign HQ so we strongly suggest joining:
These are the Senators and their social media pages:
Check out these posts from our social media: