The Senate's decision to reject the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and Registered Organisations bills is a win for the rights at work of millions of Australians.
These proposed laws are a key part of the Federal Government's agenda to weaken unions and attack our rights at work.
Since coming to office the Abbott Federal Government has attempted to pass laws that strip away rights at work and launched the Productivity Commission review of workplace relations that has recommended cutting penalty rates and introducing new enterprise contracts that will take away rights and conditions at work.
Australian Unions will continue to stand up for workers' rights and commend the Senate for rejecting the ABCC and Registered Organisations bills.
Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC)
The Federal Government's attempt to set up anti-worker bodies like the ABCC, with coercive powers designed to intimidate safety reps and union activists, would have led to more injuries and deaths as occurred under the previous ABCC.
During the period of the most aggressive activities of the ABCC in the last years of the Howard Government, workplace fatalities in construction peaked at 48 deaths in 2006 and 51 deaths in 2007, making them the worst two years for deaths in construction in the last decade.
In contrast, 30 deaths were reported in 2012 following the abolition of the ABCC – the lowest number of deaths in the past ten years.
Workers need strong rights and strong unions to protect themselves from injury and death through cost and corner cutting and the desire of many employers to put profits ahead of safety.
Registered Organisations Bill
The Federal Government's attempt to set up a Registered Organisations Commission is another attempt to hamstring unions to make it harder for them to effectively represent Australian workers.
This unfair law would have seen union officials, many who are ordinary workers in unpaid voluntary roles, subject to potentially multi-million dollar fines for speaking out on important issues such as health and safety.
The effect would have been to silence workers from speaking out and standing up for rights at work.
Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:
"Australian Unions commend the Senate for protecting the rights at work of millions of Australians by rejecting the Abbott Government's unfair laws."
"The Abbott Government has a clear agenda to attack rights at work whether through unfair laws like the ABCC and Registered Organisations bills, its flawed and compromised Royal Commission into Trade Unions or its Productivity Commission inquiry that is trying to cut penalty rates and workplace rights."
"Australian Unions will always stand up and fight for rights at work."
Media contact: Kara Douglas, 0418 793 885 or Carla De Campo, 0410 579 575