||Issue No. 324||15 September 2006|
Interview: Australia’s Most Wanted
Industrial: The Fox and the Contractor
Unions: Industrial Wasteland
International: Two Bob's Worth
Economics: National Interest
Environment: The Real Dinosaur
History: Only In Spain?
Review: Clerk Off
No Secrets On Union Agenda
The report 'A Fair Go At Work', based on a high-level international fact finding tour, earlier this year, recommends a system based on good faith collective bargaining with the onus on employers to prove this is not what the majority want.
And where a dispute emerges, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission would be empowered to order a ballot where employers resist union involvement.
The IARC would have the power to determine the will of the majority, by petition, workplace resolution or, as a last resort, through a secret ballot.
Rejecting the US model of up-front recognition ballots, where unions must win 50 per cent support to even get in the door, unions would maintain the right to represent members regardless of density.
"In short, ballots should be a last resort," delegation member and Unions NSW assistant secretary Mark Lennon told Workers Online.
In contrast, US laws require a majority of workers to vote before a union comes to the negotiating table, deny members the right to be represented.
"What you would find is that battlegrounds would not be n on-union wo0rkplace who want a collective deal, bust established sites where union-busters would attempt to purge the workplace of the collective" Lennon says.
Another key element of the plan is good faith bargaining - the union proposal would no longer allow employers to lock out workers and refuse to offer anything other than individual contracts.
"If a majority of workers want a collective agreement the law should require their employer to respect that choice," ACTU secretary Greg Combet says.
"If, as John Howard and his big-business backers assert, workers don't want collective agreements, let the workers themselves have a say in that choice.
"In a free and democratic society the views of all organisations including unions, and ultimately the views of citizens themselves, must be properly considered - something that is not happening in Australia."
The proposal will be debated at the forthcoming ACTU Congress in late October before becoming ACTU policy.
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