|Issue No 48||31 March 2000|
ILO Condemns Australian Labor Laws
The International Labour Organisation has asked the Federal Government to review key labour laws following complaints of anti-union discrimination over its role in the 1998 Patrick waterfront dispute.
ACTU secretary Greg Combet says the Australian Government is fast becoming a global pariah because of its dogged determination to flout international humanitarian standards following the overnight vote in Geneva.
The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association has been investigating complaints against the Government from the ACTU, the MUA, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, and the International Transport Workers Federation of:
· Anti-union discrimination
· Interference with strike and boycott action
· Restrictions on picketing
· Violation of collective bargaining rights
· Interference with the rights of affiliation with international workers' organisations
Among other recommendations, the ILO will ask the Government to:
· Amend the 1996 Workplace Relations Act, saying it 'noted with concern' that linking restrictions on strike action to interference with trade and commerce could impede legitimate strike action.
· Take 'necessary measures', including amending the Trade Practices Act, to ensure that workers can take sympathy action in support of a legal strike.
· Take 'necessary measures', including amending legislation, to ensure that Australian Workplace Agreements do not undermine the right to bargain collectively.
Combet says the latest breach of international standards would fuel the growing perception that Australia was out of step with world opinion.
"This is yet another breach of faith to the Australian people. Australia was one of the founding members of the United Nations. Now this Government is consistently acting against UN conventions," he says.
"Right now, the UN is investigating Australia for serious breaches over racial discrimination, alleged migrant detention centre abuses, and mandatory sentencing.
"The evidence against Peter Reith's Workplace Relations Act is mounting. The criticisms of his secret individual employment contracts (AWAs) demonstrate just how unfair his system really is. The Workplace Relations Act has now been found in breach of so many international conventions that there will surely be a day of reckoning.
"No doubt the Howard Government will ignore and ridicule these latest criticisms from the ILO. What the Government should do is immediately act to bring Australia's industrial laws into line with international standards."
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005