Changes to union site entry laws will lead to conflict: AMMA

Australia’s national resource industry employer group has told a senate committee that expanding union access to workplaces will present risks to productivity, safety, and industrial harmony.

The group says a major concern in the amendment Bill is the proposal to extend trade union access to remote sites including offshore oil and gas projects.

Detailing AMMA’s objections, executive director industry Scott Barklamb said the bill fails to respond to Australia’s industrial relation challenges.

“The Bill fails to respond to existing problems with union access to worksites. In fact, it will cause more problems,” he said.

Barklamb said union entry arrangements for remote sites posed safety risks.

“Imposing greater requirements to open up worksites to unions is a recipe for significant compliance and safety risks.

“It will also encourage increased union militancy and industrial disputation.

“Whether they are complex oil and gas platforms 100 kilometres offshore and remote mining sites in the middle of the desert, these highly specialised operational activities cannot safely or practically accommodate union sightseers or salespeople,” he said.

Barklamb also raised concerns about the proposal to make lunchrooms the meeting places for union officials.

“More than 87% of Australian private sector workers are actively choosing to not be associated with a union. These people deserve to have their lunch in peace and not be constantly exposed to a union sales pitch.”

Other concerns raised include additional red-tape and unworkable requirements for employers.

However, The Maritime Union of Australia say there are no safety risks associated with union members visiting sites.

"In my 30 years of experience dealing with the offshore oil and gas sector, there has never been any safety risk or agitation that resulted from one of these visits,” deputy national secretary of the MUA Mick Doleman said.

"If any workers do not want to attend a meeting with union members, that is of course their prerogative but that should not take away from the fact that union members have a right to meet with their representatives."

The Bill awaits the second reading debate after being tabled by the Federal Government in March.


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