11 JANUARY 2023 – The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) has called for an overhaul of workplace laws to encourage union membership, give union delegates and organisers greater powers, and increase workplace protections for union members.
With the return of multi-employer bargaining, the need to recognise the work unions do in lifting wages and improving conditions for all workers – not just union members – is more urgent than ever.
Union members are having to do more of the work of fighting for decent pay and conditions that benefit non-union workers. Union delegates and organisers have to wade through oceans of unnecessary and complex red tape to do their jobs, and union membership doesn’t have the protection it needs.
A new set of workplace laws that recognise and enshrine the value of union membership is long overdue.
AMWU National Secretary Steve Murphy said:
"Imagine walking into a fishing club or a footy club and demanding all the benefits without being a member. You wouldn't even get through the door.
"But that's the situation we have at the moment in our workplaces. Many thousands of workers benefit from the outcomes of collective bargaining agreements fought for by unions, but don't join union members in the fight for higher wages, safer conditions and better workplace rights.
"Right now, workers are actively discouraged from joining unions by biased laws. These laws make it harder for union delegates and organisers to do their job and provide no protections for those workers who want to step up and fight for their rights.
"These laws are designed to makes unions less effective – which, in turn, makes them less attractive for potential members. It's been a vicious cycle – one orchestrated over decades by big business and their mates in the parliament, to strip working people of their power and rights.
"It's time these biased and outdated laws were scrapped.
"Non-union workers should be encouraged and supported to join and participate in unions that benefit them - particularly when collective bargaining agreements are winning them higher pay and better conditions.
"Union delegates and organisers should be free to do their jobs without having to agree to restrictive workplace rules designed to obstruct and make their roles harder.
"And workers should be free to organise collective action without the threat of punitive legal action hanging over them."
Media contact: Alex McKinnon 0419 286 145