AMMA has written to a senate inquiry to advocate for workplaces changes contained within the Fair Work Amendment (Remaining 2014 Measures) Bill 2015, including amendments to union powers to enter workplaces (right of entry laws) among others.

Introduced in December 2015, the bill is a second attempt by the federal government to enact reforms that were removed from the Fair Work Amendment Act 2014 before it was passed by the Senate in November last year.

While the legislation that passed included positive changes to greenfields agreements, protected action ballot orders, unclaimed money and unpaid parental leave, several important reforms were removed in order to secure the support of crossbench senators.

The provisions removed from the legislation last year and subsequently reintroduced to Parliament in the new amendment bill include many key reform priorities for AMMA’s members throughout the resource industry, such as:

  • Union entry powers
  • Transfer of business
  • Payment for annual leave
  • Leave while receiving workers’ compensation
  • Individual flexibility arrangements (IFAs)

AMMA’s written submission strongly supports passage of these remaining measures, highlighting priority placed on these reforms by resource employers and the practical issues they would address.

Union entry the most pressing issue

AMMA told the inquiry that union powers to enter workplaces is the most ‘significant and pressing’ of the amendments in the bill for resource employers.

“The changes in Schedule 1, Part 5 of the Fair Work Amendment (Remaining 2014 Measures) Bill 2015 are important and will improve the right of entry provisions of the Fair Work Act, which have long been and will remain a delicate legislative balancing act between the interests of employees, unions and occupiers,” AMMA states.

“These amendments update an area of regulation that needs to be reviewed periodically to account for changing practices, developments and disputes, and will improve the balance between competing interests.”

However, AMMA highlights that the union entry changes being proposed still fall well short of that sought by employers and, in-line with our members’ views, has recommended further amendments to:

  • Require a union to be covered by an enterprise agreement onsite to gain right of entry for discussion purposes;
  • Preclude a union exercising right of entry for discussion purposes to a workplace that is covered by an agreement with another union or unions;
  • Require invitation certificates to gain entry to non-agreement covered sites; and
  • Provide appropriate safeguards on the role and operation of invitation certificates for union entry, as set out above.

AMMA has also called for union officials to carry photo identification, and to amend the Fair Work Act to reference ‘union entry’ instead of ‘right of entry’.

The Education and Employment Legislation Committee is due to report on the inquiry findings by 4 February 2016.

Click here to read AMMA’s full submission.