AUSTRALIAN Resources and Energy Group AMMA is calling on the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) to follow through on its assurances that any unprotected industrial action arising from this week’s “Change the Rules” union rallies will be appropriately investigated and prosecuted.

The FWO’s assurances come after the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) leadership has openly and repeatedly stated their disregard for Australia’s workplace laws, including inciting workers to “walk off the job” to join the coordinated national union rallies starting tomorrow.

“In a democracy people don’t get to pick and choose which laws to follow,” said AMMA Chief Executive Steve Knott.

“In May, thousands of workers from the Port of Melbourne, construction sites and other workplaces stopped work to attend an ACTU rally which disrupted the CBD and shut down Australia’s busiest port.

“The lack of regulator response at the time, feeds into a position where activists like Sally McManus believe they are above the law. There is nothing special about Australia’s workplace laws which makes them optional. If left unchecked these attitudes will seep into other areas of our society.”

In a letter sent to the FWO and the Australian Building and Construction Commission earlier this month, AMMA outlined practical ways the regulators could better prepare for and respond to unlawful industrial action arising from the national union rallies.

AMMA has also noted the ineffectiveness of past approaches by the FWO to unlawful industrial action, including encouraging employers to commence Fair Work Commission proceedings to order employees to return to work.

“If you get caught speeding, you don’t get options or a caution, you get a ticket,” Mr Knott said.

“The FWO suggesting to employers they seek Fair Work Commission involvement is both ineffective and an abrogation of their responsibilities.

“In May, several employers sought Fair Work Commission assistance before the ACTU rally commenced, however the hearings and return to work orders occurred after the rally concluded.

“AMMA strongly encourages the FWO to use its $110 million in annual funding and 700-odd staff to fully investigate and prosecute any unlawfulness arising from the ACTU’s national rallies this week.

“This isn’t about employers, employees, unions or the right to peacefully protest. It’s about ensuring that one of Australia’s largest, best-funded and most important regulators is effective in upholding the rule of law and deterring all members of the community from wilfully breaking it.”

Click here for a PDF of this release, including provisions of the Fair Work Act affording the FWO its powers and responsibilities.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brad Thompson, 0409 781 580