Democrats Reject Reith’s Anti-Union Bill

Senator Andrew Murray - Australian DemocratsThe Australian Democrats have rejected the key elements of Peter Reith’s “second wave” industrial relations changes.

The Workplace Relations Minister has proposed legislation which would further strip industrial awards of conditions, require secret ballots on strike votes, and introduce user-pays mediation processes. The bill also attacked union rights to enter workplaces and redefined the definition of a closed shop.

Senator Andrew Murray, the Democrats Workplace Relations spokesman, has said the bill “went too far.”

The legislation, dubbed the “More Jobs Better Pay” bill, was the subject of a Senate Committee Report released yesterday. Senator Murray issued a minority report.

The campaign against the legislation included a media campaign by the Australian Council of Trade Unions around the slogan “just say no”. A rally attended by about 500 workers was held yesterday outside Reith’s office in Melbourne.

The legislation now appears to be facing certain defeat before Christmas. The “first wave” of industrial reforms were passed in 1996 with the support of the Democrats under the then leadership of Senator Cheryl Kernot.

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