Unions Faulted For Abusing Right To Inspect Workplaces

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Union interference poses a threat to the residential sector unless the health and safety laws governing the sector are overhauled. This is according to a warning issued by the commercial building industry.

A proposal by Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie requires all unions to provide a 24hr notice before visiting a workplace.  In the proposal, health and safety representatives, chosen by fellow workers, will lose the mandate to stop work even where worker’s safety is compromised.  The laws, if passed, will bar unions from closing down workplaces over claims of poor safety standards.

Unions have already registered their displeasure with the laws claiming they will lead to a high number of fatalities.

The reforms were on Wednesday endorsed by employer’s groups during a forum held in parliament.  According to Warwick Temby, who is the Housing Industry Association Executive Director, more disputes, low production and low profit margins are some of the outcomes of unnecessary union interference.  The forum heard that in one instance, a broken toilet led to a three day closure of a construction site.

“Should such misuse of entry provisions shift to the residential sector, it is likely there will be detrimental effects on small and medium businesses,” Mr Temby said.

The changes call for enhanced response to critical incidents within the workplace.

“They already have those plans now, but they will have to revisit them and realize that they do have obligations to manage critical incidents without any union involvement for at least 24 hours,” he said.

Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) president John Battams informed the hearing that the aim of these reforms was to neutralise the influence of unions.

“It is a proposal to handcuff the two people (unions and health and safety representatives) who make a difference,” he said.

“Any independent observer would say that the removal of those two representatives would see health and safety conditions decline.

“The vast majority of employers want to do the right thing, but others will want to cut corners to save costs at the expense of their workers.”

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