Nurse union faces tough time under Lib-Nats

MDM_28-10-2011_ROP_06_MKY271011battams2 etchThe Liberal National Party government in Queensland has placed unprecedented restrictions on the Queensland Nurses Union’s (QNU) right of entry to hospitals, and the rights of its members to attend union meetings, conferences and training.

“Unions have had the courage to stand up to the Newman Government and hold them to account for their record of broken promises…”
– Queensland Council of Unions President John Battam

In its latest in a raft of anti-union legislation, the Newman Government has also removed, from all Queensland unions, the right to freedom of political communication. The QNU will join other unions in a High Court challenge to the amendments, introduced by the Queensland Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie, to the Industrial Relations Act, which compel unions to run a full membership referendum before spending more than $10,000 on a political campaign

Queensland Council of Unions President John Battams said the case would outline how the LNP legislation denied union members a fair voice in the political process.

“Unions have had the courage to stand up to the Newman Government and hold them to account for their record of broken promises and their electorally unpopular plan for privatisation,” Mr Battams said. “Now unions are being singled out for special treatment.”

In other legislation, QNU officials can only be in the workplace at the invitation of management for the purpose of participating in management-convened meetings, or after giving 24-hours written notice of entry into a workplace to hold discussions with a union member, or an employee who is eligible to be a union member.

In this case an employer may give the union official written notice about where entry to the workplace can occur.

Employees are no longer entitled to attend training, conferences or other union activities during work time, or attend workplace union meetings in work time.

Queensland Health premises can no longer be used for union meetings; there will be no industrial relations education leave and no special leave without pay to undertake work with a relevant union.

Hospital administrators will no longer have to allow union information to be made available in the workplace and officials or delegates will not have to be given time during orientation programs to discuss union membership with new employees.

An authorised industrial officer must give at least 24 hours written notice of entry into a workplace to inspect time and wages records.

An overpayment may now be deducted from an employee’s final payment. For the purpose of recovering overpayments, an employee is taken to have ceased employment regardless of whether they begin new employment or resume previous employment as a health employee.

There is no longer a specific requirement for written consent in relation to recovery of overpaid wages.