The controversial merger of two of Australia’s largest and most militant workers’ unions is under threat, after Senate crossbenchers confirmed they were in negotiations with the Turnbull Government on legislation which could block the move.
A merger of the Maritime Union of Australia and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union is set to go ahead on March 27, after it was approved by the Fair Work Commission on March 6.
The Turnbull Government has faced criticism from employers for failing to progress legislation to prevent the amalgamation of unions with a history of breaking the law.
But the Coalition is now reportedly considering changes to the Ensuring Integrity Bill which would mean mergers can be challenged right up to the date they are ratified, rather than facing a challenge prior to Fair Work Commission approval.
Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm has confirmed he is negotiating on amendments to the Bill with Workplace Relations minister Craig Laundy. The Nick Xenophon Team, which has two senators, has also confirmed talks with the Coalition.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions was quick to condemn the Turnbull Government for its direct move to block the merger.
“This is a bill that violates international law in respect to the rights of working people,” ACTU secretary Sally McManus was quoted by Fairfax.
“Working people need more power to be able to negotiate fair pay rises and get good, secure jobs. But this bill does the opposite, handing more power to corporations and political attack dogs at the expense of working people.”