Royal Commission Outcomes Match Liberals' Agenda

The only surprise in the Trade Union Royal Commission’s (TURC) final report is that so little effort went into concealing its bias.

The report’s primary recommendation is the return of the ABCC and its powers to detain construction workers without charges for up to six months.

It also recommended another regulator, in addition to the Fair Work Ombudsman and the ABCC, to demand invasive personal information and threaten higher penalties and bans for union members and officials on petty administrative grounds.

The folly of the final report is that evidence doesn’t justify the ludicrous recommendations, many of which seek to simply criminalise legitimate union activity.

Oops, corporations could get caught too

By initiating recommendations to change laws and increase fines, penalties and jail time for union conduct, the TURC started weaving a web that inadvertently captures the fact that some of the conduct they are seeking to criminalise applies to businesses too, such as secondary boycotts.

The government is clearly unwilling to make corporate Australia more accountable. But it will struggle to change corporate and competition laws in a way that captures unions at the exclusion of employers.

It is for this reason that many of the TURC’s recommendations will not become law any time soon.

Breach of internationally recognised human rights, and workers’ rights

Many of the recommendations are in blatant breach of Australia’s commitments under the United Nations’ International Labour Organisation Treaty. This Treaty holds that all human beings have the right to belong to a union and to collectively negotiate with their employer.

That doesn’t just mean workers can join a union — the union needs to be free from political interference that would prevent it from using its collective power to reach a balanced outcome with employers. That includes the right to be organised and strike.

How low did the TURC go?

Commissioner Heydon never spoke to a single rank and file worker, or even to any of the main construction industry employers.

He dismissed the dangerous and exploitative conduct of employers who were the star witnesses alleging union thuggery.

Instead, the Royal Commission pursued allegations from bottom-feeder employers, like Lis-Con, who were alleging union misconduct, despite knowingly and intentionally being in arrears of over $500,000 owed to workers.

The TURC recommended perjury charges for two Cbus workers, who the TURC found responsible for attempting to assist the union to access the over $500k of nonpayment to workers.

Yet they did not recommend perjury for their star witness, Andrew Zaf, whose allegations that John Setka accepted kickbacks, and others threatening conduct for ‘whistle blowing’ at the TURC, were proven to be without foundation.

The Commission never took issue with Andrew Zaf for his poor safety record and the death of a worker on his site, or for threatening unionists with a gun.