Membership-selling organisation fails at the first test
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 127 No 7, 30 September 2022, page no. 21
For those of you who have been following along, last year the QTU and two members were challenged in the courts by a business selling memberships. It suggested that the QTU and our members had in some way breached its businesses rights. After around 18 months of legal work, the judge found in the QTU’s favour. The case brought by that organisation failed at the first test.
The court found that the Fair Work general provisions did not apply to the organisation, thus rejecting the fundamental basis of the claim and rejecting that organisation’s application. The QTU also outlined why the matter failed another six or seven tests, but the judge went no further than that first test.
This is what we’ve come to expect from businesses purporting to be a union – they focus on a single issue and do not have the breadth and experiences of real unions such as the QTU. They cannot do the things the QTU can do because they are not a registered organisation and therefore a union under the state Act. These organisations do not have the DNA of unions such as ours, and do not have the ability to address the issues that arise as a result of the complexity crisis being faced by our membership.
That’s the benefit of being part of a real union – we work together, campaign together and win for the collective, we don’t march to the beat of a single drum. We also don’t resort to threats or insults when cornered. We pride ourselves on acting in a way befitting of our profession – if we don’t show how our profession and our members should be treated, then how can we call on others to treat us with the respect that the profession deserves?
Over the coming months, members will become aware of amendments to the Queensland Industrial Relations Act. Among other things, these will:
- prevent and limit forms of harassment in the workplace
- ensure EB negotiations are focused on achieving gender pay equity in agreements
- modernise some minimum employment leave standards
- introduce important and accessible consumer law protections to protect workers against misrepresentation
- clarify the status of registered unions.
This means that the new Act will provide clarity to members about what real unions do. This includes a clear definition of an industrial organisation – i.e. a body registered as an organisation under the Act or a pre-registration organisation.
It also identifies that an industrial organisation is not a corporation or an incorporated association.
The purpose of the amendments is to protect workers who choose to belong to unions. Unions must exist to protect and promote their members’ interests. A real union doesn’t focus on single issues, instead it acts to improve the working conditions, in our case teaching conditions (and therefore learning conditions), of members – regardless of how complex and how many issues occur at the same time.