Criminalising secret payments between employers and unions


This week the Turnbull Government will introduce vital legislation banning secret payments between unions and employers.

The new laws will criminalise payments or other benefits passed between employers and unions that could have a corrupting influence.

Any union leader who is willing to accept benefits from an employer is placing themselves in a highly compromising position.

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption found that such payments corrupt union officials and should be banned.

Penalties will apply equally to employers and unions. The person offering or making the benefit will be subject to the same penalties as the person soliciting or receiving it.

Those who make, receive, solicit or offer payments or benefits intended to corrupt a union official will face a maximum 10 years in prison, up to a $900,000 fine for an individual or $4.5 million fine for a company.

Penalties for payments or benefits other than specified legitimate payments (such as genuine membership fees) will be 2 years in prison, up to a $90,000 for an individual or $450,000 for a company.

The Bill will also require that any legitimate financial benefits obtained by an employer or union during enterprise agreement negotiations be disclosed to employees.

If money changes hands between an employer and a union, both parties have an obligation to honestly disclose these payments to their employees and members.

These vital changes will deliver on three key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.

The Turnbull Government is acting to ensure that employers and unions act in the best interests of their employees and members.

Bill Shorten and the Labor Party should now support this reform to clean up the unfair, secretive, and often corrupt payments that have tainted Australian workplaces for decades.