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Salient. Victoria University Students' Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 25. October 4, 1976

Laws Fascist in Nature

Laws Fascist in Nature

The discussion which followed centred round the proposed amendments to the present Industrial Pelations Act; most important of which are
a)Introduction of penaltics for failure to observe disputes procedure - in effect this means that every union and every officer of that union must prove (to escape penalty) that they took all possible steps to ensure compliance with the disputes procedure and to prevent the strike. This puts the onus on unionists to prove themselves innocent (a complete reversal of the principles which lay the foundations of our justice system!). It also places them in the invidious position of doing Employer/Govt "dirty-work" - strike breaking.
b)Such fascist (in nature if not intent) legislation as that included under the heading "Offence to Strike or Lockout in Respect of a Non-Industrial Matter". It states that every person who becomes party to, or incites, instigates, aids or abets a strike or lockout on any nonindustrial matter will commit an offence and be liable on conviction to a fine, not exceeding $500 in respect of every such breach.
c)Such widely interpretative legislation as that of Section 2(%) "Failure to resume work where the Public Interest is Affected". Here the Industrial Court is asked to evaluate something which most economists could not agree upon - what constitutes a serious threat to the economic health of the economy! One could seriously question whether any consistency of interpretation is possible wiht such a widely drafted power.
2.Another interesting amendment was the proposal to make provision for a secret ballot on the question of union membership. Contrary to the policy outlined in the National Manifesto which promised secret ballots in all unions, the proposed legislation states "the minister may from time to time, by notice of the registrar, require a ballot. In effect this means that weaker unions e.g. clerical workers may be threatened with such ballots if they propose any sort of direct action in the future - "Behave or your membership will be ballotted."
3.Introduction of a clause entitled "suspension and debarrment of union officials" Under this any union official convicted of an offence involving an illegal strike may have an order placed against him disqualifying hint from any further official participation in a union, either for life or for a specified period. The notable feature of this legislation is the dangerously wide number of people who may apply for such an order