Fighting For Your Rights At Work

Workers' rights are human rights...and your right to access your union is enshrined in law. So what happens when that right is challenged?

In a shock decision recently, Fair Work ruled Murdoch University’s staff Agreement could be cancelled, leaving rights and entitlements of more than 3,000 staff in limbo. The University claimed their Agreement was outdated for modern business.

But why does 'modern business' have to mean cuts to pay, attacks on job security and loss of entitlements? Why do we justify going backwards after years of fighting for secure jobs and better conditions?

The cost to the Tertiary Education Union to fight the EBA cancellation was over $1million.  It’s both a massive financial and industrial blow for the sector.

Other Universities are expected to follow, leaving thousands of people across the industry waiting to see if their employer wants to undermine their rights at work too.

Historically, Universities have led the way in working conditions, such as introducing paid maternity leave before many other employers -  including the public sector.

But it seems now, more than ever, it’s important to fight for your rights at work and as many reports are showing, union membership is a fundamental part of winning those fights.

These battles are even being fought over the most fundamental workers’ rights – your access to your union.

Recently we won an important case for the rights of people working in the public sector, particularly those in WA Police.

After making the required prearrangements with a WA Police facility, organisers were denied entry on two occasions. After some discussion, they were later escorted to a lunchroom to meet members, but they were confined to that area alone.

Members believed that this went against the Right of Entry legislation, which guarantees people at work fair access to their Union.

Members raised their concerns with us and we took the breach to the Industrial Magistrate’s court, where the court ruled in favour of our claim.

Right of Entry is an important industrial instrument, making sure workplaces across Australia are treating employees fairly. Denying a Union fair entry is against the law.

Workers don’t have to go into back rooms and they don’t have to be secretive just to talk to a representive about their working conditions. The Union is there to help, provide information and resolve any issue within the workplace.

WA Police were fined for breaching the Industrial Relations Act 1979 and Public Service Award 1992 by delaying, hindering and obstructing entry to the premises and failing to comply with rights given to the Union.

A member from Police said they were proud to see the Union uphold member’s rights.

“We should be proud of this win because it sends a clear, concise message to the employer that the Union will support their members by ensuring that rights at work are protected and any attempt to erode those rights will not be taken lying down. 

“We are entitled to speak freely to our Delegates and Organisers and our employer should respect that, aside from it being an entitlement. We should be free to access them without asking for management approval.” 

This is the first time in a decade that CPSU/CSA has had to prosecute an employer  for wrong doing, but the result sets an example to employers who are looking to restrict workers access to their Union.

“Union members over the years have fought long and hard to get these rights and we need to make sure they are enforced.” 


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