Briefings: Laws Unto Themselves
I n April, the Queensland government introduced two pieces of legislation into parliament which affect all union members in the state. Amendments to the Industrial (Commercial Practices) Act were rushed through parliament in around two hours without prior public notice; these are now law. Amendments to the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act to introduce "voluntary employment agreements" or contracts were tabled and it is the government's intention to have them passed in August. The changes are the most radical restructuring of industrial relations in the state since the introduction of conciliation and arbitration in 1916. The anti-strike provtstons of the Commercial Practices legislation are some of the most severe of any western BRIEFINGS democracy. The contract provisions are likely to reduce the employment conditions of private and public sector workers and undermine existing union organisation.