On 22 March 2017, the Government introduced the Fair Work Amendment (Corrupting Benefits) Bill into Parliament which addresses a number of key concerns that Ai Group pursued during the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.
The Bill would require bargaining representatives for a proposed enterprise agreement to disclose any financial benefits that they would receive from the proposed agreement, before the agreement is voted upon by employees. Unions are deriving very lucrative and inappropriate revenue streams from the contributions made by employers to certain worker entitlement funds and from particular insurance products which employers are coerced to purchase at inflated prices. Typically, unions insist that terms about these entitlement funds and insurance products be included in enterprise agreements.
Members have advised Ai Group that they can purchase income protection insurance for as little as 1/5th of the cost of the insurance products that the unions force them to purchase, while providing more generous insurance benefits to employees. This highlights that unions and the insurance companies that they are aligned with are reaping huge, inappropriate financial rewards at the expense of employers, employees and consumers.
The disclosure requirements in the Bill will shine a light on these inappropriate revenue flows. Hopefully, this Bill will be followed by further legislative amendments to more comprehensively address the millions of dollars each year which flow to unions from these inappropriate sources.