Raid on TWU a 'payback'

May 6, 1998

Raid on TWU a 'payback'

By Bill Mason

BRISBANE — Transport Workers Union (TWU) Queensland secretary Hughie Williams described a raid on the union's Brisbane office by officials of the Employment Advocate as a "payback" for the TWU's court action against the organisation.

TWU staff refused to give EA inspectors access to union membership books when they arrived unannounced on April 29. Williams said his union was inundated with calls from members demanding that the TWU refuse to give the EA their personal details.

The TWU is taking legal action in the Federal Court against the EA — a body established at the federal level under Peter Reith's Workplace Relations Act — claiming it has no power over state-based unions.

While the EA is supposed to mediate between employers and workers, its role has been to spy on unions, and victimise union delegates and officials.

Williams said the raid was "legally and morally reprehensible ... If we wanted to inspect an employer's time and wages books, we would contact that employer, in writing, and ask", he said. The EA claims it wanted to check TWU membership records to see if the union was refusing to accept resignations from members.

The TWU's court action was in response to a prosecution against union officials and delegates over allegations they breached "freedom of association" provisions of the WRA during discussions with non-union members at a major transport company last year. The TWU has stressed that the prosecution was victimisation of delegates for attempting to convince workers to join the union.

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