Politics with Michelle Grattan

ACTU president Michele O’Neil on John Setka and the government’s anti-union legislation

July 1, 2019

The ACTU leadership has pushed controversial construction boss John Setka to quit his union job but its president Michele O'Neil says the final decision on his leadership rests on the union membership.

She told The Conversation “members of unions elect their leadership and that’s an important principle”.

In this podcast episode O'Neil denounces the government’s plan to bring back to parliament the Ensuring Integrity Bill - which would give the government greater power to crack down on union lawbreaking - saying it is a “very extreme and dangerous bit of law”.

“It is not about integrity, it’s a political attack,” she says, citing the ability of banks and politicians to adopt voluntary codes of practice.

O'Neil is highly suspicious of Scott Morrison putting industrial relations back on the policy agenda, with a review now in train, to which the unions, unlike business, haven’t yet been invited to contribute. But she flags they will strongly argue their case over coming months, saying “we’ve written to Christian Porter asking why he hasn’t asked to meet with us…[this] won’t stop us advocating and putting forward what we think because it’s important for workers”.

Additional audio:

A List of Ways to Die, Lee Rosevere, from Free Music Archive.

Image: 

AAP/PETER RAE