License article

Unions forced to give 24 hours' notice before worksite inspections, under new legislation

Show comments

Unions will have to give at least 24-hours written notice before entering work sites under new legislation introduced by the government.

Flagged late least year, the changes will make it harder for unionised sites to stop work if workers judge it to be unsafe.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said it would mean the end of "construction unions using safety as an industrial weapon", but the Queensland Council of Unions said it would enable the small number of "disreputable employers" the time to try and cover up work site issues.

"At the end of the day most companies do the right thing, but those who want to cut corners will use this as an opportunity to hide health and safety issues," Mr Battams said.

"Under the previous legislation, workers could call in representatives to look into any issues, but now they have to wait one day.

"If there are issues, then the Attorney-General needs to deal with them, straight up. What he shouldn't do is introduce laws which will reduce health and safety regulations for everyone."


But Mr Bleijie said it was about moving the construction industry, one of the government's much touted "four pillars", forward.

"I have personally heard of stories from hard working Queenslanders who have been locked out of their workplace because of militant union activity. Earlier this year, a major contractor lost 42 days of work due to illegal strike activity in the first year of their enterprise agreement," he told parliament, referencing the new Children's Hospital site.

"Sites are being hijacked and workers held to ransom. This practice has to end.

"This bill will restore balance to the system – there will be legitimate avenues for safety issues to be raised and dealt with appropriately but using safety to hijack sites and bully contractors on work sites will end.

"...Every Queenslander deserves to go to work, do their job without interference, get paid and be treated fairly."

Mr Bleijie said the bill should not be seen "as a lowering of safety standards" but a way to make workplaces safe without "choking businesses with paperwork and unnecessary red tape".

In a statement issued after he introduced the legislation, Mr Bleijie said workplace health and safety officers had responded to 57 right of entry disputes since July 2011 but found "the majority of safety issues raised were not immediate or imminent risks to workers".

“While a royal commission into union governance and corruption recently announced by the federal government will shine a light on similar problems, our reforms put Queensland ahead of the game in tackling them," Mr Bleijie said.

The bill has been sent for review to a parliamentary committee, but the government is under no obligation to take any of its recommendations on board.