Transparency of Union Bosses part of Queensland Health Review

Published Tuesday, 12 March, 2013 at 10:45 AM

Minister for Health
The Honourable Lawrence Springborg

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg says Queensland Health policies mandating favoured support for the political agendas of union bosses and the Labor Party are under review.

Under the failed administration of the former Labor Government, rules that required the public service to help recruit union members among health employees were implemented and remain in place.

Mr Springborg said he had brought the review forward following the curious silence from union bosses on the failed health payroll system and their silence on the recent federal Labor Government cuts to health services in Queensland.

“We now need to review whether these policies are about delivering for patients and workers, or if they are about delivering for union bosses and Labor,” he said.

“It’s my job to defend the interests of patients and health employees, not union bosses.

“These designer rules were created to favour the political goals of the Labor Party and have no place in a democracy or independent public service sector.
“Today I give notice that these rules are under review. Union bosses have two weeks to make submissions – should they go or stay.”

Mr Springborg said recent examples showed how the political alignment of unions interfered with their job of representing the interests of union members.

“When Labor bungled the health payroll project, health employees were left without pay for months on end and unions left them high and dry,” he said.

“When the Labor Party cut $103 million from health funding for Queensland, unions joined in the cover-up, even as health services and health jobs came under threat.”

Mr Springborg said the rules in question required Queensland Health to encourage union membership for its employees and were written into departmental policies, awards and certified agreements.

Under those agreements, union encouragement must proceed except by agreement with unions.

Mr Springborg said where specified in industrial awards, they could only be changed through the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.

“Both the policy and award provisions provide for payroll deductions to be made available on request from a union,” he said.

“These arrangements were signed into existence by the financial beneficiaries -  Labor and union bosses. It was a stand-over tactic to extract money from employees’ pay-packets to fund political campaigns that have nothing to do with the concerns of health employees.”

Mr Springborg said that to remove the provisions, amendments would have to be made to the Industrial Relations Act.

“These issues affect the basic rights of Queensland Health employees,” he said.

“They may wish to contribute to union activities, but they should do so without interference, particularly when it is interference funded at taxpayer’s expense.”

The Union Encouragement Policy is outlined at:

[ENDS] 12 March 2013

Media Contact: Cameron Thompson 0407 585 230