Know your rights: union members and delegates
Did you know that your right to join and be represented by the VHPA is protected by law?
Under the Fair Work laws, all Australians have the right to join and be represented by a union. Employers are prohibited from taking ‘adverse action’ against you as a union member or delegate. This means you are protected from being:
- Discriminated against by your employer — such as having your pay raise withheld when other employees receive it;
- Refused a promotion when you meet the requirements for it;
- Dismissed or prevented from being employed (or reemployed when your fixed term contract ends) because you are a Union member or have engaged in industrial activity.
If you feel you have been dealt with unfairly because of your union membership and take it to court there is a reverse onus of proof on your employer. This means it is not up to you to prove you were discriminated against but your employer must prove he or she didn’t.
Also, the law protects you further in that being a union member does not have to be the sole reason for your employer’s ‘adverse action’ or even the main reason — it only has to be one of the reasons.
A successful adverse action case by a VHPA member or Delegate can lead to:
- An injunction to stop the adverse action or threatened adverse action;
- Reinstatement if the adverse action was dismissal;
- Compensation; and/or
- The individual or employer who committed the adverse action being fined.
Only last month the Federal Court imposed heavy fines on cardboard giant Visy Packaging for taking adverse action against a union representative who sidelined two defective forklifts on the grounds they were a health and safety risk.
“The upshot is that there are much greater protections for union members and delegates under the current Fair Work laws than there were previously,” said Alex Leszczynski, VHPA Senior Industrial Coordinator.
“Members should feel secure that their rights to be active in the VHPA are fully protected.”
>> If you are getting special treatment (and not in a good way) for being a union member or delegate please contact VHPA Member Assist