Registered Industrial Organisations
Industrial Organisations – that is, unions – are either employer organisations or employee organisations. The requirements for registration, rules on membership, structure and control, election of office-bearers, and financial accountability of industrial organisations are governed by Chapter 12 of the Act. The following is an overview of the common matters arising in the Registry:
Registration of organisations
Applications for registration of organisations may only be made to the Commission under Chapter 12 Part 2. Under s. 607, the Commission may grant the application only if satisfied of certain conditions including: the applicant exists to further or protect its members’ interests; the rules the applicant proposes to have as an organisation are not contrary to the Act and the applicant’s name is not the same as an organisation’s name or so similar to an organisation’s name as to be likely to cause confusion.
To view the registered names, registered contact details and publishing obligations of Industrial Organisations click below:
Applications for amalgamation of two or more organisations, may only be made to the Commission. Amalgamations (and withdrawals from amalgamations) are approved under Chapter 12 Part 14. Under s. 840, the Commission may approve an amalgamation only if the process has complied with the Industrial Relations Regulations 2011, and the rules of the amalgamated organisation will comply with the Act's requirements about rules (which are in Parts 3 and 4 of the Chapter).
Part 16 of the Chapter provides for an organisation to be de-registered, on certain grounds, by a Full Bench of the Commission. For this purpose, the Bench must include the President (see s. 432(2)). The grounds for de-registration are set out in s. 878; and s. 879 states who may apply. In certain circumstances, the Full Bench can act of its own initiative to bring proceedings to de-register an organisation. The Registrar can also apply to have an organisation de-registered on one of the grounds in s. 878, or on the ground that the organisation is defunct. Under s. 885, the Commission may review an organisation to inquire whether the organisation is or may be a small organisation [i.e. for an employee organisation - less than 20 members who are employees; for an employer organisation - employer members who have, in total, employed a monthly average of less than 20 employees during any 6 month period].
Under s. 614 of the Act, the Registrar must keep a register of industrial organisations, along with copies of their rules. Each organisation must also file a copy of its register of officers every year (s. 735). The rules and the register of officers are open for inspection on payment of the fee prescribed (see ss. 614 and 737).
Industrial organisations must have rules on certain matters which are outlined in Parts 3 and 4 of Chapter 12. Part 3 covers general content of the rules, including restrictions on content (see ss. 623 and 624). Part 4 sets out requirements for rules governing election of officers in the organisation (this Part does not apply to organisations that are corporations). Elections are discussed briefly below. A copy of the rules of each organisation must be lodged along with registration details in the Registry (s. 614). These are open for inspection on payment of the fee indicated in the Schedule of the Tribunal Rules.
Under Part 5 of Chapter 12, a person who is a member of an organisation can make an application to the Industrial Commission, if he or she believes the organisation's rules do not comply with restrictions set down in s. 623. A member can also apply to the Commission for a direction that an office-bearer, or some person who is obliged to do certain things under the organisation's rules, perform those things, or observe the organisation's rules. If a person does not comply with the Commission's direction to perform or observe the rules, he or she can be penalised up to 40 penalty units. If necessary, financial assistance can be made available for applications under Part 5. This is an important avenue for members to ensure that their organisations are accountable.
The rules of an organisation can be amended, on approval by the Commission or the Registrar. If the Commission has declared, following an application under s. 646, that a rule does not comply with s. 623, the organisation must amend it within 3 months - if this is not done, the Commission or the Registrar may amend the rule to enforce compliance (s. 656). The Commission must determine an application to amend the eligibility rules (s. 662) and the list of callings represented by an organisation (s. 615). The Registrar can initiate the amendment of rules (see s. 655). Applications by organisations to amend rules may only be approved by the Registrar if they are proposed in accordance with the organisation's rules and will not contravene the restrictions set down in s. 623 (see s. 666).
If an organisation wishes to change its name, this may be done only if the amendment is proposed according to the organisation's rules and approved under the Act. Section 680 enables the Registrar to approve a simple change of the word "union" to the word "organisation". However more substantial name changes must be approved by the Commission (s. 661).
The Act requires all industrial organisations to make rules governing elections to office (see Chapter 12 Part 4). Section 628 also states a general requirement of transparency: that is, rules should ensure that election processes are transparent and irregularities are avoided.
The rules must provide for elections to be either by a direct voting system (Div 3 of Part 4) or by a collegiate electoral system (Div 4 of Part 4). A direct vote must be conducted by a secret postal ballot, or by some alternative form of secret ballot approved by the Registrar. Schedule 2 of the Industrial Relations Regulation 2011 sets out "Model Election Rules" which may be adopted in full or in part.
Industrial organisations' elections are conducted by the Electoral Commission of Queensland in accordance with each organisation's rules (Chapter 12, Part 7). This is arranged by the Registrar when the organisation notifies the Registry that it is seeking to hold an election. The Registrar must be satisfied that the election is required under the rules. The cost is borne by the State. An industrial organisation may apply to the Registrar for an exemption from having the Electoral Commission conduct an election on its behalf (see Part 12 Div 2).
Any industrial organisation with a counterpart federal organisation may apply to the Registrar for exemption from certain requirements of the Act, including the stipulations about holding elections on the ground that their federal counterparts held elections under the federal Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009.
If a member of an organisation believes there has been an irregularity in the conduct of its election, the member can apply to the Industrial Registrar under Chapter 12 Part 8 to conduct an election inquiry. If the Registrar is satisfied there are reasonable grounds and the circumstances justify an inquiry, the application may be referred to the Commission. Under s. 687, the Commission may, on an application referred to it by the Registrar, conduct an election inquiry about a claimed irregularity in an election for an organisation or branch. Such applications can only be made by members of the organisation who are financial or were financial within 1 year preceding the application.
Chapter 12 Part 11 of the Act sets out financial accountability obligations of organisations. Copies of audit reports and financial reports must be filed in the Registry in accordance with s. 784. Section 795 sets out details about the Registrar's investigations into an organisation's finances and financial administration.
Orders for Invalidity
The Act makes provision for the Commission to validate a matter or event about the management or administration of an organisation's affairs, the election or appointment of an officer of an organisation or the making, amending or repealing of a rule of an organisation. An application about an invalidity may be made by an organisation, a member of the organisation or another person the Commission considers has a sufficient interest in whether an invalidity has occurred. In deciding the application, the Commission may declare whether or not an invalidity has occurred. If, on the hearing of the application, the Commission declares an invalidity, the Commission may make an order it considers appropriate to remedy the invalidity or to cause it to be remedied, change or prevent the effects of the invalidity or validate an act, matter or thing made invalid by or because of the invalidity.
Membership of Industrial Organisations
Eligibility for and admission to membership of industrial organisations are governed by Part 10 of Chapter 12.
The Commission decides questions or resolves disputes about membership of an industrial organisation (see ss. 722 and 723). Under s. 722, a person or organisation may ask the Commission to decide a question or dispute about: a person's eligibility for membership; when a person became a member; whether a membership subscription, fine or levy, or some other requirement of the rules is reasonable; and the qualifications for membership of a membership applicant.
From 1 January 2012, pursuant to s. 151 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 the industrial registrar must keep available for public access an up-to-date register of WHS entry permit holders as provided under a regulation.
To view the WH&S Register click below: