New ACTU secretary has ‘no problem’ with breaking ‘unjust’ laws

by HCA16 Mar 2017
Sally McManus, the first female secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, has been blasted by the Turnbull government following her controversial comments on her first day on the job.

McManus was asked by the ABC if the ACTU would distance itself from the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union for more than 100 court cases in which it was accused of breaking the law or contempt of court.

“There is no way we’ll be doing that,” McManus said.

“It might be illegal industrial action according to our current laws and our current laws are wrong.

“It shouldn’t be so hard for workers in our country to take industrial action when they need to.”

When asked if she believed in the rule of law, the union leader replied: “I believe in the rule of law when the law is fair and the law is right, but when it’s unjust I don’t think there’s a problem with breaking it.”

The comments drew criticism from the Coalition and even the Labor leader Bill Shorten.

When he was asked about the comments, Shorten said: “I just don’t agree.”

“If you don’t like a law, if you think a law is unjust, use the democratic process to get it changed.

“We believe in changing bad laws, not breaking them.”

In a statement, the Coalition’s Minister for Employment, Michaelia Cash, said this is an “extraordinary admission” by a newly minted union leader.

“All reasonable Australians fundamentally understand that a key pillar of our peaceful, democratic society is adherence to the rule of law,” she said.

“Ms McManus has tonight belled the cat on the principles of militant unions in Australia: they will obey the law if and when they choose.

“Corrupt unions such as the CFMEU have an atrocious record of lawlessness and militancy that has tonight been justified and excused by Ms McManus.”

McManus also told Fairfax Media her highest priorities include growing union membership, winning stronger rights at work and taking on corporate greed.

"That's about making sure that working people have stronger rights but also that we can tip the balance back in favour of ordinary Australians because ... so much wealth has gone to the top 1 per cent," she said.

"Part of that is about corporations paying their fair share of tax."

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  • by OMG 16/03/2017 12:49:03 PM

    Hopefully if this person has children she softens this approach of if you don't like the law, break it or they are going to be leading a hard life because of her attitude. There are a few people who feel the laws, of any kind, don't apply to them.

    Someone needs to get serious about Unions who follow this line of thinking. it is the fault of the unions that Australia has priced itself out of the market and manufacturing is now done out of this country. Companies are forced to go overseas where labour costs don't cripple them. When will they learn if the boss isn't making a profit he won't be there and you won't have a job. Mind you having worked for a Union for many years I have seen first hand where the membership money goes and it isn't as one might expect all on members.

  • by On the other hand 20/03/2017 10:08:30 PM

    You appear to be deliberately misrepresenting what Ms McManus said in an effort to make her position sound as extreme as you can. I presume you are equally vehemently opposed to the law breaking of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, Mahatma Gandhi and the suffragettes, to name a just a few. All opposed, and broke, specific laws that they considered were unjust and immoral.

    The main reason that manufacturing jobs have been decimated, here and in many other parts of the world, has been the rise of technology and the wholesale de-intensification of labour that accompanies it, not the cost of labour. In fact, there is very strong evidence that increasing the incomes of average citizens, rather than throwing money at corporations and the very wealthy and effectively exempting many of them from paying any tax, produces stronger, more vibrant economies. That is why the $15 movement in the US has led to economic improvements, not the decimation of the economy that was hysterically proclaimed by its opponents. Less wealth inequality, and the stronger trade unions that are almost always associated with it, are economic benefits, not impediments.

    Finally, I presume you are also passionately opposed to the endemic law-breaking of business in Australia exemplified by, but by no means limited to, the wholesale exploitation, intimidation and under-payment of workers in the 7-Eleven and Caltex chains. Or the fact that one third of Australian workers are not currently receiving the superannuation payments from their employers to which they are legally entitled?

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