Allegation of breach of Union rules dismissed

The Commission has dismissed an application which contended that The Australian Nursing Federation, Industrial Union of Workers Perth (ANFIUWP) breached its Union rules by failing to comply with its Objects.

The applicant said that she was a member of the ANFIUWP and that it did not:

  • promote and protect her interests as a member regarding the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) with her employer, St John of God in 2018;
  • represent her industrial interests with her employer; and
  • improve her conditions of employment after numerous complaints to it about work issues, in accordance with the EBA.

The applicant sought a declaration that the ANFIUWP breached r 3 – Objects of its Rules and that the Chief Commissioner investigate why the alleged breaches had been allowed to continue and that her complaints were not dealt with by the union.

The ANFIUWP said that it is a State organisation registered under the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA) (IR Act), and that it is jurisdictionally barred from representing the applicant as she and her employer are a national system employee and employer. The ANFIUWP also denied breaching r 3 – Objects of its Rules because the rule is aspirational and not able to be breached.

Chief Commissioner Scott reinforced the separate and distinct identities between State registered organisations and federal organisations with state branches. Scott CC found that applications made under the IR Act, like in the present case, can only be made against a State registered organisation and not the state branch of a federal organisation.

On the limited material before her, Scott CC found that as the applicant was employed by a national system employer and the industrial instrument that covered her employer was an enterprise agreement made pursuant to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), her industrial interests would be covered by the Australian Nurses and Midwifery Federation, a federal organisation registered under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (Cth), rather than the State registered organisation to which her claim related.

The application was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

The decision can be read here.