• Australia: Competition Watchdog at Last Confronts Union Misbehavior
  • August 27, 2014 | Authors: Lawrence C. DiNardo; Michael J. Gray; Elaine Ho; Jean Kuo; Vincent Wei Li
  • Law Firms: Jones Day - Chicago Office ; Jones Day - Shanghai Office ; Jones Day - Taipei Office ; Jones Day - Shanghai Office
  • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ("ACCC") has recently confirmed that it is investigating two separate instances of trade union misconduct. These investigations are occurring against the background of recent criticism of the ACCC in its approach to these matters and a Royal Commission into Union Governance and Corruption.

    The first investigation relates to one union's conduct of a secondary boycott of one company for the reason that it supplied goods to another company, with which that union had a dispute. This conduct is in breach of the Australian Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth), which prohibits unions and their members from acting so as to prevent one party from supplying goods to another.

    The second investigation is into the lawfulness of an agreement between a transport company and the trade union for that industry. The agreement allegedly provided for payment from the transport company to the union. In return, the union would instigate safety complaints about the operations of competitors of the transport company. Both investigations are ongoing and illustrate the aggressive investigative posture that the Australian Federal Government and its agencies are taking toward union misconduct.