ETU fights proposed security bill

A proposed security infrastructure bill will intrude on the privacy of 1.5 million Australian workers, including workers in the power industry.

The proposed Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill 2020 would allow employers to snoop on the internet browsing history and emails of workers to fulfil security checks for the Australian Government.

The ETU and other unions are highly concerned about the overreaching power this gives employers to abuse this information and target workers for their own reasons, such as political associations or membership of a particular group.

The bill in its current form would potentially affect all workers in the industry.

The ETU made a submission to the parliamentary inquiry and was invited to appear before the inquiry in July. We spoke for almost an hour about the risks of this legislation affecting the privacy of our members and their freedom of speech. We have argued that there is no demonstrated security need for this intensified overreach of power for employers.

Major power company in Queensland, Powerlink, have already said that they would search their employees’ internet history for “indications of poor reliability or trustworthiness, such as flagrant dishonesty” and if the person’s internet activity reveals signs they may “easily succumb to groupthink or other conformity pressures.”

“This really is a situation of employers seeking to use counter-terrorism legislation to prosecute their human resources agenda,” said ETU National Policy Officer Trevor Gauld.

We will continue to advocate on behalf of our members and the Australian community and do everything we can to make sure this bill does not go ahead in its present form.

Watch the Electrical Trades Union speak at the public hearing below:

This article was publised on 28 July 2021.