Union holding industry at gun point

With a newly formed union ‘reluctantly’ pushing for the removal of commission-only employment, one employer’s federation has lashed out claiming it’s just a money grab.

Last week, Real Estate Business revealed the Australian Property Services Association (APSA) will petition the Fair Work Ombudsman into forcing employers to register commission-only employment arrangements with an external party.

If APSA is unsuccessful in swaying WA and Victoria into agreeing to the register, they plan to push for the removal of commission-based employment.

However, Hayden Groves, president of the Real Estate Employers Federation of WA said APSA doesn’t want to protect employees, it's only interested in lining its own pockets.

“This nonsense that Mr Gannon goes on about, that it’s protecting employee’s interests, is nothing but hot air. It’s about being able to prop up a union that otherwise has no means of having any meaningful revenue stream,” he said.

Before APSA formed, the Property Sales Association of Queensland was responsible for running the registry that they now propose goes national. According to financial reports from 2011, the registry accounted for 86 per cent of the union’s income.

“They're desperate to have this permanent registration of employment contracts inserted and applied nationally because if they don’t, they're as good as gone by the end of the year,” Mr Groves said.

“If I have to give 80 per cent of that fee to a union in the eastern states that has no relevance to me at all, just so they can get paid every year, why would I support that?”

But will the register protect employees even more? Probably not, according to Mr Groves.

“The unions are going on the basis there’s all these handshake agreements in this industry. The fact is the Fair Work Act demands all employees and employers have a written agreement of employment. It’s the law, and if you break that law it’s up to a $55,000 fine per agreement that you don’t have," he said.

“The real estate industry is the only one out of the 120 odd ones covered by this act that requires, in three states, for the registration of that employment contract.

“They're using threatening behaviour to force us to agree to their terms, and if we don’t they’ll look to remove commission-only employment, increasing minimum award rates, increasing penalty rates for weekend work – honestly, this is an award that was created less than five years ago between unions and employer groups, and the unions were absolutely in praise of this arrangement.”

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