Labor appoints more worker reps to industrial umpire

·2-min read
Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS

Eight union-linked figures have been appointed to roles on the Fair Work Commission as the Albanese Labor government seeks to "rebalance" the industrial umpire.

Workplace Minister Tony Burke on Friday announced Tony Slevin had been appointed as a deputy president of the commission starting on June 5.

It followed the appointment of former Transport Workers' Union chief legal adviser and commission vice president Adam Hatcher as president in February.

"The Albanese Labor government is taking the next step towards restoring balance to the Fair Work Commission," Mr Burke said.

"The Liberals and Nationals spent a decade stacking the commission with appointees from employer backgrounds in a bid to silence workers."

Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus welcomed the appointments, saying the commission is now closer to achieving gender balance and greater cultural diversity.

"The Fair Work Commission has a big impact on the lives of working people, so it is essential that it is just and balanced," she said.

Mr Burke said of the 27 permanent appointments the coalition made to the commission, 26 came from an employer background.

"They bring extensive experience advocating for workers and I am confident they will work with dedication and diligence in their new roles," Mr Burke said of the new officials.

The other new commissioner appointments and their union connections include: Scott Connolly (ACTU), Stephen Crawford (AWU), Mark Perica (CPSU), Pearl Lim (ASU), Susie Allison (UWU), Oanh Thi Tran (CFMEU) and Emma Thornton (ACTU).

Opposition workplace spokeswoman Michaelia Cash said it was a "cynical exercise in stacking the commission with union mates".

"The Fair Work Commission is supposed to be an independent umpire with significant powers to determine workplace laws in Australia, but the Albanese government wants to make the commission a closed shop where non-union members need not apply,'' she said.

Ms Cash said the next step for the government would be giving unions more power despite eight per cent of the private sector workforce being union members.