Defending the right of workers to express religious beliefs
In the wake of Israel Folau’s sacking by Rugby Australia, Darren Greenfield, State Secretary of the NSW Branch of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) said “I’ve got a personal view on it. We haven’t discussed it internally [in the union] but “I don’t think you should be sacked for putting your point of view across. That’s his point of view.”
Former senior ACTU official Tim Lyons said employers should not police the private views of workers. “I find what Folau said pretty repugnant, but there is an important principle here about employers regulating private conduct which I could easily see being used against union activists,” he said.
“I think the only circumstances under which it would be appropriate is if what was said gave rise to a genuine health, safety and wellbeing issue for other employees.”
Josh Bornstein, national head of employment law at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, said while he “thoroughly disagreed” with Folau’s views which “are repugnant to most people”, he had a right to them and to his religious affiliation.
“My concern is that employers are using employment contracts to extend the reach of their control over their employees well beyond the workplace in ways that undermine human rights, democratic rights, political debate and in Israel Folau’s case, undermine religious affiliation,” he said. (Source: SMH)