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Age Discrimination in Trade Union Membership Rules

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Friday 14 December, 2012

Discrimination in Trade Union Membership Rules

Rights Commissioner Report No.4 - November 1997

The complaint concerns age restriction in trade union membership rules. The complainant was a member of a union the rules of which required members to retire from full membership at the age of 65 unless exempted by the Federal Executive of the union. The complainant was denied an exemption from the Federal Executive and transferred to honorary membership, which restricted his opportunities to work as an engineer. Attempts to conciliate the complaint were unsuccessful.

The Human Rights Commissioner found that the union's actions, which had the effect of denying the complainant access to employment because of his age, constituted discrimination in employment based on age. He found it was not an inherent requirement of union membership or the particular job that the a person be under 65 years of age.

The Commissioner recommended that the relevant union rule be repealed and that the complainant be granted an apology and compensation for financial loss suffered as a result of the discrimination. He also recommended amendments to the the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth).

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