A national union leader has slammed the high-profile resignation of Fair Work Commission vice-president Graeme Watson, warning that his departing criticisms of the industrial umpire risk undermining the integrity of the nation’s workplace tribunal.
Mr Watson, who is stepping down from his role at the FWC on February 28, sent a fiery letter to Employment Minister Michaelia Cash last week warning that the independent umpire had become politically compromised and dysfunctional.
But the national secretary of the Rail Tram and Bus Union, Bob Nanva, told The Australian it was unreasonable for public officials with responsibility for major decisions about company cost structures to resign and then work as consultants to those same companies.
Mr Nanva is proposing new limits on the employment activities of commissioners who step down from the industrial umpire. He says these new rules should be based roughly on the post-politics employment restrictions that apply to former cabinet ministers.
The rules for former cabinet ministers prevent them, for 18 months, from having business dealings with any public officials on matters for which they had responsibility during their final 18 months in office.
Watson's Epic Dummy Spit
“Commissioner Watson has publicly thrown his toys out of the cot by criticising the operation of the Fair Work Commission and questioning its role in the workplace relations system,” Mr Nanva said.
“The irony is that it’s Commissioner Watson’s own actions, by declaring himself a private consultant who’s open for business, that’s now undermining the independence and integrity of the commission.”
Mr Nanva has written to Senator Cash and the head of the Fair Work Commission, Iain Ross, proposing the tighter rules.