From http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22331218-5013404,00.html (thanks to Niel Walsh)
UNION leaders may advocate a vote for the Greens in the Senate after the minor party said it would have a "mandate" for more union-friendly industrial relations policies if it won the balance of power in the upper house.
Electrical Trades Union Victorian secretary Dean Mighell yesterday said he had held talks with other union officials, many of whom regarded Labor's policy as a "betrayal" and would increasingly consider supporting the Greens.
"I think there will be more union officials that will be advocating for workers to consider supporting the Greens in the Senate; yes, I do," Mr Mighell said.
"And I think, whether they are doing it overtly or privately ... you will find that people can't deny that the Greens haven't got an excellent industrial relations position, one that is traditional Labor."
Mr Mighell is already at war with Labor over his support for the Greens, but other unionists predicted increased interest in the minor party after Tuesday's announcement of Labor's industrial relations policy.
The fate of Labor's workplace laws could be determined by which minor party holds the Senate balance of power from July next year - the Greens or even Family First or the Democrats - with Labor unlikely to win control.
Deputy Opposition Leader Julia Gillard yesterday issued a warning to the Senate that if Labor were elected it would expect its mandate to be respected.
But Greens industrial relations spokeswoman Rachel Siewert said her party could be unable to give ground on aspects of the policy.
"If the Greens hold the balance of power, we, too, will hold a mandate," she said.
"And that will centre around the fact that people want us to be there holding a strong line on industrial relations.
"Obviously, you have the Coalition and then the ALP with 'Work Choices Lite' and the Democrats are slightly better than that, but we have the strongest IR policy and that has been recognised by some unions."
But Ms Gillard maintained the electorate would expect Labor to introduce its policy if it won government.
"If the Greens were elected to government, they would have a mandate to implement their policies, not if they win a couple of seats in the Senate," a spokeswoman for Ms Gillard said.
The Coalition will retain a majority in the Senate until July next year. Like Mr Mighell, Senator Siewert listed as her concerns the retention of Australian Workplace Agreements, changes to unfair dismissal laws, right of entry and the temporary retention of powerful building watchdog the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
The Greens, who have four senators, with two up for re-election, were also concerned about the extension of any secondary boycott provisions under the Trade Practices Act, with more legislation due from the Coalition in the next sessions.
Another possible balance-of-power player, Family First, yesterday dismissed the notion of a mandate and vowed to judge any proposed legislation on its merits.
Senator Steve Fielding said the balance of power was one of the crucial issues in this election.
He said he had voted against Work Choices after assessing its affect on families and small business, and he would adopt the same approach in relation to any Labor bill.
Any bill should be looked at as a whole once drafted and not picked off in a piecemeal fashion, he said.