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The Senate has voted to remove a clause granting the Exclusive Brethren religious order an exclusion from parts of the Fair Work Bill.

Senators voted 33 to 31 to remove the exemption, which the Greens Leader Bob Brown says allowed Exclusive Brethren businessmen the right to refuse unions entry to their workplaces.

Senator Brown says the move will apply to all workplaces run by members of the religious order, including schools.

“It means that there are 4,000 people in 33 workplaces in Australia who were denied the opportunity to have unions if they wanted to come and sort out problems in those workplaces, they now have the same rights as people all over Australia,” he said.

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