Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, has warned that the head of the trade union movement, Sally McManus, will “be a board member, figuratively” of every single company should he lose the election.

If he’s spooked by a figurative trade unionist, how might he feel about thousands of employee-elected and union-nominated directors serving on every company board?

The Australian Council of Trade Unions passed a motion at its national congress last year urging a future Labor government to “implement a policy of installing employees on company and government managed boards”.

Labor’s own platform says it will examine measures “including worker representation on boards, giving consideration to global models currently in operation and any practical pathways that could lead to their adoption”.

Worker representatives on company boards is also on the agenda in other parts of the English-speaking world.

In the US, Democratic presidential aspirant Elizabeth Warren is pushing the idea for companies with a turnover of more than US$1 billion. In Britain, Conservative leader Theresa May raised the idea during her 2016 campaign to be prime minister and the Labour Party has promised to make all organisations employing more than 250 people give a third of board positions to worker representatives (along with other employee ownership measures).