Building Industry Strike – Both Sides of the Tale
Melbourne workers rallied against the Baillieu Government’s tough new anti-union regulations for the building industry. These new regulations would require companies building major public projects to sign up to its rules, which include limiting the authority of unions on construction sites.
The new guidelines will require tenderers for public sector work in Victoria to commit to compliance with the law, productivity, safety and freedom of association according to the government. But unions on the other hand urged workers to take to the street to show their opposition for the new code. However now workers who participated in the strike may have their wages docked, as government officials have urged companies to do.
In this post we look at both sides of the code, so you can decide whether the new code is beneficial to workers or whether unions are correct in assuming that it will limit the rights of workers.
While government claims the new code will aid in creating more jobs and boost productivity on sites, they also stressed that employers under Commonwealth Law are required to dock the pay of workers who participated in what it calls an illegal strike action.
The man whose task it is to implement the new regulations, Nigel Hadgiss had this to say on SafetyCulture.com.au:
The man charged with enforcing the regulations, Nigel Hadgkiss, says the code is designed to increase productivity, creating construction jobs.
“It is a little disappointing the unions have taken this stance against what is a move by Government to improve safety and bring about a better culture, better behaviours, on Victoria’s building sites,” he said.
He says companies who want Government work will have to take action against illegal strikes, including today’s action.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of contractors who are taking a very strong approach to this they’ve warned their workers of the consequences if they do just walk off and take unlawful action,” he said.
“A lot of contractors are extremely serious about wanting Government work and they’re prepared to comply with these new guidelines to obtain that work.”
Victoria’s Finance Minister, Robert Clark, says union activity on building sites is costly and must be controlled.
“We believe that they should simply not be holding this industrial action because having productive and law abiding work places in Victoria, which is what these guidelines seek to achieve, is in the best interest of building workers because it ensures projects are affordable and building workers have got jobs they can go to.”
The Baillieu Governments new code would see employers abiding with certain agreed upon guidelines. Robert Clark, Finance Minister had this to say according to a post on Heraldsun.com.au:
“Employers who have committed to the guidelines who fail to abide by the guidelines … can expect to suffer consequences,” Mr Clark said.
“Those consequences could include being restricted from or excluded from future Victorian government work.”
Mr Clark said most building workers ignored the union call to walk off the job.
“Despite all of their talk they were barely able to fill a quarter of a city block,” Mr Clark said.
What the Unions Say:
Unions have called the new code provocation and unnecessary. According to Brian Boyd from the Trades Hall on SafetyCulture.com.au:
“We hope the public will understand why building unions are going through the streets,” he said.
“We’ve already negotiated our EBA’s, unlike some of the public sector unions, they’re already out of the way for the next few years, yet we’ve got a code that’s aimed at cutting wages and conditions.”
Mr Boyd says federal laws are already in place to tackle illegal strikes and union actions.
He says the protest was just the start of a campaign to over-turn the regulations, and the Premier Ted Baillieu, should get the message.
“We’ve already negotiated in the private sector with the building companies all our enterprise bargaining agreements so why he wants to now set up a code that’s going to interfere with all that and start to cut wages and conditions is beyond me,” he said.
The CFMEU urged workers in a flyer to take to the streets in a stand against Baillieu’s government’s new rules. Unions claim that the new code is simply aimed at cracking down on the rights of workers rather than improving safety and increasing jobs.
Heraldsun.com.au posted this on their site:
In a flyer, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) urged members to take to the streets to tell Premier Ted Baillieu to “shove” the new rules.
CFMEU state secretary of its construction division, Bill Oliver, said the new rules do nothing to improve safety or create a single job in the building industry.
“We’ve got a new construction code to crack down on the rights of workers,” he said.
“We don’t think that’s what the state needs.
“They (the government) have actually yet to pop one shovel in the dirt to build a single new project.”
The CFMEU was also organising a separate rally in Perth today, where workers would converge on parliament to protest about the use of foreign workers on large-scale resource projects.
“The logic is beyond me.”
Posted by Steven Asnicar