End of the ABCC a win for construction workers
But Government must ensure new Building Inspectorate respects workers’ rights
The CFMEU has welcomed the passage of legislation to scrap the Australian Building and Construction Commission after seven years of biased attacks on unions and workers that cost the taxpayer $135 million.
CFMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor said the ABCC was the last vestige of Work Choices, and its abolition was long overdue.
“This is a great step forward for construction workers, and for any Australian who cares about workers’ rights.”
Although supporting the abolition of the ABCC, the CFMEU remains concerned that the new investigative body retains the “coercive powers” which allow construction industry workers to be subject to secret interrogations. The powers will be retained for another three years.
“We are still concerned that some of the ABCC’s coercive powers will be transferred to the new Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate, which will be the new regulator for the construction industry.
“The new inspectorate must avoid the ideological anti-union bias of the ABCC and be an even-handed regulator which does not abuse its powers,” Mr O’Connor said.
The Senate passed the legislation this evening with Labor and Greens Senators voted in favour of workers’ rights and the Coalition voting in support of the ABCC. The total count was 35 in favour of the legislation to 29 against.
“After seven years this flawed and damaging organisation, and its war on construction workers, is over,” Mr O’Connor said.
“The ABCC was set up by the Howard Government as part of an ideological attack on unions and their members. It has been a waste of money, serving only to try and intimidate union members who stand up for decent wages and safety in construction.
“It has failed to tackle safety issues or illegal conduct by employers, including the widespread use of sham contracting which cost the taxpayer billions each year.
“Labor had a clear mandate to end the ABCC, having promised to do so at the 2007 and 2010 elections, and we welcome the final passage of this legislation.
“Last year’s admission by the ABCC that it had illegally interrogated 203 Australians shows it had routinely overstepped its already draconian powers.
“Earlier this year the ABCC was forced to call an investigation into the failed prosecution of Victorian CFMEU officials John Setka and Matt Hudson. ABCC investigators admitted to having lost or destroyed evidence including audio recordings, and changed their own statements to the court.”
Mr O’Connor said the CFMEU looked forward to continuing its constructive relationship with thousands of legitimate employers in the construction industry.
“The end of the ABCC will not change these relationships, and we look forward to working with employers to tackle the issues of safety, apprentices and creating a world-class building industry in Australia.”
- Download the attached flyer for a summary of the legislation, and counterarguments to the nay-sayers: Why the ABCC must never return
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