Statement from National Secretary Dave Noonan
27 January 2014
Statement from National Secretary Dave Noonan
The CFMEU acts in the interests of workers in the construction industry at all times.
Our officials work hard to recover millions of dollars in pay and entitlements for workers every year.
The vast majority of our officials are hardworking people who are dedicated to improving the lives of construction workers.
If the leadership of the CFMEU is made aware of improper, illegal, corrupt or criminal activity by any official of the union, we act immediately. The union has terminated the employment of officials who have engaged in such activity in the past. We would not hesitate to do so in the future, if warranted.
There are many challenges in our industry, chief among them being health and safety, non payment of wages, phoenix companies and the insecure nature of employment in Labour Hire.
It is on the public record that the CFMEU has battled these challenges industrially and politically in the interests of our members.
We are deeply concerned about any criminal activity in the industry where hundreds of thousands of people work and it is also on the public record that we have called on anyone with information about such activity to go to the police and for the police to investigate.
The CFMEU is not the corporate regulator to approve which individuals and which companies can and cannot operate in the industry nor are we the body that can investigate criminal matters. These are issues for ASIC and the police force and we have consistently called on them to do their job.
The CFMEU has adopted new governance rules for our officials which have been ratified recently.
The governance rules clearly set out the responsibilities of officers of the union in disclosing any material interest or remuneration that they receive in relation to their position.
Any officer who is in a position of decision making relating to the union’s finances must undergo training in the next six months.
These rules apply to all branches of the union both nationally and in every state.
Some branches already have a Code of Conduct in place and we are currently coordinating a Code of Conduct across the national union in every branch.
Any breaches of these rules are treated very seriously and dealt with pursuant to the rules of the union.
Statement from NSW Secretary Brian Parker
The CFMEU represents the interests of workers in the construction industry and we strive to attain the best wages and conditions for them.
We play a major role in recovering underpayments and non-payment of wages and entitlements for workers whose employers rip them off - a problem that is rife in our industry. This includes companies in Labour Hire where most workers are employed on a casual basis.
The CFMEU has long campaigned against the proliferation of Labour Hire as a vehicle of employment as it renders workers to a life of casual and precarious employment. Unfortunately, Labour Hire has become a growing feature of the construction industry and our job is to negotiate the best conditions we can for these workers through enterprise agreements.
The CFMEU recently recovered approximately $250,000 in entitlements owed to the employees of Active Labour Pty Ltd, a claim that is in the process of being finalised.
The CFMEU expends considerable resources in assisting workers who have lost wages and entitlements due to companies going broke. The CFMEU has a long history of campaigning politically about this issue in order to address the problems caused by unethical companies on workers and their families.
It is ASIC that continues to register companies that have a history of phoenixing. The CFMEU is not the corporate regulator, it cannot vet the people that companies choose to engage, or who are allowed to operate companies in the building and construction industry. The union is not in a position to check the property, or other interests or connections of employers and managers of companies. The union might have a view about a contractor and their history of compliance, but ultimately, whether a subcontractor wins work is up to the builders who contract with them.
As Secretary of the CFMEU I have a professional relationship with George Alex from Active Labour, as I have with many other employers who operate in the construction industry in New South Wales. I do not have a social relationship with George Alex and have not played any role in promoting Active Labour Hire on the Barangaroo project.
The union has always played a role in assisting the families of workers who are victims of industrial fatalities. We have ensured that the entitlements of the worker recently deceased at Barangaroo, as well as co-workers, are met and we are currently assisting the deceased man’s family.
The union has in excess of 50 employees. While we cannot monitor what they do in their private lives, if we become aware that an official has acted corruptly, or criminally, the matter would be treated seriously and in accordance with the law.
Statement from Victorian Secretary John Setka
Our union has a strong and proud history of standing up for building workers.
The fight for the best wages and conditions for members should be what drives every single union official.
There is no place for officials who engage in criminal or corrupt behaviour in this union or any other.
Every branch adopted strict national rules on conflicts of interest and declaring outside income last year. All officials are aware of those rules.
Hospitality has been a grey area like it is in many organisations. Since I was elected Secretary a year ago I have worked to get clear guidelines for all officials and new national rules are in the process of
The union takes allegations of misconduct extremely seriously. Last week I received specific information about an organiser, and after an immediate investigation he is no longer employed by the union.
The Age has also made a number of allegations about labour hire companies.
Labour hire companies are the employers. The union doesn’t choose who forms these companies or who those bosses get to represent them. The union doesn’t get a say on who the Master Builders Association lets in as members.
The job of the union is to strike the best possible agreement with any employer, and in our industry that includes labour hire companies.
If these companies are going to employ building workers, we want them covered by a proper agreement. If they fail to honour the EBA then we take them on industrially.
We have been campaigning against phoenix companies and complaining about the failure of authorities to protect workers’ entitlements for years.
Alleged criminal behaviour, whether by employers or union officials, should be dealt with by police.
It is their job to investigate crime and uphold the law.
The Age has made serious allegations that are deeply concerning.
The union will investigate any specific allegation against Victorian officials and calls on The
Age to report any alleged criminal activity directly to Victoria Police.
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