Message from Dave Noonan
Watchdog’s strength not watered down
CFMEU response to Jamie Briggs MP for Mayo
Jamie Briggs’s opinion piece (‘Building Unions need to be reined in’ AFR May 14) contained factual errors that are continuously repeated by those on the conservative side of politics and which seem to go unchallenged by those that publish them.
His assertion that the Australian Building and Construction Commission powers have been ‘watered down’ is untrue. The Fair Work Building Commission has all the powers that the ABCC had and it is also untrue that the abolition of the ABCC has contributed to more industrial disputes. The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ figures show that at December 2012, the number of working days lost to industrial disputes in the construction industry was at its lowest in four years and the days lost for the sector were similar to all other industries.
The Cole Royal Commission into the Building Industry was widely criticized for its partisan terms and the hearings were chraracterised by hearsay, gossip and rumours. The Commission gave the opportunity to dodgy employers to take the stand and vent against the CFMEU for doing things like demand safe work practices on their sites and to pay workers the correct rate of pay. These were employers who had gone broke, owing workers hundreds of thousands of dollars, only to emerge again under a different name to operate with impunity without having paid the money they already owed. Not one official or member of the CFMEU were charged or convicted as a result of the findings of the Commission.
The CFMEU has consistently maintained that there should be one law governing all Australian workers and the International Labour Organisation has on five occasions found that the ABCC has breached ILO conventions to which Australia is a signatory.
The protest in Melbourne last year that Mr Briggs refers to was over health and safety. As a union with members working in a high risk industry, we have the right, as everyone does, to protest over safety and to do whatever we can to ensure that workers go home to their families every night.
The right to organize for good conditions and safe workplaces is one of the cornerstones of a democratic society. The Liberal Party wants to do away with that right, defending their policy through misleading and incorrect assertions.
Construction Division CFMEU
Printed in the Australian Financial Review on 16 May 2013 with cartoon by Clement.
- Your Union
- Member Services