The Guardian 16 February, 2005
Union pursues justice
for Walter workers
Following further indications of the hopelessly insolvent state of Walter Constructions at the creditors' meeting in Sydney on February 8, the CFMEU's Construction Division confirmed that the union will be pursuing direct negotiations with project clients to secure its members' unpaid wages and entitlements.
Walter Construction followed its parent company in Germany, Walter Bau AG, into administration the week before last. It is owed $38 million by the parent company and $100 million in debt.
Last week, 303 construction workers and office staff were officially told they no longer have jobs. The remaining 200 staff along with 600 sub-contract workers will be told their fate in the coming weeks.
"The CFMEU will be pursuing these negotiations on a site-by-site basis in Queensland and NSW where Walter had about 20 projects in hand", said the union's National Secretary, John Sutton.
"This is the best way to get a just solution for our members. In fact, the Administrators have indicated as much at the meeting: they have no objection to the union taking that course of action."
Mr Sutton gave notice that the CFMEU is committed to doing all it can to ensure Walter workers and the small family businesses which have worked on their projects are paid for their work.
He said the union will be holding those project clients to their commitments — legal and moral.
"And if the Howard Government were genuinely concerned about Australian workers and small family businesses, they would stop union bashing and look at seriously addressing what's causing workers and their families, and small businesses in this industry, to be knocked around by contractors going bust like Walter."