The Guardian 27 April, 2005

Hands off our prosperous industry!

Road construction projects have been held to ransom around Australia by a Federal Government desperate to force state governments to sign up to its anti-union National Building Code. Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has said he wants to use the Code to challenge above-award payments on civil projects, undermine collective agreements with AWAs and restrict union right of entry.

The pressure on the Victorian State Government over the Geelong Bypass mounted to nothing less than “an illegal stand over tactic”, said Martin Kingham, Victorian Secretary of the Construction Division of the CFMEU.

“The Howard Government has been revealed in its true colours as a bully and blackmailer, willing to use the standover tactics to try and coerce employers to walk out of legally binding contracts which they signed with their workers in good faith”, Martin said.

However, the CFMEU has vowed to continue to work with employers to secure strong collective agreements for its workers, despite the Code.

“Our collective efforts have resulted in one of the most productive and profitable construction industries in the world. We intend to keep it that way, despite the Howard Government’s wrecking tactics,” said Martin.

“Don’t forget — this is a Government that went around before the last election claiming it wanted to roll back Government inference in business. Now it’s not just interfering in the construction industry, its hell bent on wrecking it.”

CFMEU Victoria has now challenged the State Government to ensure that no worker ends up worse off as a result of the decision to bow to the Federal bully-boy tactics.

Several major road projects in Queensland and NSW are also being held to ransom by the Federal Government’s demand that the States sign up to its Code of Practice.

Hard Hat national newspaper of Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union.

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