Saturday, June 27, 2009

First class hypocrits

On Thursday 25/06/09, the Coalition, assisted by Family First Senator Steve Fielding and Independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon, voted to disallow a ministerial direction from Julia Gillard which would give construction workers some basic protections against the coercive powers of the ABCC, using its numbers in the Senate to block the move.

CFMEU Construction National Secretary Dave Noonan accused opposition leader MalcolmTurnbull of double standards, pointing out his decision last night to exercise his own right to silence over the fake email affair.

But the double standards don’t stop there. On the News last night on TV Liberal Senator Eric Abetz who reveled in leading the false exposure of the fake email affair, carried on about non co-operation with any inquiry into the affair, saying he would not disclose his source of information and no one will force him to.

On the ABC’s AM program on Wednesday, former Industrial Relations Minister and chief head kicker Tony Abbott, was crying about “the ferocious display of the coercive power of Government” and the government “using all the agencies of the state as a form of political coercion and intimidation”.

Well fellows, welcome to the nightmare of your own rotten creation. Building and construction workers have been facing these draconian powers since John Howard introduced the ABCC in order to coerce and intimidate them.

Under the ABCC’s coercive powers, Australian construction workers have no right to silence and are forced to give evidence about union meetings or any other issue the ABCC wishes to address.

Apparently, politicians and senior bureaucrats can hide behind their right to silence – even in the face of serious allegations – and yet construction workers can be fined or jailed for trying to exercise the same right.

Malcolm Turnbull and his mates are happy to exercise their right to silence but deny thousands of Australian construction workers even minimal protections.

This is a shameful act of hypocrisy from Turnbull and his mates - but who is surprised at that?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Employers shed crocodile tears

Commenting on the release of new legislation today, ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said rather than pretending to be disappointed, business groups should be honest and admit that they stand to gain from the proposed laws that threaten innocent workers with six months jail.

"The Australian Building and Construction Commission was introduced by the Howard Government to favour the property industry and to undermine the rights of construction workers," Mr Lawrence said.

"The new Building Industry Inspectorate and accompanying legislation will retain much of the coercive powers and unfair treatment that existed alongside the Howard Government's WorkChoices.

"Under the proposed new laws introduced into Parliament today, workers who are not accused of any wrongdoing still face a jail sentence of up to six months if they fail to attend an interview or answer the questions of the inspectorate.

"This could prevent workers on building sites from speaking out when when a situation is unsafe or unfair, and could lead to lower safety standards in an already-dangerous industry.

Business groups should also cease misleading the public with wildly exaggerated claims about the nature of the construction industry, Mr Lawrence said.

He said there are more than 900,000 people employed in Australia's construction industry.

"These workers are driving Australia's economic recovery and are the key to implementing the Government's stimulus package: they deserve more respect.

"It is highly misleading to say special laws are needed for the construction industry to deal with alleged violence and intimidation when these issues are criminal matters, unrelated to industrial law and outside the remit of the ABCC or the proposed new inspectorate," said Mr Lawrence.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Unions vow to fight unfair laws

Commenting on the announcement by the Federal Government that it would introduce new industrial relations legislation for the construction industry into Parliament tomorrow, ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said:

"Unions are determined to improve workers' rights and to ensure workers in the construction industry have the same rights as all other Australian workers.

"It will be good to see the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) abolished, as the Government has said it will do.

"The removal of unfair, higher penalties for construction workers is also a step forward.

"However it is unacceptable for the Labor Government to retain discriminatory laws including the use of over-the-top coercive powers against one group of workers.

"Unions are fundamentally opposed to the continued use of coercive powers against workers - even for a five year period and with the new safeguards that are proposed.

"The only people that will win from the retention of unfair laws in this industry will be the big building developers and construction companies.

"Our short term fear is that workers will continue to be subject to laws that are just unfair and unreasonable.

"Our long term fear is that these laws will stop workers on building sites from speaking out when a situation is unsafe or unfair.

"According to official figures from the Australian Safety and Compensation Council, prior to the introduction of the Howard Government's discriminatory laws for the construction industry in 2004, there were 19 deaths on building sites but in 2007 this had risen to 33 deaths.

"Special laws have failed to deal with the terrible record of health and safety in this often dangerous industry and have failed to improve productivity.

"The recent report by Justice Wilcox into the industry found the discriminatory laws had no positive impact on productivity and debunked the ABCC's claims that they had.

"The Australian people voted at the last election to restore workers' rights and to get rid of the Howard Government's unfair IR laws.

"Unions will continue campaigning to ensure this happens," said Mr Lawrence.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Letter in reply to yesterday's Advertiser front page is ignored

A letter sent to the Advertiser in response to it's disgraceful attack on building workers yesterday, has been forwarded to instead. You can read the Advertiser hatchet job here.

Dear Ed,

I thought your lead story “Thug rule” (The Advertiser 15/6/09) would deal with the “standover tactics”, “bullying” and “intimidation” that force building workers to take short cuts to ensure that projects are completed within or ahead of deadlines.

Instead, it rehashes tired innuendo and “cases under investigation” to attack building unions and justify their continuing unfair and discriminatory treatment. There has been one case brought against a union official under the draconian ABCC regime. That case was dropped.

The second charge is against Ark Tribe, a rank and file member who organized a petition about safety issues at the Flinders University site. Subsequently, Safework SA issued the builder with two improvement notices.

Now Ark faces 6 months jail for refusing to attend an ABCC interrogation about the matter, an interrogation at which he has no right to silence and no right to legal representation.

Remind me again – who are the “thugs” and “bullies”?

A concerned citizen.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's all about production stupid!

While Ark Tribe could go to goal for 6 months for defending the rights of construction workers to remain silent, the MBA, voice of the construction bosses, has responded as to why it is necessary to retain draconian laws for construction workers.

Master Builders Australia chief executive Wilhelm Harnisch is supporting retention of coercive powers over the construction sector, saying it was about productivity. "It's about providing the best bang for the taxpayers' buck," he said. (11/06/09 AAP)

If the concern was for taxpayers bucks one would think abolishing the ABCC would be a good start to saving $33 million per annum. The only tax payer the MBA is concerned with is the taxpayer bosses in the Building and Construction Industry (if any could be found paying their fair share).

Griffith University Professor David Peetz in a supplementary submission to the Wilcox inquiry states, “While there is scant evidence of a large impact on productivity, of the order claimed by the ABCC, Econtech and the employer bodies, there is more persuasive evidence for suggesting that the ABCC might have been associated with the transfer of income shares from labour to capital.”

Put pure and simple, more profits for the bosses-less rights and wages for workers.

How crude the bosses have become using a state sponsored industrial police force to improve their profit margins and how exposed some current Federal Labor Politicians are becoming by justifying legal bullying and intimidation as, “keeping a tough cop on the beat”. All this without a care that a worker could be goaled for 6 months for the very basic right enjoyed in any civilized society to remain silent.

John Howard introduced the most draconian industrial relations laws seen in Australia, in the past week Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard have declared themselves caretakers for these draconian laws.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

First cut footage on Adelaide Now..

Click here to see video from this morning's rally,

Ark's Tribe rallies at Elizabeth

Hundreds of workers rallied outside the Elizabeth Magistrates Court this morning. Construction workers taking their RDOs (rostered days off) were joined by members of the Transport Workers Union, the LHMU, both education unions (public education's Australian Education Union and private education's Independent Education Union), the Nurses' Federation, and the Australian Metal Workers Union.

Construction union (CFMEU) State Secretary Martin O'Malley addressed the gathering, warning that the powers of the ABCC were a danger to all working people.

The ABCC has the right to interrogate anyone about the conduct of union meetings, or any other matter related to the construction industry. People who refuse to attend interviews with the ABCC (as Ark is alleged to have done), or who refuse to answer questions, or who tell any other person about their interrogation (spouse, children, workmates, union officials etc) face 6 months in jail and fines of up to $22,000.

"There's one set of laws for workers in the construction industry, and one set for everyone else," observed O'Malley.

"They say they've drawn a circle around our industry, but the circle can be widened at any time to include other groups of workers. This is what happened in Nazi Germany in the 1930s," he said.

He then introduced Tribe, describing him as "just a construction worker who wants to go to work each day and do his job."

State Secretary of SA Unions, Janet Giles congratulated Ark on the stand he was taking, adding "and I promise you we will be with you all the way."

As Ark stood waiting to go into court, O'Malley invited those present to sign a Eureka flag with messages of support for Ark, and then the whole assembly recited the Eureka Oath, first sworn at Ballarat in 1854 by miners who took up arms against the British colonial oppressors: "We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other to defend our rights and liberties!"

Those present them formed an arch of honour with Eureka flags and union flags fluttering above Ark as he walked to applause into the courtroom.

The case has been adjourned until August 11, 2009. Click here to see the video on Adelaide Now.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Don't let Ark go to jail. Rally at Elizabeth Tuesday!!

Ark Tribe faces six months jail if convicted for not attending an interview with the ABCC (aka The Building Industry Task Force).

Come to the Elizabeth Magistrates Court, 15 Frobisher Rd, Elizabeth, this Tuesday 9 June at 9am to rally in defence of not only Ark, but all working people!

View Larger Map

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Story of the Ark

Don't let the ABCC jail Ark: Join us at Elizabeth Magistrates Court this Tuesday, June 9 at 9am to support Ark.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Unions call on Gillard to abolish ABCC at ACTU Congress

Ark Tribe, a South Australian construction worker, faces six months jail after being charged
with allegedly refusing to attend an interrogation by the Australian Building and Construction

Earlier in the week, the Australian union movement stands behind Ark and will urge the Rudd Labor
Government to abolish the ABCC when Julia Gillard, Deputy PM and Minister for Workplace
Relations, speaks at the ACTU Congress.

The ACTU Congress yesterday unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Government
to abolish the ABCC and the unjust laws that underpin it.

Click here to read more