E-Alert - Melbourne rally on 18 February 2014

Workers are reminded they must get permission from their employer before leaving work to attend rallies, or they risk breaking workplace laws and could be brought before the courts.

FWBC is also warning employers and unions they could face penalties if they are involved in paying or demanding strike pay.

The Victorian Trades Hall Council is coordinating a rally in Melbourne on Tuesday 18 February. Fair Work Building & Construction Director, Nigel Hadgkiss, said workers have the right to peacefully express their views, but must adhere to workplace laws.

“If workers want to take part in the rally outside of their break times, they need to seek their employer’s permission. Workers who participate in the rally during work hours without permission cannot be paid, or ask to be paid, for their time at the rally. Further, their conduct may constitute unprotected industrial action, which is prohibited by the Fair Work Act 2009,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

“FWBC will not hesitate to investigate possible breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009 and bring people before the court where necessary.”

Mr Hadgkiss said it was important that employees and employers understood the rules about industrial action, because penalties apply to those who do the wrong thing.

“I encourage employers and employees to get in contact with FWBC if they need information about their workplace rights and obligations,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

“FWBC is available to provide information and advice on workplace rights and obligations to workers, employers and their representatives. You can remain anonymous when you make an enquiry.

“These rights and obligations are designed to ensure the ongoing productivity of the building and construction industry. All  Australians, including industry participants, gain from a productive industry.

Building and construction industry workers who attend the rally during their work hours without their employer’s permission could face penalties of up to $10,200 if they are found to have breached the Fair Work Act. Employers or unions could face penalties of $51,000 for involvement in paying or demanding strike pay.

Members of the building and construction industry seeking advice on their workplace rights and obligations should call the FWBC Hotline on 1800 003 338 or visit www.fwbc.gov.au

Urgent message for employers and workers ahead of Melbourne rally(PDF 53.65KB)