February 2014 Industry Update

Message from the Director

 

This is our first Industry Update for 2014. I hope that all of you have had a good start to the year.

I am pleased to report that in January and February, Fair Work Building & Construction has made good progress in:

  • conducting effective site visits; and
  • continuing to establish the rule of law in the building and construction industry.

Regrettably, the latter point has meant that we have had to resort to launching three matters with the Federal Court of Australia. These matters include:

  • allegations of coercion, with threats of targeting, by the CFMEU on the Central Apartments site in Darwin;
  • allegations of coercion, by discouraging workers’ access to site, by the CFMEU on the new Children’s Hospital site in Perth; and
  • alleged unprotected industrial action by a group of 76 workers on the new Children’s Hospital site in Perth.

This agency is here to provide assistance and advice about rights and responsibilities and will only take matters to court where evidence exists and it is in the public interest to do so.

Many of you would have seen my appearance on the 7.30 Report. I was able to provide my personal insights into criminality in the industry. While FWBC does not have jurisdiction over criminal matters, the culture of lawlessness in the building and construction industry does contribute to problems in our jurisdiction. I am pleased that a Royal Commission has been announced which will expose and address these problems.

In February, the Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon Eric Abetz visited FWBC’s Melbourne office to meet with staff. He reiterated the Coalition Government’s commitment to re-establishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and to develop a strengthened national building code.

The Minister has since spoken to the Master Builders Association of Victoria, outlining that the new code will:

  • reflect the previous code and guidelines implemented by the Howard Government;
  • be modelled on the Victorian Building Code; and
  • cover the next bargaining round for EBAs that include Victorian building industry.

On 18 February 2014, people rallied in Melbourne’s CBD to protest against the Victorian Government’s picketing or ‘move on’ laws. A team of 14 inspectors visited 39 Melbourne building sites on the day and spoke to industry participants about their obligations in relation to the rally. Strike pay was raised as an issue concerning many people on these sites. This Industry Update includes an article on strike pay, which you can access here.

The opening months of 2014 have been a strong start, with inspectors getting out to sites and re-establishing our presence and with important matters being put before the courts. I am hopeful that, as industry picks up pace in 2014, we will be responsive and effective in promoting the rule of law in the building and construction industry.

Nigel

For further information, or to seek confidential advice please contact us on the following:

FWBC website: www.fwbc.gov.au 
FWBC Hotline: 1800 003 338

We value your feedback on our Industry Update. Provide feedback or tell us what you would like in your update at: publicaffairs [at] fwbc.gov.au or contact Damien O’Meara on 03 8509 3041.

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