Dan Nancarro, ETU Australia, 8 March 2017
The ETU warns the construction industry is on the verge of shutdown as the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC)’s failure to process enterprise bargaining agreements for compliance to the new Building Code throws the industry into chaos.
Electrical Trades Union Queensland and NT Acting State Secretary Peter Ong said the commission had created a nightmare scenario of uncertainty throughout the industry, which had frozen worker wages and put projects into jeopardy, as employers and Unions were left waiting months on end for rulings on the compliance of clauses in agreements.
As part of the changes passed by the Turnbull Government last year, any contractors who have agreements which are found to have clauses ruled not compliant to the Building Code are not able to tender on government work.
“We can’t do anything until we know parts of the agreement are not code compliant,” Mr Ong said.
“We’ve now got an industry in turmoil, no one knows which way to move, and we’ve got a Government which refuses to provide any information to anyone on where these agreements are at.
“This Government has created a monster in the ABCC that they don’t know how to control or fix, and it has sent the entire industry into paralysis.
“If this continues projects will stall across the country and the industry could go into shutdown.”
Mr Ong said the ABCC’s inaction was also hitting workers in the hip pocket, as employees wait for a wage increase at least 18 months in the making.
“The government has basically imposed a wage freeze on all workers in the construction industry by refusing to process these agreements for compliance,” he said.
“Employers who want to pay their workers a pay increase can’t because the government may turn around at any time and say that is illegal under the code.
“This is a farcical situation created by the Turnbull Government which is directly hurting workers and their families.”
Mr Ong called on the Federal Government to ensure the ABCC immediately processes the agreements before further damage is caused to the industry.