Friday, 30 June 2017
Union legal challenge to Turnbull Gov building code progresses to Federal Court hearing.
The Federal Court today confirmed that the first legal challenge to the Turnbull Government’s controversial building industry code would proceed to a hearing.
The case, launched by the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union, is eeking to overturn a decision by the Australian Building and Construction Commission to impose the building code on hundreds of SA Power Networks
workers that would see their employment rights slashed.
The union said the hearing, which will take place in Sydney on September 25, was likely to determine whether thousands of workers around the country who lay National Broadband Network cabling, build substations, erect high voltage transmission lines, construct residential electricity networks, and install communications cabling, will also be covered by the building code.
CEPU national secretary Allen Hicks said the spread of the building code to industries it was never intended for appeared to be an attempt by the Federal Government to push their radical industrial relations agenda by stealth.
“This move to impose the building code on workers in the power and telecommunications industries is nothing less than a sneaky attempt to radically undermine the job security, wages, and conditions of thousands of Australian
workers,” Mr Hicks said.
“ABCC boss Nigel Hadgkiss, with the full backing of Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, is attempting to expand his power over a range of industries that this legislation was never intended to cover.
“Not only have 2100 stable jobs at SA Power Networks been threatened by this move, but consumers are likely to be impacted as a specialist workforce that provides essential services is attacked and long-standing industrial harmony in the sector is undermined.”
The Federal Court hearing will examine the ABCC’s decision to impose the building code on the Construction and Maintenance Services division of SA Power Networks, and in particular whether employees who roll out telecommunications networks or expand the electricity grid to new homes are carrying out an essential service.
“The Liberal Party learnt from the community backlash to WorkChoices that the public do not support their radical industrial relations agenda, so what they are increasingly doing is relying on stealthy attacks that target small groups of workers or specific industries, such as this case,” Mr Hicks said.
“This Federal Court hearing has the potential to not only expose this process and bring the ABCC into check, but also to protect thousands of other workers from having their wages and conditions cut.”
Media comment: Allen Hicks — 0419 721 037
Further information: Tim Vollmer — 0404 273 313