Union demands served up on a silver platter
Despite our growing size Canberra remains a tight-knit community. Businesses dig deep to support those in need and people look out for each other. Were big enough to build excitement but small enough to expect to see a familiar face in every crowd.
Characterised by trust and goodwill, our open approach to others is almost always reciprocated. Inevitably this makes the consequences all the more harmful when our trust is misplaced.
For many years Canberra has basically trusted the CFMEU to provide informed commentary and oversite in the construction industry, particularly on the crucial issue of safety.
We have tolerated the overt grandstanding, bullying and thuggery and other excesses because, despite reprehensible methods, we believed they too ultimately sought the best for our community.
Weve been slow to realise that the union is fundamentally anti-Canberra.
In the past three months alone the CFMEU has:
- Commissioned unprecedented radio advertising with false community announcements designed to cripple Canberras mum and dad residential builders.
- Bragged of a deal deliberately designed to exclude local teams from the light rail project stopping locals stick(ing) their snouts in the trough (Canberra Times, 11 May, P1).
- Had their national leader attack Canberra construction teams in the national media, describing locals who refused union demands (the vast majority) as chook shed builders (The Australian, June 1).
The attack on local industry has continued unabated with union officials quoting contrived safety statistics to falsely single Canberra out as the most dangerous place for construction in Australia.
Weve also seen the union increasingly abusing its privileged position on safety to punish local teams who dare refuse union demands, invading construction sites to count toilets while ignoring serious safety issues on union friendly sites. Its all added to the growing realisation that the CFMEUs team of ex-footballers and lawyers have little safety expertise, with one of their senior bullies forced to admit to a Judge that he had no safety training.
Despite this open warfare on Canberras construction industry, the CFMEU continues to enjoy a formal role in deciding every construction tender in the Territory. The ACT government dismisses industry concerns about a MoU which involves the union in procurement decisions. In doing so the government ignores the unions direct commercial interest in the outcome of tenders and their open hostility to local construction teams. Little wonder locals dont get a look in on major Government contracts.
The CFMEU represents less than one in 10 in our industry today. Their wealth and power is perpetuated not by members but through a deep connection to the ACT Government built on funding and ideology. It is evidenced openly by the formal MoU and through darker relationships hinted at in the Royal Commission where the union even claimed control over government inspectors.
This union of thugs and bullies is not worthy of our trust. The ACT governments continued support of the CFMEU adds enormously to the cost of construction in our city while putting hard working local teams at risk.
The fact that the CFMEU can act so openly against the interests of our community while retaining the unequivocal support of our government, including a formal role in procurement, is worthy of thorough scrutiny.
Bring on the Independent Commission against Corruption.
Authorised by K Coningham on behalf of Master Builders Association ACT.