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Issue #1532      25 January 2012

ABCC’s “action” too little, too late

CFMEU National Construction assistant secretary Frank O’Grady said last week that the Australian Building and Construction Commission’s (ABCC) recent series of press releases boasting about the $297,000 it had recovered in unpaid wages and entitlements was a desperate attempt for the organisation to justify its existence and $135 million cost to taxpayers since its inception.

Mr O’Grady said CFMEU branches around the country had recovered almost $20 million in underpaid wages and entitlements for construction workers in 2011.

“The NSW branch was recently able to recover $800,000 of entitlements for 51 workers caught up in the collapse of the Cardinal Group of companies, just in time for Christmas. But we don’t put out a press release every time we help our members get what they’re legally owed, that’s just what unions do.

“The ABCC shouldn’t be boasting about this, they should be embarrassed it has taken them so long to start doing anything to secure workers’ rights and at how unsuccessful their efforts have been.”

The $297,000 recovered does not even cover the salary of ABCC head Leigh Johns.

The union says the ABCC has consistently ignored the reality that sham contracting is a major issue facing the construction industry and that a few token back payments for workers does not mean that it recognises the endemic nature of sham contracting in the construction industry.

“The CFMEU’s research has found that the illegal use of sham contracting is costing the Australian taxpayer over a billion dollars each year. There are thousands of workers in construction who are forced to sign on as sham contractors – missing out on superannuation and workers’ compensation coverage – just to get a job.”

Mr O’Grady said that it was time for the government to act on its election commitment and scrap the ABCC.

“This anti-worker organisation and its coercive powers have no place in a free society. The legislation introduced to the Federal Parliament last year to scrap the ABCC needs to be voted on as soon as possible.”  

Next article – Retail cleaners walk the East Coast of Australia in one year

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