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Issue #1722      March 9, 2016

CPA Campaign for workers’ rights in support of the CFMEU!

On the early hours of Wednesday March 2 the CPA WA branch joined the campaign in support of the CFMEU by dropping a massive banner off the pedestrian bridge across the Kwinana Freeway in Perth.

The CFMEU has been under intense political attacks by the Coalition government with the Royal Commission into Trade Unions aimed at damaging the image of one of the most militant unions in Australia. Furthermore, around 300 individual members are facing charges of unlawful industrial action which carry penalties of up $10,200 per individual and costly legal fees.

The key objective of the draconian legislation is to penalise the right to organise and to diminish the influence of the CFMEU in the construction industry. It also brings additional obstacles trying to prevent the legitimate access to members and potential members by union officials in building sites.

Recruitment is a bit harder if builders feel protected by law in their union busting campaign. It also makes it more difficult to speak to workers and mobilise construction workers.

Since the legislation has been in place many more workers and officials are facing draconian charges of unlawful industrial action as the line between what is lawful or unlawful on a building site is very fine. The laws are in place to be broken and they breach essential ILO conventions on the right to collective bargaining and the right to organise.

As a result, conditions are slipping in the industry, affecting workers by diminished wages and conditions. Sham contracting is rampant and many workers go without annual leave, sick leave, penalty rates and full employment. The majority of construction workers are casual, working on flat rates of pay and when the boss is not making money due to inclement weather or a downturn in the industry the workers miss out.

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous occupations claiming 16 lives to date in 2016.

The industry is tough; workers’ safety is a key demand of the CFMEU, its members and officials.

The draconian legislation must be repealed or broken if we are to have safer workplaces and a rise in wages and conditions. Currently the right-wing government is in control of the industry. We must support militant trade unionism. As the CPA banner reads, “Workers need Strong Unions like the CFMEU”.

The CPA demands the abolition of legislation which criminalises workers, unions and the right to organise.

We say “No” to the reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, ABCC!

We demand the right to strike over safety on the job and better wages and conditions!

We call on our readers, CPA members and the community in general to stick together in solidarity with the trade unions in particular the CFMEU.

See “Strength in the union” for interview with NSW CFMEU president Rita Mallia.

Next article – International Women’s Day – Women’s struggle central to class struggle

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