||Issue No. 171||21 March 2003|
Shock and Awe
Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Interview: League of Nations
Industrial: 20/20 Hindsight
Organising: On The Buses
Unions: National Focus
History: The Banner Room
International: The Slaughter Continues
Legal: A Legal Case For War?
Culture: Singing For The People
Review: The Hours
Poetry: I Wanna Bomb Saddam
Satire: Diuretic Makes Warne's Excuses Look Thin
The Locker Room
Viva Le Imperialists!
The First Casualty
Calling All Libs
If George W Bush was an Australian Citizen...
Monk Ignores Job Losses
Abbott, however, neglected to mention that fact when he cited productivity comparisons as another reason for “reforming” the industry, just days before the public release of findings from his $60 million Royal Commission.
The Workplace Relations Minister used a specially-commissioned report, prepared by Econotech and accountants Ernst and Young, to continue his running battle with building workers.
Econotech found productivity and labour costs were higher in commercial construction than domestic home building and argued the industry lagged "well behind international best practice".
These findings ran counter to two of very few Royal Commission findings that came down in favour of current construction industry practices.
The Government has repeatedly postponed release of the Royal Commission report on which Abbott is expected launch a legislative assault on the rights of construction industry industry workers.
Union officials rejected Econotech's comparitive modelling as mischevious.
Victorian CFMEU secretary, Martin Kingham, said modelling based on there being no difference between building a house and a 50-storey skyscraper was "mad".
"When was the last time Tony Abbott saw a suburban home site with multiple cranes, lift shafts, kilometres of cables, dozens of equipment movements every hour and hundreds of wokers handling massive amounts of concrete, steel and glass?" Kingham asked.
More important, he said, the Minister had "conveniently ignored" his consultant's prediction of a fall in sector employment of between 4% and 5.2% to balance productivity improvements.
On that basis, Kingham said, Abbott's plan would cost up to 1000 construction jobs in Victoria alone.
"The economic gains Abbott wants would go straight into the pockets of developers and leave hundreds of Victorians out of work," he said.
CFMEU national secretary John Sutton said the whole report was "unhelpful".
"The Government paid the Royal Commission 60 million of our money to get the answers it wanted. Unfortunately, for them, it found the industry was very productive so the Minister went out and got another report to say the opposite," Sutton said.
He pointed out that the Royal Commission had also found the less unionised domestic and civil sectors were responsible for a higher percentage of serious accidents than the strongly-unionised commercial area. The Commission's OH&S Discussion Paper noted "noticeably higher rates (of compensation claims)" in the domestic sector and said it was "evident that the civil area causes a greater number of claims per 1000 employees than does other construction work."
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