||Issue No. 180||30 May 2003|
Interview: Staying Alive
Bad Boss: The Ultimate Piss Off
Industrial: Last Drinks
National Focus: Around the States
Politics: Radical Surgery
Education: The Price of Missing Out
Legal: If At First You Don't Succeed
History: Massive Attack
Culture: What's Right
Review: If He Should Fall
Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Satire: IMF Ensures Iraq Institutes Market Based Looting
The Locker Room
Unions Deserve Reputation
Strong Stuff – Commission Star in Court
Strong, having been found to have owed the money to five drivers by the IRC last November, tried unsuccessfully to have those orders overturned mid-May. This week he was back in Local Court attempting to have proceedings stayed.
Frustrated TWU South Coast official Richard Olsen said Strong's "stone walling" threatened the viability of some of the independent operators involved.
"Two of these guys are owed $6000 and $8600 for work they did for his company. Take amounts like that out of a small business and you get problems," Olsen said.
Strong's company, S&B Industries, contracted the drivers to do work on several Sydney building sites. They have been trying to recover their money since last year.
It was around that time that Strong and wife, Barbara, were holding Cole Commission observers spellbound with lurid claims of union standover tactics, including attempts at bribery and threats of violence.
The targets of these allegations, covered in detail by the mass media, were officials of the CFMEU's NSW branch.
But when Counsel Assisting the Commission were finally convinced they should check the Strongs' claims against available telephone and police records, they started to crumble.
No records could be found of telephone conversations sworn to and police records, far from endorsing evidence of an official complaint about union behaviour, revealed Mrs Strong complaining about a sub-contractor hassling her for overdue payments.
In denying all the Strongs' allegations, CFMEU witnesses said S&B Industries had attracted attention because it habitually ran unsafe sites and ducked employment and statutory obligations.
In his final report, Building Industry Royal Commissioner Terence Cole, returned a number of adverse findings against the CFMEU and its officials based on the contested evidence of the Strongs.
Mrs Strong gave sworn evidence to the Royal Commission that S&B Industries had been forced out of business by the CFMEU. Since the Commission completed its Sydney hearings last September, however, S&B Industries has
- had a site in Glebe shut down by health and safety authority Workcover because of unsafe practices
- operated a demolition site without required council approval
- faced a variety of creditors - employees and sub-countractors - in court
- faced CFMEU claims in court for more than $10,000 in alleged underpayments to four employees
- had the IRC find it owed more than $26,000 to five self-employed drivers
- seen the IRC reject a subsequent attempt to have those orders stayed
- taken civil court action to try and prevent assets being sold to meet its debts
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