||Issue No. 208||13 February 2004|
All The Way With FTA?
Interview: Trading in Principle
Unions: While We Were Away
Politics: Follow the Leader
Bad Boss: Safety Recidivist Fingered
Economics: Casualisation Shrouded In Myths
History: Worker Control Harco Style
Review: Other Side Of The Harbour
State Of Confusion
Give Them A Medal
Taskforce Ignores Million Dollar Rorts
Confirmation that the Taskforce which aggressively pursues legal action against building workers, isn’t enforcing employer obligations, came in written answers supplied to the Senate by officials from the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.
Replying to questions asked by Senator Jacinta Collins, departmental officials conceded the Taskforce is aware of allegations of underpayments and non-payments of entitlements on building sites around Australia, but does nothing about them.
"It is not part of the Taskforce's remit to investigate instances of underpayment of employee entitlements in the building and construction industry," officials said.
CFMEU national secretary, John Sutton, says the admission confirms his union's contention that the Taskforce is biased in its dealings with industry players.
Sutton says underpayments are a major industrial problem for building and construction that the Taskforce has simply "washed its hands of".
He produced figures showing that branches of his union have retrieved more than $30 million in underpayments for building workers over a three year period.
The last audited figures, to February 2002, show CFMEU branches returning massive amounts of owed money to dudded workers. Victoria retrieved $10,687,616 and NSW more than $11,629,000 for the period.
Transforming the Taskforce into a permanent fixture on the construction landscape is a central plank in a Bill the Federal Government is trying to ram through Parliament.
Sutton said the Taskforce, a key recommendation of the Cole Royal Commission, should instead be disbanded.
He said the answers supplied to Senate questions confirmed what the union had believed ever since the Taskforce was established.
"It is only interested in chasing unions and workers. When it comes to the most basic breaches of federal awards, you won't see this Taskforce for dust," he said.
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