||Issue No. 213||19 March 2004|
Pay For View
Interview: Baby Bust
Safety: Dust To Dust
Bad Boss: Shaming in Print
National Focus: Work's Cripplin' Us
International: Bulk Bullies
History: The Battle for Kelly's Bush
Economics: Aid, Trade And Oil
Review: The Art Of Work
Poetry: Sew His Lips Together
Tom On Drink
Howard Screws Vets
"Anarchy" Warning from Builders
The Queensland organisation broke ranks with Master Builders nationally, refusing to support a cornerstone of the proposed Building and Construction Industry Improvement Bill, that would ban pattern bargaining.
"Wage justice has long been defined as circumstances where workers doing identical work in close proximity to one another receive identical remuneration, wherever practicable," The Queensland Master Builders told a Senate Inquiry.
"A system that encourages individual employers to pay differing wages to workers performing similar tasks on the same site, is a recipe for industrial anarchy and cannot be supported."
Bill architect and former Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, has hung his political hat on banning pattern bargaining, insisting that unions sign "genuine" separate agreements on wages and conditions with every contractor and sub-contractor on each site.
He has gone as far as to withhold millions of dollars in Federal funds from infrastructure projects because head contractors had signed pattern, or project, agreements with building unions.
But Queensland employers say the system won't work for reasons of justice and practicality.
"The industry has continued to negotiate pattern agreements within certain parameters as a deliberate strategy to minimise industrial disruption," it says.
It warns that under Abbott's "genuine enterprise bargaining" the most industrially vulnerable parties would be at extreme risk.
For similar reasons, the Queensland MBA defends project agreements and current union methods of determining whether or not to take industrial action.
"Master Builders strongly supports a revamped industrial relations system that provides for registered project agreements to cater for the specific needs of the BCI (building and construction industry)," it says.
It dismisses Federal Government proposals to demand pre-strike ballots as "lunacy".
While the submissions represent a break with the pro-Government line of its national organisation. Queensland MBA strongly supported the proposal for a third party to police the industry.
It lamented the success of last year's industrial campaign, spearheaded by the CFMEU and ETU, as "the worst period of industrial disputation ever witnessed by the commercial sector".
Master Builders told the inquiry unions has won "above community standard" settlements on wages, working hours, travel allowances, super payments and redundancy insurance.
The national Master Builders Association, which has aggressively supported the Bill, admitted to the Senate Inquiry it had hired its Industrial Relations Director straight from Abbott's office without advertising the position.
Howard in Dock
Meanwhile, the ILO will examine an official complaint that the Bill violates basic labour freedom.
The ACTU has told the International Labor Organisation that proposed legislation will seriously restrict the ability of Australian building workers to bargain collectively.
"The ACTU is seeking a determination from the ILO as to whether the proposed law is in contravention of Australia's international human rights obligations," president Sharan Burrow confirmed.
The ILO was established by the United Nations to oversee human rights and international agreements as they apply to workplace issues.
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