||Issue No. 267||10 June 2005|
Rivers of Gold
Interview: The Baby Drought
Industrial: Lies, AWAs and Statistics
Workplace: The Invisible Parents
History: Bruce’s Big Blunder
Politics: All God's Children
Economics: Spun Out
International: Shakey Trials
Legal: Civil Distrubance
Review: Crash Course In Racism
Poetry: You're Fired
The Locker Room
All The Way With The USA
Expensive Door Charge
Teen Years in Detention
Court Cases are Media’s Drug
Lang Is Right
Hertz Meenz Hurtz
Andrews Faces Probe
CFMEU legal officer, Jesse Madisson, said evidence of "coercion" was being evaluated after six national building companies defied Canberra to agree on a draft three-year agreement.
The EBA, which retains the 36-hours week and delivers 13 percent wage movements, is expected to be signed by Multiplex, Bovis Lend Lease, LU Simon, ProBuild, and Baulderstone Hornibrook in the next few days.
"The underlying basis of the Workplace Relations Act is that parties should be free to reach agreements," Madisson says. "The Act forbids third party interference but the federal government has interfered, openly and aggressively, ever since we started negotiating.
"They have put every obstacle possible in our path and were still making threats this week.
"There has been an enormous amount of pressure placed on companies in an effort to stop them dealing with the CFMEU.
"We will be assessing individual cases with a view to exercising the legal remedies available to us."
The Government was desperate to get building companies to hold off negotiations until new industrial relations laws, limiting workers' rights and introducing harsh penalties, had been enacted.
Based on the discredited Cole Royal Commission, it has already enacted building industry specific laws, making almost any form of industrial action, including meetings, illegal.
These laws include gaol terms and fines of up to $22,000 for individual building workers, and fines of $110,000, per breach, for their unions.
They will be enforced by a special building industry police force with the power to over-ride basic civil rights. The Building Industry Commission can interrogate workers, order them to hand over documents and deny them the right to silence.
It may order a building worker not to divulge anything that transpires during an interrogation session to anyone but his/her lawyer.
The $65 Cole Commission lost its final shred of credibility, last week, when Building Industry Commission boss, Nigel Hadgkiss, admitted more than a year of investigations and hearings had resulted in just one prosecution, Australia-wide.
Former Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, justified the taxpayer-funded Commission by claiming the industry was blighted by corruption and standover tactics.
Since the CFMEU began negotiations on a new EBA, Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has urged employers not to deal; written letters offering support to those who held out; and even threatened to deny companies starts on multi-million dollar federal contracts.
The government has devised its own building industry code and threatened to black blacklist employers who negotiate outside its parameters.
In a last-ditch effort to derail the Victorian agreement, Andrews was this week threatening to over-rule advice from his own department that the draftagreement was code compliant.
Madisson said the government was gearing-up for an all-out assault on building workers' living standards.
"That's why this agreement is important," he said. "It locks in the terms and conditions of our members for another three years."
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