||Issue No. 272||15 July 2005|
Home Ground Advantage
Interview: Battle Stations
Unions: The Workers, United
Politics: The Lost Weekend
Industrial: Truth or Dare
History: A Class Act
Economics: The Numbers Game
International: Blonde Ambition
Training: The Trade Off
Review: Bore of the Worlds
Poetry: The Beaters Medley
The Locker Room
The vision thing
You C.A.N. Do It
Andrews Faces "Thuggery" Challenge
CFMEU national secretary, John Sutton, threw down the gauntlet after Andrews claimed the industry was the scene of ongoing "thuggery and intimidation", last week.
Andrews levelled the accusations in defence of a government blacklist of employers who don't agree with its hardline industrial relations stance.
"This government's legislation, and its code, have nothing to do with thuggery," Sutton said. "They are attempts to hold down the living standards of building workers and their families.
"Efforts to wrap that agenda in a law and order cloak are blatantly dishonest and they insult tens of thousands of building workers.
"It's time for Kevin Andrews to put up or shut up."
Last week, Andrews again urged industry employers not to sign collective agreements with building workers. In case they are tempted, he confirmed, they would be barred from access to tens of millions of dollars worth of work.
Sutton said the Minister's emotive language fitted a pattern the government had used since coming to power in 1996.
In that period, he said, it had ...
- spent $65 million on a Royal Commission into the Building Industry that utilised more than 120 investigators to dig dirt on CFMEU members
- written special legislation for the industry that bars almost all forms of industrial action, including meetings, on pain of imprisonment
- established a special Building Industry Taskforce and given dozens of its officers, mostly lawyers and former police officers, sweeping coercive powers
- written a Code for the industry which used a blacklist to try and dissuade employers from negotiating with the union
Sutton said for all the "colour and dirt" of the Royal Commission, where sensational evidence dragged on in state capitals for more than a year, it resulted in only one prosecution, nationwide, and that was of a Western Australian building company.
He said the federal government campaign appeared to be built on the theory that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth.
The actions of the Taskforce, he said, had unmasked its true agenda.
"The Taskforce spends millions of dollars chasing union members and trying to hold down wages and conditions but turns a blind eye to any illegality when our members are on the receiving end," Sutton said.
He said Taskforce boss, Nigel Hadgkiss, had admitted as much when he conceded issues of importance to workers were "outside his remit".
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