||Issue No. 280||09 September 2005|
The Perfect Storm
Interview: Polar Eclipse
Industrial: Wrong Turn
Unions: Star Support
Workplace: Checked Out
Economics: Sold Out
Politics: Green Banned
History: Potted History
International: Curtain Call
Review: Little Fish
Poetry: Slug A Worker
The Locker Room
What Poor People?
CFMEU Pulls $3M Bank Job
Financier Macquarrie Bank coughed up the money after a two-week picket of an apartment development, following the collapse of builder, JLB.
CFMEU state secretary, Andrew Ferguson, confirmed $3 million of the settlement would go to unpaid subcontractors, while another $150,000 had been earmarked for wages and entitlements owed to building workers, clerical workers and management staff.
"They all put their hands up and they were all owed money," Ferguson said.
"I'm not sure if the company went into administration or receivership. It doesn't matter, the point is it didn't pay.
"We will continue this type of action on behalf of workers and family businesses in spite of the threats of the federal government."
The CFMEU has already targeted developers of JLB sites at Wollongong and Dee Why for similar attention.
It made a breakthrough at Dee Why, last week, when money men came across with $10,000 for a dudded building worker.
Similar actions drew the wrath of Terry Cole during his discredited Building Industry Royal Commission on which the government based a range of anti-worker measures.
Last week, the Senate passed the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Bill, which seeks to drastically limit the ability of building workers to defend wages, conditions and entitlements.
The Act makes just about every form of industrial action unlawful and broadens the meaning of industrial action to include anything that deviates from normal work patterns, potentially catching sickies and deliberate lateness.
Restrictions or delays over safety fears will be "unlawful" unless the threat is later judged to have been "imminent".
Individual workers face fines of up to $22,000 and unions can be slugged $110,000 for each breach.
The legislation will be policed by a new Australian Building Industry Commission, likely to be headed up by anti-worker activists Jonathan Hamberger and Nigel Hadgkiss.
Both men, in previous guises, have drawn severe judicial censure, for their actions against the CFMEU.
The Commission will have the power to force building workers to attend secret interrogations sessions where they can be compelled to answer questions and produce documents, and may be ordered not to reveal the details of interrogations to anyone but their lawyers.
Any breach of those provisions is punishable by prison.
The federal government has also announced its intention to introduce special legislation that will "ring fence" contractors from rights and responsibilities conferred by industrial law.
That is a concern to Ian Fullford of the Australian Trades Contractors Association who estimates between 40 and 50 of his members benefited from the Marrickville picket.
He described his organisation's relationship with the CFMEU as "positive".
"They were very reasonable," he said. "They sat down with Macquarrie Bank and ourselves and helped get a settlement.
"I could probably have got an agreement myself but whether I would have been able to get the money, at the end of the day, is another matter.
"To some extent, we have a common interest because, often, when their members don't get paid it is because our members haven't been paid."
Ferguson says federal standover tactics will not intimidate the CFMEU.
It plans pickets of JLB's former sites if financiers do not come across with hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to workers and contractors.
Meanwhile, Workers Online understands that officers from the Building Industry Taskforce have been investigating green bans imposed by the union, including one designed to protect Redfern Oval.
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