||Issue No. 310||09 June 2006|
I'm No Economist, But ….
Interview: Rock Solid
Industrial: Eight Simple Rules for Employing My Teenage Daughter
Politics: The Johnnie Code
Energy: Fission Fantasies
History: All The Way With Clarrie O'Shea
International: Closer to Home
Economics: Taking the Fizz
Unions: Stronger Together
Review: Montezuma's Revenge
Poetry: Fair Go Gone
The Locker Room
Greens Are Good For You
Calling All Micks!
Coming Up Swinging
Mining For Gold
Blood Spangled Banner
Never To Be Repeated Offer
Bog Standards, Hanssen Exposed
Hanssen brushed repeated pleas for female facilities until the teenager quit, her boyfriend said.
"I asked Hanssen twice, in person, to provide a female toilet and told him the conditions were disgusting," labourer Josh Denford, told Workers Online.
"Eventually, I wrote him a letter and stuck it on the windscreen of his car but nothing happened.
"Kelly was the only woman at Terrace Rd and she had to share a toilet with 100 blokes. It was completely unfair."
Personal accounts of Hanssen horrors have started to filter out of WA since an anonymous employee poured cold water over the magnate's defence of his working conditions, last Friday.
A posse of journalists saw the labourer tip a mug of water over Hanssen and ask him how he liked working in the rain, during a media conference, outside one of his apartment projects.
Hanssen, an activist supporter of Canberra's IR agenda, has been at the centre of controversy since he was sprung importing Filipinos and Chinese, and working them seven days a week a week for around half what a WA construction worker would get.
Locals he does employ come through Construct Labour Solutions - formerly Tricord Personnel and, before that, Tricord Realty - and are classed as "independent contractors".
The manoeuvre allows Tricord, and Hanssen, to undercut other builders by absolving themselves of insurance, super, holidays and other liabilities.
According to the CFMEU, almost all workers that Construct provides are young and green, yet when skilled workers call Construct's employment ads in the West Australian, they're told that there's no work available in the Perth CBD. And the arrangement also muddies the water with regard to OH&S responsibilities.
But it wasn't just the facilities that drove Denford and his girlfriend away from Finbar Hanssen jobs.
Both suffered accidents at work and came to believe conditions were downright dangerous.
Denford was left swinging five metres above the ground when a crane tagline flicked back and hoisted him by the wrist.
"I was dogging (riding the hook) and rigging. I was loving it but I didn't have any tickets or experience," he said.
"We were lifting a tonne up when the tagline lashed back and hoisted me off the ground. It shook me up quite a bit, I can tell you.
"I had heard of plenty of injuries but the people just disappeared and you never saw them again."
Kelly, who didn't want her surname used, was employed to lag pipes but soon found herself doing scaffolding.
The teenager had a fall and crushed a nerve in her elbow.
Denford said he never held an industry green card until he left Hanssen's employment and completed a course at the CFMEU training centre.
Another Hanssen escapee said he earned $600 a week more since moving to a job covered by a union agreement.
Mike Bacci, 30, slammed the independent contractor set-up as a "complete sham".
He revealed that Construct made massive deductions out of wages that were already well shy of industry standards.
Workers are promised flat payments of around $23 an hour for 50-55 hour weeks, he said.
But Tricord rips back up to $5 an hour to cover insurance, super and expenses.
No standard safety gear is provided. Employees have to fork out for their own helmets, boots, gloves and glasses.
"I'm a bloody labourer," Bacci says, "who wants to contract themselves out as a labourer?
"He's found a scam and he's working it. I got $20 an hour, flat, and out of that they deducted $1 an hour for insurance and I had to pay my own super.
"They had me in charge of a steel fixing crew but I didn't have a clue.
"They give me a pair of nips and a reel, and off I went."
Bacci says those lack of standards could have serious implications for Hanssen projects, down the track.
He knew his way around the industry, especially air conditioning, but says he learned steel fixing by trial and error with minimal supervision.
"I know we made some mistakes but the engineer never checked. It's a bit late to go back when they're up to the fifth floor," he said.
Bacci lasted five months and warned others to think twice about working for the company, even as a stop-gap measure.
"Experienced blokes just won't stay. I must have seen 40 good tradesmen come and go while I was there," he said.
"Health and safety is probably the worst thing. I was there three months before I had an OH&S induction and it was the storeman who carried it out.
"I went down a hole which wasn't covered myself."
Employees told Workers Online the most visible shortcomings were lack of fall protection and uncovered steel rods.
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