Senate Inquiry Urged To Drop Building Bill

Senate Inquiry Urged To Drop Building Bill

The ACTU is calling for the withdrawal of the Federal Government's building industry legislation and the establishment instead of a comprehensive new process for dealing with problems in the industry.

In a submission to the Senate Employment Committee’s inquiry into the construction industry today, the ACTU proposes a tripartite system involving employers, unions and governments to address issues including non-payment of entitlements, tax evasion, occupational health and safety, training and skills shortages.

Giving evidence to the Senate Committee hearing today, ACTU President Sharan Burrow and ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said the Committee should recommend that the Government’s Building and Construction Industry Improvement Bill be withdrawn.

‘The legislation is draconian, unworkable and does not address the real issues in the industry. The Bill would impose extraordinary restrictions on unions aimed at lowering working conditions and wages,’ Ms Burrow said.

‘There is no justification for the proposed Australian Building and Construction Commission, which would operate as an anti-union industrial policeman.

‘The Cole Royal Commission on which the Bill is based found no evidence of a culture of criminality in the construction industry. Non-compliance with court or industrial commission orders was found in only five disputes in the last five years.

‘The building industry is Australia’s fourth most labour-efficient industry according to the Productivity Commission. The industry has a world-class record of productivity growth achieved under union agreements,” Ms Burrow said.

The ACTU’s submission to the Senate Committee also proposes:

  • requiring head contractors to pay entitlements owed by subcontractors;
  • allowing entitlements to be claimed from related corporations in insolvencies;
  • changes to the General Employee Entitlement and Redundancy Scheme to cover non-payment of contributions of superannuation and redundancy funds;
  • funding the Office of Workplace Services in the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations to enforce awards, agreements and industrial laws; and
  • changes to the Corporations Act to crack down on the phoenix companies.