The Senate vote to end the Australian Building and Construction Commission is a win for Australian workers and ends seven years of biased attacks on unions and workers.
ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said the ABCC was the last vestige of WorkChoices, and its abolition was long overdue.
“This is a great step forward for construction workers, and for any Australian who cares about workers’ rights,” Mr Lawrence said.
“Construction workers have been subject to extreme powers – including secret interrogations – which do not apply to workers in any other industry.
“Although the new Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate retains some of these coercive powers there are some safeguards on their use.
“We continue to believe the powers should be removed altogether and construction workers treated like any other employee.”
“The new inspectorate must prove it is a genuinely independent regulator and examine employers and workers equally.”
Mr Lawrence said the ABCC did virtually nothing about safety issues, misconduct by employers or sham contracting arrangements which avoid billions of dollars a year in tax.
Claims about its impact on productivity have been highly exaggerated, he said.
“Despite the colourful claims of corruption and thuggery used to justify the ABCC’s existence, it has failed to find widespread wrongdoing by union officials, despite spending $135 million of taxpayers money.
“Earlier this year the ABCC was forced to launch an internal investigation into the failed prosecution of Victorian CFMEU officials John Setka and Matt Hudson.
“ABCC investigators admitted to having lost or destroyed evidence including audio recordings, and changed their own statements to the court.”
“The existence of the ABCC was a shameful stain on Australia’s proud reputation as a country which respects the rights of unions and workers.
“The building and construction industry employs almost a million hard-working Australian men and women who make a massive contribution to the national economy.
“They have never deserved to be treated this way.
“The decision to abolish it is a great day for anyone who cares about workers’ rights.”