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Light rail consortium signs pay deal with construction union and workers union

The pay deal agreed by the tram consortium and key unions includes a $5.50-an-hour "productivity allowance" for all workers on the project, as well as a daily travel allowance of $32.75.

The enterprise agreement will cover all workers directly employed by the private Pacific Partnerships-led consortium that is building the $707 million, 12km tramline from Gungahlin to the city.

The consortium has not given precise numbers for construction, Canberra Metro chief executive Martin Pugh saying between 200 and 500 construction workers would be employed, with 100 to 120 designers on the project at the moment. Separately, the consortium indicated it would employ about 500 construction workers, half directly and half through sub-contractors.

But the enterprise agreement signed on July 7 states a clear preference for direct employment. It says the consortium will directly employ workers covered by the classifications where it can, while leaving open the option of using sub-contractors as supplementary labour in times of peak demand to fill skill shortages and when employees are leave.

The decision to employ directly has outraged Canberra's civil engineering sector, which fears being locked out of the project and also complains of a distortion to pay rates in the territory from generously-paid jobs on the tram build.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Engineering Union ACT secretary Dean Hall said the agreement would give "construction workers, their families and our community a chance to improve their lives through decent and fair pay and conditions".

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"Not since the construction of new Parliament House has there been such an opportunity for construction workers and new entrants," Mr Hall said. "The agreement promotes life-changing opportunity for young workers, women and indigenous workers, real jobs with training and skills that will give prosperity and jobs well beyond this project."

Mr Hall said the project would create "full-time, secure jobs".

The CFMEU and the light rail consortium are holding public information sessions on work opportunities, with the first set down for 6pm on July 27 at the Woden Tradies club.

The agreement, some of which has been made public already, is signed between John Holland and CPB Contractors, and the CFMEU and the Australian Workers Union. It sets out basic wages of $30.23 an hour for an entry-level labourer with fewer than 12 months in the industry, rising to $31.44 by April, and 4 per cent each year after that. The pay rates move through nine levels, to $40.84 an hour for a crane operator and $42.55 for a materials coordinator. All pay rates increase 4 per cent a year.

Apprentices under 21 start on $17.03; adult apprentices start on $25.55.

Everyone gets the $5.50 hourly allowance and the $32.75-a-day travelling allowance. A meal allowance of $25 is paid after 90 minutes' overtime.

Workers whose home is more than 100 kilometres away are paid an allowance of $550 a week if they live away from home.

The working week is 36 hours, between 6am and 6pm, with time and a half or double time paid on weekends and for overtime. Afternoon and night shifts are paid a 50 per cent loading. Work on critical works during bad weather is paid at double time, and temperatures over 35C spark a safety review to check whether work can continue.

Workers get a fixed rostered day off following each of six public holidays.

The consortium has agreed to pay $2 a week per employee to the CFMEU's Construction Charitable Works, an organisation that supports workers with counselling, housing and retraining. It is also an organisation whose charitable status was questioned by the royal commission into trade unions, which suggested in December that it did not qualify as a charity at all, but was used to generate profits for the union – a suggestion referred for investigation, but rejected by Mr Hall.

The tram consortium will also pay $98 a week for each employee into the Australian Construction Industry Redundancy Trust and top up workers' compensation protection.

The deal provided for a consultative forum, with four managers and four employees, to meet at least four times a year to monitor the agreement.

The workers covered include labourers, steel workers, concrete finishers, forklift operators, riggers, scaffolders, crane operators, tractor, excavator, loader and other machinery operators, and other trades.