JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Government claims building union threatens viability

Ted Baillieu.

Ted Baillieu. Photo: Jason South

THE Baillieu government will argue at a trial next month that its ability to govern Victoria will be reduced if a legal challenge to its crackdown on union-friendly deals in the building industry is successful.

It emerged in the Federal Court on Wednesday that lawyers for the Baillieu government will use constitutional arguments in their bid to defeat the case brought by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.

That will include arguing that its ability to govern Victoria will be impaired if it loses the case.

The trial in the Federal Court - which is expected to begin next month - is a crucial test of the state's new building code, which took effect from the middle of 2012. The code is a key part of the Baillieu government's plan to control building costs and change work practices in the industry.

If builders breach those rules through union-friendly deals, they risk missing out on government work.

Before Christmas The Age revealed that the government would ban major builder Lend Lease for up to four years due to a deal it signed with the CFMEU that requires union flags to be flown on site and placed limits on the use of outside labour.

The case in the Federal Court relates to Lend Lease's bid to build the $630 million Bendigo hospital; it is the builder for one of the two consortiums that is tendering for it. Lawyers for the CFMEU are arguing that the government is breaching the federal Fair Work Act by either threatening to or banning Lend Lease from the tender.

Finance minister Robert Clark, through a spokesman, said it considered its rules to be ''fully consistent with the Fair Work Act''.

''It would be beyond the constitutional power of the Commonwealth to restrict the state's ability to undertake key public projects in the way being sought by the CFMEU,'' he said.

''The [code] guidelines are intended to help bring an end to the kinds of unlawful practices and consequent cost blowouts for which the Victorian construction industry has been notorious.''

31 comments

  • The sooner these lawless trade unions are smashed the better off this state will be. The CFMEU are even worse than the BLF was.

    Commenter
    Dave
    Location
    St Kilda
    Date and time
    February 21, 2013, 7:07AM
    • Hi Dave, you and me are much alike. How about you come work for me, casual of course. $15P/H for 38 hours, weekend work and unpaid overtime expected. Call?

      Commenter
      AM
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 21, 2013, 7:54AM
    • Here Here!
      And when they're through with the lawless union the government will be well on it's way to smashing lawless bankers, lawless town planners, lawless civil engineers, lawless builders and even the lawless lawmakers themselves!

      Commenter
      david
      Location
      vic
      Date and time
      February 21, 2013, 7:56AM
    • Go to admit union behaviour of recent times may have irreparably damaged Unionism in our country. The sad part is that once there was a time where I might have believed some might have been trying to ensure workers were not exploited and could be safe.(like AM infers)

      We've had the debacle with the riots bought to you by the CMFEU. Yet a significant number of workers on that job voiced their objection to that unions interference with the reading of a group letter on ABC radio.

      We've had the HSU leadership acting like a bunch of Roman Emperors instead of protecting the rights of Australias lowest paid workers. Craig Thompson...seriously. No wonder Abbott was like a shark circling a bleeding seal.

      The problem I see it, is that the Unions have lost credibility...like Labour Thats not to say I believe they have no place or no role, nor do I believe the other 'side' any more either.. I think they are viewed more as obstinate, obstructionist and try to dictate who employers will hire..with an 'or else' approach.

      If that view is wrong then maybe all the 'good' they are doing is never reported.

      Commenter
      MattG
      Date and time
      February 21, 2013, 8:25AM
    • The problem with the BLF was that Norm Gallagher was on the take. If he hadn't been, the bosses would have got even more grief from its militant membership. The CFMEU, however, is the cleanest thing in the building industry. As a result, it gets good wages and conditions for its members. Safety, however, is the biggest issue and the CFMEU hasn't yet totally succeeded in what is still a dangerous industry. Ted Baillieu is going to war against the strongest force for safety in the building industry - the people whose lives are at stake.

      Commenter
      Greg Platt
      Location
      Brunswick
      Date and time
      February 21, 2013, 9:11AM
    • Greg Platt - I nearly spat my coffee all over my desk when I read your claim that the CFMEU "is the cleanest thing in the building industry"! Are you serious? How many times has the CFMEU and its leaders been hauled before the Building Commission? How many times has the CFMEU bullied its members to down tools and go on strike to punish an employer? Remember the $1 million fine given to the CFMEU as a result of the Westgate Bridge dispute (even Simon Crean had to describe their behaviour as 'indefensible')? Remember the illegal blockade of Grocon building sites last year, including the one at the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre? Remember the violence of the CFMEU members perpetrated against our Police last year?

      The CFMEU have a long record of thumbing their nose at the law and ignoring court judgements. The cleanest thing in the building industry? Are you kidding us?

      Commenter
      Dave
      Location
      St Kilda
      Date and time
      February 21, 2013, 10:43AM
    • Hawke & Keating understood that doing what was best for workers was not necessarily the same as what would most benefit the unions. Gillard & the many former union officials and industrial lawyers in her gov’t are now running a union agenda - even though this won't benefit most workers.

      Labor has rejected the aspirational voters it courted in the 1980s & turned its focus to the union bosses who represent a shrinking & unrepresentative share of the workforce. Union influence needs to be reviewed, it's just another reason why people are turning off Labor. That a minority of 18% of union members can dictate to any gov't, any worker or any voter how they should operate or live their life is beyond belief.

      Commenter
      ian
      Date and time
      February 21, 2013, 11:03AM
    • AWU boss Paul Howes on ABC Nightline last night: “we’ve been running a pitched BATTLE with the mining companies since 2007...” Typical Labor thug. Maybe you should try co-operating with your employer Paul. After all, these are the same people who provide jobs for your 140,000 members. That such a little man wields so much influence on our political system, should be of concern to all Australians. How is that AWU Training Levy going Paul? You know the one you use to strong arm funds out of every company & for which you provide zero training?

      Commenter
      john
      Date and time
      February 21, 2013, 11:04AM
    • In a speech to the AWU nat’l conference on the Gold Coast, Wayne Swan defended Julia Gillard as the "toughest warrior for Labor values in our history". And just what are those Labor values? Maybe Ms. Gillard can now clarify her involvement in the setting up of the AWU union slush fund and enlighten us as to her Labor values and her relationship with the unions, then & now. 18% of union members seems to dictate 100% to everyone. I say more power to Baillieu, the unions are out of control thanks to Gillard.

      Commenter
      bill
      Date and time
      February 21, 2013, 11:09AM
    • Greg the CFMEU have driven down productivity year upon year and continually forcing projects to run overtime and over budget. I but if they paid the guys a set price for a job instead of an hourly rate the job would get done in a quater of the time.

      The union should have absolutley no say as to what shop stewards run what sites and should definatley not be able to set the contractors pay rate at sites that is the building companies job.

      If the unions want to run their own construction companies why don't they? Thats right it would end up doing what your union mates in Canberra have done and gone broke really quickly.

      Have a look at all of the construction workers out of jobs now expecting companies to sack workers on 457 visa doing jobs they didn't want to do before.

      I say give more jobs to overseas construction companies and allow more workers on 457 visa the get paid the award wage and you get real work from them... The problem with the guys is that the want above the award wages and rediculous allowances then are unproductive who would want to employ a lazy buch of sheep that baabaa everytime the union tells them to.

      CFMEU is so big and powerful... could lend Juila and Swannie 100Billion to getthem out of debt.

      Commenter
      Andrew
      Location
      Essendon
      Date and time
      February 21, 2013, 12:27PM

More comments

Comments are now closed
Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo