Senate must act to stop militant thugs crippling building sites

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11 August 2015

Master Electricians Australia today urged the Senate to pass the Federal Government’s laws to reinstate the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) when the matter is brought to a vote in coming weeks.

MEA Manager – Workplace Policy Jason O’Dwyer welcomed media reports today that the Government planned to reintroduce the laws to protect workers and employers on building sites from industrial thuggery.

Mr O’Dwyer said the Government had taken its commitment to restore the ABCC to the last election, and clearly had a mandate to bring an end to unlawful activities in the construction sector.

“The ongoing Royal Commission has heard some truly frightening accounts of unlawful standover tactics, threats of violence and bullying behaviour on the nation’s building sites,” Mr O’Dwyer said.

“Many of these claims have been supported by video evidence, and we know from our members that there are many more examples of this behaviour that is not caught on camera. Many of the perpetrators are union organisers and delegates who are no longer even under the control of their own union bosses.

“The simple fact is that thuggish and unlawful behaviour on building sites is crippling productivity in the industry, and while very large contractors may be able to withstand the financial costs, it is having a massive impact on smaller contractors.”

Mr O’Dwyer said the proposed powers contained within the legislation were not new in the Australian context, and were already available to other government agencies such as Centrelink, the ACCC, ASIC and the ATO.

“So it’s simply a nonsense to suggest that the Government is singling out the building sector for special treatment. There are powers available to ensure that laws and good corporate practices are followed across all industries.

“It is only the construction sector where law-abiding workers and business owners are being stood over, verbally abused and physically menaced while trying to go about their work. Those people are sick of being singled out in their workplaces by lawless thugs, and they are urging the Parliament to protect them.”

Mr O’Dwyer said that Master Electricians Australia’s requests for meetings with cross-bench Senators to discuss the issue had fallen on deaf ears in many cases.

“Some Senators have ignored our requests to meet with our members and hear first-hand what is taking place on work sites across the country. It makes us wonder where they are getting their information from.”

Jason O’Dwyer is available for interviews. Contact SAS Media & Communications on 07 3171 2960

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