New building code to loosen union grasp

By: Carene Chong

Presented by
  • Earthmovers & Excavators

The Federal Government’s new building and construction code, revealed before Easter, will significantly reduce union’s say in the industry’s work practices.

New building code to loosen union grasp
The Federal Government's new building code will lessen the union's say in industry work practices.

Under the new code, construction companies will be given more control over all aspects of undertaken projects such as number and types of employees and sub-contractors engaged.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz says the code, launched last Thursday was designed to restore the rule of law and fairness to Australia’s construction sector.

"For too long, the building and construction sector has provided the worst examples of industrial relations lawlessness," he says.

"Our new code, together with a stronger Australian Building and Construction Comission (ABCC), will help get the building and construction industry back on track."

The code sets out the standard of workplace relations conduct expected from contractors who want to perform work funded by the Commonwealth Government.

Contractors covered by enterprise agreements made after April 24 will need to comply with the new construction code in order to tender for and be awarded Commonwealth-funded building work, once the code comes into effect.

Abetz says the code reverses the previous Labor Government’s changes made to appease the building and construction union, CFMEU.

Some key amendments made include:

  • Contractors are no longer required to employ a non-working shop steward or job delegate.
  • No more ‘one in, all in’ clauses where if one person is offered overtime, all other workers must be offered overtime regardless of whether or not there is enough work.
  • Contractors need not obtain the approval of a union over the number or types of employees that they may engage on a project.
  • Contractors need not prescribe union-dictated terms and conditions if they wish to engage subcontractors.

Construction peak body Master Builders Australia has welcomed the new code with open arms.

"The code is another weapon in the armoury against building union industrial thuggery that is shackling the productivity of the building and construction industry," says Master Builders Australia CEO Wilhelm Harnisch.

"It will strengthen the capacity of builders to resist building union stand over tactics and say no to their demands to sign EBAs that enshrine restrictive and unproductive work practices," he adds.

"Such practices drive up costs which are borne by consumers and will not be acceptable under this code."

He says the code is a major step forward in restoring the productivity of the construction industry and need to be backed by other parties in Parliament.

Full details of the new Building and Construction (Fair and Lawful Building Sites) Code 2014 can be viewed here.

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