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News Media Releases ABCC must remove CFMEU media gag
ABCC must remove CFMEU media gag
Tuesday, 09 August 2011 09:14

Media Release 8 August 2011

ABCC must remove CFMEU media gag and investigate ongoing problems on Diploma Constructions building site

Continuing problems on the troubled Queens Riverside Apartments construction site have prompted unions to call for the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) to lift an injunction preventing the CFMEU from speaking publicly about issues on the Diploma Constructions site.

As well as ongoing issues between sub-contractors, including Joe Scaffidi’s Premier Building Solutions, a group of Chinese workers have been fighting for over $230,000 in unpaid wages. The group of 28 workers have not been paid for up to eight weeks.

 

UnionsWA has been calling on developer Frasers Property to intervene as Diploma Constructions, the main contractor, has been unable to ensure the workers are paid by the relevant sub-contractors.

UnionsWA, the state’s peak union body, has had to intervene in the case as the ABCC has placed a media gag on the CFMEU in relation to that particular site. UnionsWA Secretary Simone McGurk said this exemplified the skewed priorities of the Howard-era ABCC.

“Part of the problems on this site stem from the fact that there are so many layers of sub-contractors that it becomes difficult to ascertain who has the ultimate responsibility for these workers. Sham contracting is rife within the construction industry and instead of pursuing this issue the ABCC is making it harder for construction unions to represent vulnerable workers by issuing media gags.”

Sham contracting refers to a situation whereby workers are incorrectly employed as sub-contractors rather than as direct employees in order for an employer to minimise their obligations and responsibility.

“Unfortunately we continue to see case after case where foreign workers with limited English language skills and a poor understanding of their rights are exploited by unscrupulous employers. These workers are often afraid of speaking out as many are in a situation where there work visa is dependent on them being employed. If they are dismissed for raising issues relating to their employment they are likely to also then face deportation.”

“It is pathetic that instead of investigating the real issues of sham contracting and the exploitation of vulnerable foreign workers, the ABCC is making it harder for unions to assist these workers.”

Since the group of Chinese workers began protesting last week, union intervention has assisted in securing partial payment however the bulk of their owed wages remains outstanding. One of the workers was badly injured whilst on site and he continues to have his workers compensation claim ignored.

ACTU President Ged Kearney and Simone McGurk met with the workers last week and have committed the support of the federal and state peak union bodies to ensure they receive their entitlements.

For more information contact: Madeleine Holme - 0417 060 360

Email: mholme@unionswa.com.au

 
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