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News Media Releases Unions secure payment for exploited workers on Diploma Constructions worksite, despite ABCC interference
Unions secure payment for exploited workers on Diploma Constructions worksite, despite ABCC interference
Friday, 19 August 2011 15:59

Unions have welcomed payments made to 28 Chinese workers who had gone for 10 weeks without receiving pay for work completed on the Diploma Constructions Riverside Apartments building site on Adelaide Terrace in Perth.

The issue of withheld payments for the workers took weeks to resolve. After extensive discussions with Perth Gyprock Solutions and Diploma Constructions, UnionsWA and the CFMEU were successful in securing the workers payment for most of the money owed.

UnionsWA has criticised the extent of sham contracting in the construction industry which made it difficult to establish who was responsible for the workers’ pay. In the meantime, some of the workers who had travelled interstate for this work, were sleeping in cars and had no money for food.

The group of workers have been rallying regularly for the past two weeks outside the offices of the Riverside Apartments developer, Frasers Property. UnionsWA Secretary Simone McGurk said it is incredibly disappointing that these workers were incorrectly hired as sub-contractors rather than employees and that they have had to fight so hard to ensure they received the money owed to them.

“This case is a terrible example of the problems with sham contracting in the building industry. Unscrupulous employers try to minimise their responsibility towards the workers they engage by taking them on as sub-contractors rather than as employees.”

“This case should never have come to bare in the first place however we are pleased that with the support of their union, these workers have finally received some of the money owed to them.”

The dispute highlighted the extent of sham contracting in the construction industry and has led to further union criticism of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

Rather than working with unions to assist the workers receive the money owed to them, the ABCC’s involvement further delayed resolution of this issue. The ABCC was successful in placing a gag on the union representing the workers, the CFMEU, stopping the union speaking publicly about the workers’ plight.

The negative role continued as the ABCC harassed young Chinese workers seeking information, and finally last week tried to interfere with workers receiving payments, insisting that the money be paid  to the workers via the ABCC trust account.

UnionsWA Sec S McGurk says the issue highlights the vulnerability of foreign workers, many of whom have limited English, but also demonstrated to her the destructive role played by the ABCC.

“The ABCC took the CFMEU to the federal court gagging them from speaking publicly about these workers being denied pay on a site. How is that in the public interest?  They then harassed the youngest of the Chinese workers, I suppose hoping to  get information.  They acted like secret police.”

“The ABCC played nothing but a negative role in this issue, and only delayed payment to the workers. It is time for the ABCC to go.”

The workers union, the CFMEU, was issued an injunction by the ABCC preventing them from commenting on issues relating to Diploma Constructions on this worksite.

Simone McGurk is available for comment.

For more information contact: Madeleine Holme - 0417 060 360

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