Melbourne construction workers had an important victory yesterday. Union organisers from the militant CFMEU physically blocked entry to the giant ferris wheel site at the Docklands, blocking a planned concrete pour.
One of the contractors on the job, JA Dodd, has recently been partially taken over by investors with a long anti-union record in Queensland. The company refused to pay the site allowance, saving themselves $118,000 in workers’ pay.
When the union took the company to the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC), JA Dodd were ordered to pay the allowance. They refused.
If workers or union officials acted in contempt of court they would be arrested, fined and face jail terms. It’s a different law for companies in Howard’s Australia and now Rudd’s Australia.
The Australian Building Construction Commission (ABCC) backed the company, in defiance of the IRC. This quasi-police force has the right to arrest construction workers indefinitely and without access to a lawyer. Construction workers have less rights than terrorist suspects. Nevertheless Rudd – the great democrat – has pledged to keep the ABCC until at least 2010.
Workers and their union had a simple choice: surrender or fight. They fought. Yesterday’s blockade led to the company calling the ABCC and Victorian Police down to the site. The police didn’t want to get involved.
After a stand-off that went on for several hours, the pour was abandoned and a victory was won by the workers!
Not surprisingly the Master Builders Association (MBA, the construction bosses’ union) had kittens. MBA Executive Director, Brian Welsh, told the Herald Sun>: “I struggle to believe that they (the union) would be so stupid as to stop a concrete pour. Their conduct has sunk to the level of the BLF.”
Believe it, Mr Welsh. Construction workers are fed up with the ABCC and cocky bosses, we are getting more militant and 2008 will be an interesting year.
By Socialist Party reporters