Govt bargaining vision 'failed' in construction industry

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Govt bargaining vision 'failed' in construction industry

Industry-level agreements will be around 'for some time to come' in the building and construction industry given the failure of successive pieces of legislation designed to stop such bargaining, according to the latest discussion paper released by the Cole Royal Commission yesterday.

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Industry-level agreements will be around 'for some time to come' in the building and construction industry given the failure of successive pieces of legislation designed to stop such bargaining, according to the latest discussion paper released by the Cole Royal Commission yesterday.

The paper, 'A history of recent industrial relations events in the Australian building and construction industry', provides a chronology of events throughout the 1990s and to the present day. The idea behind the paper is to place current industrial relations events in their immediate historical context.

It looks at the effect of various bargaining rounds, types of bargaining - project, pattern and enterprise level - codes of practice, wages campaigns, labour hire, inquiries and pieces of legislation, and union amalgamations.

The paper says nowhere was the Australian Council of Trade Unions' policy of amalgamation more complicated than in construction. 

However, after the deregistration of the Builders Labourers Federation, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union successfully merged several craft-based unions, it says. It became 'a truly industry union' and now 'dominates' building and construction.

The paper also points out that the CFMEU was at first wary of enterprise agreements. It says enterprise bargaining as initially envisaged by federal and state governments was never widely taken up by the CFMEU, which instead turned successfully to industry-level agreements. 

These would continue to be a feature of the industry 'for some time to come', it said, as successive pieces of legislation designed to outlaw protected action in pursuit of such bargaining had failed.

The paper is available on the Commission's website and comments are sought from interested parties by 30 August. 

The Commission returned to Brisbane for hearings this week, after being in Perth in July.

 
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