Builders want stronger IR laws to protect $1.7 trillion investment

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Builders want stronger IR laws to protect $1.7 trillion investment

Master Builders Australia (MBA) has called for the strengthening of industrial relations laws to protect $1.7 trillion of investments in the building industry over the next 10 years.

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Master Builders Australia (MBA) has called for the strengthening of industrial relations laws to protect $1.7 trillion of investments in the building industry over the next 10 years.

The call was made at the release of the MBA Workplace Relations Blueprint, which was launched this week.

The MBA Blueprint sets out five objectives and 14 recommendations for the building and construction industry, and includes calls for the retention of AWAs, simplification of awards, strengthening of the right of entry laws and strengthening of the subcontracting system.

Retain ABCC

It also calls for the permanent retention of the Office of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC).

MBA Chief Executive, Wilhelm Harnisch, said the building and construction industry had been significantly transformed by reforms implemented through the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act and the establishment of the ABCC in 2005.

‘There has been a manifest change in workplace culture,’ Harnisch said. ‘Builders have been able to build without the constant distraction of workplace disruption, and working days lost have fallen to historic lows. This had permitted contractors to meet commitments on time, on budget, and in a more harmonious working environment.’

Disruption

Harnisch said the ABCC had been given powers to enforce workplace laws and address the problems that the building and construction industry had encountered through the disruption of time-dependent construction projects by unlawful industrial action.

‘Its retention is, therefore, Master Builders’ number-one priority,’ he said.

Harnisch said MBA’s 10-year forward estimates for the building and construction industry show that, cumulatively, around $1.7 trillion of investment will be undertaken in Australia’s economic and social infrastructure that will add to the nation’s economic capacity building.

This investment would see the construction workforce need to increase by a further 200,000 to around 1.2 million employees in the next decade.

Industrial harmony

‘An investment task of this magnitude, to be fully realised, can only occur in an environment of industrial harmony and rising productivity if we are to avoid cost blow-outs and wages inflation,’ Harnisch said. ‘Master Builders sees a flexible national labour market as absolutely pivotal in delivering such an outcome, as has been the case over the last two years. There can be no turning back.’

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