Construction unions to face massive fines, compensation payouts

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Construction unions to face massive fines, compensation payouts

Construction unions are facing massive new fines, will be liable for ‘uncapped damages’, and possibly lose their assets for unlawful industrial action – and the penalties will be back-dated.

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Construction unions are facing massive new fines, will be liable for ‘uncapped damages’, and possibly lose their assets for unlawful industrial action – and the penalties will be back-dated. 

Federal legislation proposed

Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews told a Master Builders Association lunch in Brisbane today the Government would introduce urgent legislation to Federal Parliament next week which would: 

  • render unions and those taking industrial action liable to fines of up to $110,000 for a body corporate, or $22,000 in other cases and,
  • allow for orders to pay substantial uncapped compensation to those affected by the unlawful action.

In addition, the Government will: 

  • amend the Workplace Relations Regulations to allow inspectors to initiate prosecutions for industrial action taken prior to the expiry date of an agreement;
  • review the Guidelines which underpin the National Code of Practice for the Construction Industry (the Code) with the intention of further strengthening the Guidelines;
  • consider intervening, on a case by case basis, in order to provide support during periods of unlawful industrial action.

The MBA members were told by Andrews to resist union pressure to break their current agreements. 

He said the Government recognised the industry was being subjected to intense industrial pressure by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) to sign up to new but ‘outdated’ agreements. 

He said these agreements put ‘the vested interests of unions ahead of the future welfare of workers and the industry’. 

‘That is why the Government has taken the initiative to re-introduce the enforcement provisions of the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Bill (BCIIB) into parliament next week, with retrospective effect,’ Andrews said.

‘Now it is up to contractors in the building and construction industry to negotiate modern, flexible and productive agreements with the CFMEU.” 

He said the Howard Government remains ‘absolutely committed to stamping out the lawlessness which continues to hamstring Australia’s $46billion  building and construction industry’. 

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