Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Red New Readers,

The Federal Labor Government needs to take a hard look at NSW and what happens to governments and leaders who breach party policy and ignore their electoral mandate. The Federal Government is fortunate that there is a poor understanding of the role, purpose and modus operandi of the ABCC in the general community. The jailing of Noel Washington for the crime of defending his mates, would rebound not on the previous government, who put these terrbile laws in place, but on the current government for maintaining them.

Jenny Haines

ACTU wants ABCC wound up before 2010

July 15, 2008 - 4:49PM, SMH

The ACTU wants to see the building industry watchdog wound up before the 2010 deadline promised by the federal government.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the widespread powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), including the right to interrogate workers without them having legal representation, denied them basic rights.

She was speaking as Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) official Noel Washington faced a possible six-month jail sentence for refusing to give evidence to the ABCC about what he saw and heard at a meeting of workers last year.

"A union official will be brought before the courts for what crime?" Ms Burrow asked.

"For refusing to dob in his mates when they met on union business outside of work and after hours.

"If Noel Washington is jailed, Australians will be shocked."

Ms Burrow said the ABCC operated under powers handed to it by the former Howard government and the ACTU was determined to see the commission wound up before 2010.

"The government's timeline of 2010 is a problem from our perspective but we're doing what we are best at doing, representing the rights of Australian workers and helping to change (the government's) mind," she told reporters.

Ms Burrow also said the latest Galaxy Research poll showed that workers were losing patience with a push by business lobby groups to retain key aspects of the Howard government's Work Choices legislation.

She said Harvey Norman had taken "shameful advantage" in the transition period of the new industrial relations laws to sign up staff under the old Australian Workplace Agreements (AWA).

"They were offering their staff AWAs as late as a few weeks ago that would rip them off as much as $146 per week - that's not acceptable," Ms Burrow said.

"And there was the terrible decision by Telstra between the government being elected and the implementation of the transition bill that eliminated AWAs, to sign up 21,000 additional people on AWAs on a take-it-or-leave-it basis."

© 2008 AAP