All around Australia, workers are getting caught up in the law when it comes to their workplace rights and responsibilities. Here’s an update from TWU legal expert Lee Norris

The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) commenced on 2 December 2016, replacing the Fair Work Building and Construction Commission.  The ABCC is established under the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016.

The Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016 (Building Code 2016) is a centerpiece of this attack on workers.

This Code applies to companies who submit an expression of interest or tender for Commonwealth-funded building work from 2 December 2016.

This gives the Code a wide reach.  Already, concrete mixing companies with TWU members are caught up.  Recently, a waste removal company that might tender for the removal of waste from building sites funded by the Commonwealth was also caught up.

There is just no telling where this Code will bob up, spreading its anti-worker tentacles.

One of the ways in which the Code operates to undermine Unions and productivity is that all enterprise agreements made from 2 December 2016 must now comply with the Building Code 2016.  The Commission will vet proposed agreements and the real purpose of the exercise is to knock out provisions that allow Unions and their members to organize.

There is no getting around these requirements with “side agreements”.   Such arrangements are banned by the Code.

So what terrible matters is the Code directed toward remedying?

Well, anything in an agreement that imposes restrictions or prohibitions on employers from managing their businesses and achieving “productivity”.

Anything like a Union having a say in manning levels.

Anything like a Union and its members insisting on full union membership on a building site.

Anything that allows or mandates that Union signs or flags be flown on a building site.

Yes, we can see that Mr. Turnbull and his Liberal Party government have focused on the important things in the construction industry, like Union signs and flags – meanwhile approximately 500 workers have been killed in the construction industry since 2002. That’s 500 families robbed of a loved one.  Kind of makes a preoccupation with Union signs and flags look a bit silly, doesn’t it?

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