The dispute between Grocon and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) in Melbourne is clear evidence that industrial relations law is failing, according to Wilhelm Harnisch, the Master Builders Australia chief executive.
“The bullying tactics displayed by the CFMEU vindicates the building industry’s call for the return of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and dedicated industry-specific laws which target unlawful and intimidatory conduct,” he says.
“Currently, the Fair Work Building and Construction agency has not been able to intervene because it possesses severely weakened powers.
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“The regulator should not be stopped from acting where an employer has already initiated proceedings, a constraint which dogs the current agency,” Harnisch says.
The Myer Lonsdale Street construction site dispute is against the backdrop of significant changes in building industry regulations, both in Victoria and nationwide as the Gillard government softened the tougher Howard government laws that building workers had faced since 2005, while the Baillieu government has introduced rules modelled on the Howard regime.
Daniel Grollo, the Grocon chief, is in Sydney today, with suggestions rife the conflict might escalate up the east coast.
In July the MBA noted research that Australia had been better off by $6.3 billion each year given the industrial relations reforms that were in place since October 2005 until June this year.
“Although there are weaker laws in place, they should be enforced,” Mr Harnisch said.
This article first appeared on Property Observer.