Change is not likely on sites

WITH the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry concluding its hearings in WA, some builders are questioning whether anything will actually change.

During its several weeks of Perth hearings the commission uncovered a raft of questionable practices involving both the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union and builders.

The one thing welcomed by most builders seeking industrial relations change is the creation of a task force to focus on building industry lawlessness. That task force was created after a recommendation from commissioner Terrence Cole earlier this year.

Hanssen principal Gerry Hansen said unless builders stood up for themselves the commission would have been for naught.

“The royal commission can’t achieve anything if people continue to flout the law and I believe people will still continue to do deals with the unions,” he said.

“However the commission has given some builders the courage to stand up to the unions.

“The task force will help those builders that stand up.”

Doric group director Charles Neophytou said the task force was welcomed but branded the royal commission a non-event.

“I don’t think the commission even touched on some of the corrupt practices that occur in the building industry,” he said.

“I certainly don’t think there were any surprises in what they did uncover.”

Dr Neophytou said Doric had cooperated with what he termed an “overly bureaucratic” royal com-mission, and that cooperation had cost it a lot of money.

Sizer general manager Daren Deen, however, was not overly impressed by the new task force.

“It is already being thought of as a toothless tiger. It has no enforcement or arrest powers,” he said.

“If that task force is anything to go by then the Royal Commission has been a waste.

“I think it [the Royal Commission] only touched the tip of the iceberg here. The dollar figures they’re talking about are only a small percentage of the amount of money that’s changing hands.”

Mr Deen’s company has been the subject of strikes due to its move to install video cameras on its West Perth site to film any inappropriate conduct by union organisers.

BGC Construction general man-ager Gerry Forde said the Royal Commission had made the public aware of the level of intimidation that occurred on WA building sites.

“Just in that regard it has done a good job,” he said.

“Hopefully it will give the Government the courage to do something about it.”

Master Builders Association director Michael McLean said the commission had not been able to go as far as it would have liked due to time constraints imposed upon it.

“I think the commission missed out on a lot of little things but what they found will enable them to see that major reforms are needed in WA,” he said.

“I think anyone that felt the industry could continue on the way it has been going will be disappointed.”

Commissioner Cole is expected to submit his final report to the Federal Government in December.

Allegations of subcontractors being bullied into joining the CFMEU, builders using market power to force contractors into Enterprise Bar-gaining Agreements, the use of outlaw motorcycle gangs as union enforcers and even stories of workers being locked in sea containers were all investigated by the com-mission.

Serious problems regarding the use of a labour hire firm linked to the CFMEU and other industrial relations problems dogging the construction of the Woodside building were brought to light.

CFMEU secretary Kevin Reynolds gave evidence during the commission’s final visit to Perth and was even challenged over his involvement in the Coolbellup Tavern with Multiplex director Derek Robson.

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