Construction strike warrants CFMEU prosecution

Chamber of Commerce and Industry

THE Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union cannot be allowed to get away with the damaging construction industry strike that was a contrived stunt and totally in breach of the law.

The Gallop Government has an obligation to the law-abiding community of the State to investigate the strike and to prosecute accordingly to uphold the integrity of industrial relations laws in WA.

It is not an occasion for pleas by the Minister for more responsible behaviour. It was a clear-cut case of a renegade union attempting to set itself above the law and it would be intolerable for the Government to turn a blind eye.

The stoppage across multiple sites will be costly and disruptive to the sector and to many workers who might have preferred to work but have now lost a day’s pay.

On coming to office the Government promised to act wherever necessary to protect both employees and employers through the new Building Industry and Special Projects Inspectorate that it said would have a high profile in monitoring compliance with labour relations laws.

The orchestrated walk-off was in breach of registered industrial agreements and had no legitimacy whatsoever.

The Government has to act or else stand condemned of having one rule for employers and another for unions.

Whatever issues the CFMEU has with the Government over workplace safety it should not be allowed to break the law to make a point.

There are plenty of ways for the union to convey a view about safety to the Government without shutting down building sites across the State.

Consumer and Employment Protection Minister John Kobelke is correct in saying workplace safety would not be helped by today’s industrial action.

Hopefully, the Minister recognises it as more than just a publicity-oriented union stunt. It was a blatant and serious breach of industrial relations law requiring a response in the form of assertive action rather than just words.

–        Bruce Williams

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