EBA concerns for builders

FEARS are building within the construction sector that only builders with Enterprise Bargaining Agreements will win WA Government contracts.

The WA Government introduced a new building industry code of conduct in January that is designed to promote best practice in a number of areas, including industrial relations, business practice, and security of payments.

It is understood the Department of Housing and Works will use these as criteria for assessing tenders and any company not meeting standards attached to those criteria will not be able to tender for government work.

Builders argue that best practice in industrial relations will eventually mean requiring an EBA with a union.

The Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry has been told the Queensland Government has a similar code of conduct and there have been moves to require EBAs on all Government sites.

Master Builders Association of WA industrial relations manager Kim Richardson said there was a risk the “good industrial relations practices” part of the code would be used by the CFMEU to force the Government to take on only builders with registered EBAs.

“The risk is these criteria could go beyond application to Housing and Works contracts. They could also be applied to agencies such as Westrail, Western Power and the Water Corporation which all have big construction projects,” Mr Richardson said.

Norm Marlborough, Parliamentary Secretary to Consumer and Employment Protection Minister John Kobelke, oversaw the creation of the new code and several builders have alleged that he is leading the push for EBAs to become the norm for government contracts.

Mr Marlborough is a close associate of CFMEU state secretary Kevin Reynolds and was a member of the Builders and Labourers Federation.

He vehemently denies any allegations that the Government is moving to make EBAs the benchmark for best practice in the building industry or within the Code.

“There is no specific mention in the code of that sort of instrument at all,” Mr Marlborough said.

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