02/03/2006 - 11:21

Premier warns of "cataclysmic" consequences for rail strikers

02/03/2006 - 11:21

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Premier Alan Carpenter has warned striking workers on the southern suburbs rail project to go back to work or else face "cataclysmic" consequences.

Premier Alan Carpenter has warned striking workers on the southern suburbs rail project to go back to work or else face "cataclysmic" consequences.

His comments followed the workers' decision to extend their strike action, triggered by an unfair dismissal dispute.

"It's very, very disappointing, they should go back to work.

"This whole scenario could be headed towards a cataclysmic conclusion which will not be in the best interests of the workforce on that site.

"Their union leadership must make them realize what they could be headed for.

"Nobody, least of all me, wants to see ordinary working people dragged before the courts in civil actions and potentially lose their assets."

Mr Carpenter said the state government could do little to resolve the issue.

"I cannot force them to go back to work but they must.

"If they refuse to go back to work, we the state government can't stop what might be coming towards them.

"They must understand that, and time is running out."

Meanwhile, the chamber of commerce and industry has called on the Australian Building and Construction Commission and contractor Leighton Kumagai to pursue legal action against the CFMEU and the striking workers to the "bitter end".

CCI director Bruce Williams said the slow process of the court system meant it would be "many months" before any legal action was resolved.

However, he believed this was the only way of changing behaviour in the construction sector.

"The only answer is to pursue claims that are already on foot," Mr Williams said.

"They must be pursued until the bitter end, until the union understands that the cost does not justify this type of action."

He said the legal process could not physically force workers to resume work, but it did provide for penalties to be imposed and to recoup damages.

"There will never be a quick fix to this until we get into a cycle where the union and the workers understand that legal action can be used to impose penalties."

Mr Williams said the state government could join the legal action as an affected third party, given the disruption and costs flowing from the industrial action.

 

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