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Construction workers join forces to make united stand for safety

29 April, 2009

Nationwide meetings of construction workers have condemned the use of coercive powers by the Australian Building and Construction Commission and will vote on a campaign of industrial action to get rid of the Building and Construction laws.

Dave Noonan, CFMEU Construction Division National Secretary said safety remains the critical issue which needs to be addressed in the construction industry. The ABCC attacks workers' rights and has led to a decline in safety across the industry.

Recently, Justice Wilcox recommended to the Government that the coercive powers of the ABCC remain for five years. The recommendations were firmly rejected by construction unions, who want construction workers to have the same rights as all other workers.

"Each week on an Australian construction sites, statistics show that a worker will die. We cannot let this go on for another week let alone for another five years. Construction workers and unions are making a stand for safety. If that means we have to have stop work meetings for safety or refuse to cooperate with the ABCC, then that's what we'll do," said Noonan.

The coercive powers of the ABCC are unwarranted in Australian industrial law. Construction workers can be fined $22,000 or jailed for up to six months if they refuse to give evidence at an ABCC interrogation.

Shop stewards and delegates from Australia's six construction unions are holding joint delegates meetings in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Sydney. The national action is part of the unions Rights on Site campaign.

The resolutions, to be voted on by delegates from the six unions representing all of Australian construction industry employing nearly 1 million people call for:

The Rudd Government to immediately legislate for the repeal of the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005 and the abolishment of the ABCC,
union officials and construction workers to refuse to cooperate with the ABCC,
stoppages to be held on April 28th to mark International Workers Day of Mourning.

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