While the re-election of the Liberal Government in Canberra is a blow to working people across Australia, our job remains the same regardless of who is in charge in Canberra.
The CFMEU is there to ensure our members receive a fair wage and come home safely every day to their families and friends.
In the wake of the election Morrison has shown the Liberals’ attacks on the union movement, and the CFMEU in particular, will continue. Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter is determined to de-register our union and is pushing crossbenchers to support the Government’s Ensuring Integrity Bill. This Bill has been found by the UK-based International Centre for Trade Union Rights to breach two international conventions, to which Australia is a signatory. The centre says they could find no equivalent for the extreme measures in any industrial democracy and the laws are akin to those enacted in authoritarian regimes.
The Morrison Government is desperate to undermine the CFMEU because it knows we are leaders within the labour movement in securing better conditions and wages. We are also a voice for the marginalised in our communities and are actively supporting the campaign by Australia’s First People for a Voice in Parliament; exposing sham contracting; and supporting victims of gender-based violence. The NSW Branch is in a great position to support these campaigns and take on the Morrison Government. In the past months we have employed new Organisers and over the past year our delegate structure has grown from strength to strength.
The spate of accidents and the tragic death of Christopher Cassaniti are stark reminders of the importance of a strong union to defend conservative attempts to wind back safety regulations. While the Australian Building and Construction Commission is quick to fine the CFMEU, it is no where to be seen when an 18-year-old is killed at work.
The death on August 21 of Mohamed Riche at a non-union western Sydney site is another appalling tragedy that shouldn’t have occured. Mohamed leaves behind a wife and three children under 4, the youngest just four months. Mohamed fell five floors on a site that was a death trap. Of course the ABCC is no where to be found. The waste of life angers me and makes it imperative that we have industrial manslaughter laws so that bosses who take shortcuts with safety are jailed when a worker dies as a result. As if his death is not enough to deal with, the union has not been able to find any proof of superannuation payments for Mohamed for the past 16 months and changes in super laws mean his family will not receive a death benefit payment. This is further proof of the anti-worker mentality of this Government.
ABCC officials will feel empowered by the election and builders will feel they can put safety on the back burner. It is a core mission of the CFMEU to ensure our members return home from work every day uninjured. With the re-election of the Morrison Government, you will be called upon to play a role in defending safety. It is more important than ever that building workers stand up and speak out when they feel a work site is unsafe.