Grocon agrees to talks
Negotiations to take place over issues in dispute
This dispute is not yet over, but corporate Grocon and owner Grollo has agreed to return to talks under the conditions of a settlement reached with with Fair Work Australia last Thursday evening.(See earlier post on Grocon)
CFMEU Construction Division National Secretary, Dave Noonan said the parties have committed to discussions to resolve issues of health and safety.
“Our members have protested peacefully to have the right to healthy and safe workplaces, and be represented by their union.
“Grocon has agreed to discussions on these important issues.
“We look forward to productive and good faith talks with Grocon,” said Mr Noonan.
After the agreement by the company to return to talks, Daniel Grollo went to the media claiming that the blockade was ended ‘unconditionally’.
CFMEU Victorian Secretary Bill Oliver said this was untrue and a signed agreement between the company and the union lists a number of conditions.
“It’s disappointing that Daniel Grollo continues to misrepresent the facts. Our focus is to resolve this dispute and to ensure that the safety of the CFMEU members on Grocon sites is assured.
“We enter these talks seriously and with the intention of coming to a resolution.
“We do not compromise on safety. The health and well being of building workers has been the driving point of our protest.
“As always we will do everything we can to resolve the issue in the interests of our members.”
Grocon is trying to smash workers rights
• The right to have real safety and union reps
• The right to wear union stickers and clothing
• The right to talk to your union organiser without interference
• The right to put up a union poster in the lunch shed
Grocon attempts to enforce its rules using standover men.
If Grocon gets away with its bullying and intimidation, workers on their sites will be under the thumb and be driven like slaves. Other builders will try to follow suit.
Download pamphlet on this dispute and distribute.
Unbelievably Mr Grollo kept repeating on ABC radio his lie that he did not understand what the dispute was about! he says he is acting within the law, but the CFMEU is not. But the problem has been that under Howard/Abbott’s Building and construction laws, wearing a union logo on a construction hat was deemed ‘unlawful”; as was a union poster; or flying the Eureka flag; – a vicious anti-union stance that Building corporates wanted and then when the CFMEU members wore a union badge or put up a poster, then the company could arrange for the union to be charged as undertaking “unlawful” activity and fined! And this has been happening for years on building sites. the same happens with safety – all evidence is that CFMEU union action makes a worksite safe, yet Grollo wants to deny this. The company is denying basic human rights, breaching international labour standards, and denying practical industrial relations good sense. But with the right-wing capitalist media, with the right-wing Premier using the police and the Supreme Court judges implementing “the law”, this struggle is central for workers’ rights.
Although a number of Victorian unions have their members involved in solidarity struggle with the Vic CFMEU, unless the union movement generally can educate members and organise similar solidarity actions – in defiance of the “law” that bans such solidarity – then workers’ rights will not be advanced.
Grocon concedes to negotiations with building union
Saturday, September 8, 2012
By Sue Bolton, Melbourne
The Grocon dispute with the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) at the Myer Emporium site in Melbourne’s CBD ended on September 6 so that talks could resume in the coming week.
Grocon owner Daniel Grollo approached the CFMEU about lifting the protests outside Myer and five other Grocon sites so there could be a return to talks under the conditions of a settlement reached with Fair Work Australia.
Since police first attacked the protest on August 28, there have been daily mobilisations of 600 to 3000 building workers at the site each morning.
However, Grollo’s boast to the media on September 7 that the CFMEU had “unconditionally ended” its protests outside Grocon sites has now led to disagreement about the Fair Work Australia agreement.
CFMEU Victorian secretary Bill Oliver said Grollo’s comments were not true. He said the signed agreement betweeen the union and Grocon included several conditions.
“It’s disappointing that Daniel Grollo continues to misrepresent the facts,” Oliver said. “Our focus is to resolve this dispute and to ensure that the safety of the CFMEU members on Grocon sites is assured.”
Oliver told the ABC: “There is nothing in this agreement that says should the talks break down next week, that we can’t activate that peaceful campaign again.
“Daniel [Grollo] has tried to make out that we have disbanded this morning and that’s the end of it, never to return. That is not what the agreement says.”
The CFMEU had called on Grollo to return to the negotiating table for more than a week after it lifted any form of blockade or picket in line with a Fair Work Australia recommendation on August 31. However, every morning when unionists returned to peacefully protest they were greeted with hundreds of riot and mounted police.
Media reports said that Victorian taxpayers will foot a bill of about $4 million for the Baillieu government’s decision to send huge numbers of police. Grollo claims that he has lost between $5 million and $7 million due to the dispute. The state government and Grocon will continue to pursue costs against the union in the Victorian Supreme Court.
However, insiders say what really brought Grollo to the negotiating table were the protests outside the other five Grocon sites. From September 4, union members had been turning up to protest outside these sites. When the workers at these sites arrived for work, they would then refuse to enter and all work was suspended for the day. It is believed that Grocon’s financial backers could not continue to sustain such losses.
The dispute has been so bitter because fundamental issues about how construction unions organise have been at stake. Union members consider their right to nominate and elect union shop stewards and health and safety representatives is necessary to keep workers safe on the job. Grocon wants to nominate its own people, as it knows its nominees are less likely to disrupt work on safety grounds.
During the week, Grollo also boasted about a national safety award he had received. Yet any casual observer of the Myer Emporium site can look through the gate and see basic hazards such as five metre drops without fall protection, missing handrails and steel spikes without protective caps.
It seems that even the policewomen sent to occupy the site found it hard to find female toilets — something listed as a fundamental requirement in the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.
The dispute has shown that CFMEU members and the members of other unions in the construction industry are very clear about what is at stake. They have been prepared to turn out in their hundreds, and indeed thousands, when they thought the CFMEU was under attack.
This is why the CFMEU leadership has been so confident about maintaining the daily protests and continuing the actions indefinitely if necessary.”
Download these CFMEU images in the struggle against the draconian ABCC
My first Grocon report here
CFMEU Here to Stay by Socialist Alterative
Dave Oliver ACTU on TV on this dispute
For those who do not know the history put in ABCC into this Search
engine. E.g. in 2005 my Senate submission
2008 Rudd keeps the Secret Inqusition against workers
Professor George Williams criticises the ABCC
2012 ABCC goes in name, but powers remain