define('DISABLE_WP_CRON', true); Turnbull lies again on the ABCC | Chris White Online

Turnbull lies again on the ABCC

Update: With TurnbullPM returned, the Parliament is being urged by the corporates to pass the Stasi ABCC Bill. This is again a main priority for union activists to lobby Senators. Listen to my report on Radio 3CR

Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC

Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC

Earlier: PM Turnbull wants the vote of the return of the ABCC as the trigger for his double dissolution election. Update April 19: Turnbull’s anti-worker ABCC has been voted down (again) 36-34! Thanks to all the Senators who put jobs, workers lives and safety ahead of ugly Liberal politics! Election to be called. 1. I post videos and comments, 2. Then, Professor David Peetz and hs analysis on the ABCC, 3. Tom McDonald and Rita Mallia State President NSW CFMEU and links to past posts on this blog.
The Law Council of Australia have agreed with unions: If Malcolm Turnbull gets his way, workers in Australia will have less legal rights than murderers and ice-dealers.
WATCH union 30-second TV commercial before it goes to air tonight:

Malcolm Turnbull is creating a law that prevents working people from talking to a lawyer. A LAWYER!!!Would this ever happen to a CEO??
I add pro-union points here on FB a cartoon that explains the ABCC

Abbott/Turnbull’s new ABCC applies as well to the AMWU, ETU, MUA, AWU and clearly the corporates desire to apply this repression to all unions.

Some say these powers are neo-fascist and that is fair comment. In my writings, I prefer a more accurate model,that the ABCC is based on the STASI, the East German Stalinist police that features the “dobbing in and betrayal” of others, here coercing building workers to tell on any militant union official doing their job, now deemed “unlawful.”
Past posts on the ABCC as a STASI model of repression against legitimate union organising and striking

Video by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam:

2. As at all times before, Turnbull promotes lies, here that the ABCC is more productive. Professor David Peetz rejects this. His arguments can be reproduced in workplaces.
Sorry, Mal, here’s proof the ABCC was not good for productivity DAVID PEETZ | APR 12, 2016 reproduced from Crikey.

Malcolm Turnbull has got it all wrong on the construction industry, writes David Peetz, professor of employment relations at Griffith University.

On 7.30 recently the Prime Minister dismissed the Productivity Commission’s findings on productivity growth in the construction industry in favour of those from a small consultancy firm. He used the small firm’s findings to support a claim that the Howard government’s legislative reforms in that industry had led to a 20% increase in construction productivity, which had “flat-lined“ under Labor.

Actually, though, things were a bit different. To see how we know the industry didn’t flat-line, and why Turnbull said it had, we look at:

What it’s all about (i.e. what reforms are we measuring?);
What the official data show about productivity in that industry;
Why the Productivity Commission and a consultancy firm differed on the issue; and
Why the Prime Minister preferenced the consultant’s version of events.

1. What reforms are we measuring?

The debate is all about special laws on industrial relations in the construction sector. In 2005 the Howard government passed laws creating the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). The legislation provided for six months’ jail for anyone refusing to co-operate with ABCC inquiries, or speaking about such inquiries to anyone, and increased penalties for other breaches of industrial law. This didn’t just apply to construction workers; a passer-by (an academic, in fact) on a street near a building site was interrogated for hours and threatened with jail if he spoke about his interrogation.

But even more important than the legislation itself was how it was administered.
In September 2010 the term of the Howard government’s appointee to the top job, John Lloyd, expired, and he was replaced by a Gillard appointee, Leigh Johns. Gillard had already imposed some restrictions on Lloyd’s activities in 2009. During most of Lloyd’s term, the coercive powers mentioned above were extensively used. But Johns adopted a very different approach; he was much less antagonistic to unions. The use of compulsory interrogations dropped by 90% in 2010. Lloyd criticised Johns for pursuing sham contracting by companies — he labelled it a “trendy” issue  —  at the expense of prosecuting unprotected strikers.

In June 2012 the legislation establishing the ABCC was repealed and new legislation, retaining some coercive powers but with more safeguards, took its place. The ABCC was replaced by the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate (which goes by the acronym FWBC). Johns moved across to head that body. As the ABCC under Johns had not been using its full powers, not so much changed with the new legislation in place.

In October 2013, after the election of the Abbott government, then-minister for employment Eric Abetz put Nigel Hadgkiss into the top position, replacing Leigh Johns, who had resigned. Hadgkiss was Lloyd’s deputy in the Howard years.

Hadgkiss accused Johns of having struck “deals“ with the construction union. Hadgkiss was described as “tough” and the “right man to restore rule of law in construction“ by mining employers and as a “well-known union basher“ by former union official Brian Boyd.

2. What do the official data show about productivity in that industry?

The chart below shows labour productivity from 2005 onwards, in the construction industry and nationally, according to the ABS National Accounts.

What is immediately apparent is how labour productivity in construction moved in tandem with national level productivity until 2011. There is no discernible effect from the ABCC legislation and the Lloyd years.


Then, in 2012 and 2013, there were large improvements in construction productivity that were not matched by the rest of the economy. Yet these were years when Labor’s appointee, Johns, was in charge of the ABCC and the FWBC, and coercive powers were rarely used.

Through 2014 and 2015 productivity growth in construction wound back (it “flat-lined”) while other industries started to catch up. This was the period when the “right person” (or the “union basher”) Hadgkiss was back in charge of FWBC. Hadgkiss’ years corresponded to the poorest two years of construction productivity growth since 2005.

The second chart makes this pattern slightly clearer. It shows the average annual growth rates over the three periods.


Across the economy as a whole, the average annual growth rate did not vary much between these periods. But productivity in construction did: in the Lloyd/ABCC period, at 1.6% per annum, fairly similar to growth in the economy as a whole; in the Johns period, at 5.1% per annum, or well above national growth; and in the Hadgkiss period, at -0.5% per year, it was well below it. (If you want to split the Johns period into the ABCC and FWBC sub-periods, the numbers were 5.7% and 3.9% respectively, both well above the rates achieved under the more aggressive regimes.)

In short, the evidence suggested that productivity in construction was best when coercive approaches were not followed.

3. Why did the Productivity Commission and a consultancy firm differ on the issue?

The consultancy firm the Prime Minister referred to — originally called Econtech, then KPMG Econtech, then Independent Economics — had been commissioned by the ABCC, and later by a construction employer body, to try to prove a point (that the ABCC had done a great job). It published and republished largely similar reports, mostly updates using the same assumptions as the previous version.

At the core of the original Econtech analysis was a spreadsheet error, which some colleagues and I identified. Econtech eventually admitted this, but never changed the estimated productivity gains it claimed arose from the ABCC. Instead it made selective (and contradictory) use of start and end dates and questionable techniques to try to maintain the original finding.

The Productivity Commission obtained the original data we and Econtech had used, and found no error in our analysis. It concluded that “it cannot be maintained that the data show — even in an indicative sense — that aggregate productivity improved because of the BIT/ABCC” (see page 786).


3. The Real Role of the ABCC

The facts show that the objective of the ABCC is to destroy the power of the trade union movement in the building and construction industry. It is not an anti-corruption body.

The vast majority of the allegations against the trade union movement made during the Royal Commission into trade unions have been abandoned because they have no substance.

The remaining allegations are overwhelmingly about the tactics used by workers and their unions during industrial disputes between the employer and the employees – only a few are about corruption, none of which have been proven by a court of law.

The corruption within in the leaders of the Health Services Union was exposed by activists in the union prior to the existence of the Royal Commission or the ABCC. Those officials were expelled and it was the union that pursued these people through our courts of law to recover workers money and to jail those found guilty.
Five charges involving the CFMEU have all failed in the courts.

The allegations are about issues such as safety, underpayment of wages and conditions, right of entry, picketing union sites when the workers are on strike, threatening or swearing at employers during heated debates, demanding equal treatment for all workers on a building site etc.

To prove my point about the Turnbull Government’s real agenda, we only have to look at the new code of practice which the ABCC will enforce.

There are 17 important issues, around which unions have been able to negotiate in the past, they will not be able to negotiate in the future.

The Code provides that if an employer agrees to and implements any of these issues on any of their projects they will be not be eligible to tender for government projects.

What the code outlaws:

The right to set maximum hours – if unions can’t prevent unlimited hours being worked fatigue will lead to accidents and ultimately deaths.

The right to apprentice quotas – if unions can’t bargain to make agreements with employers to take on apprentices we will not have jobs for our young people and the skills to compete in the global economy.

Agreed stable and safe shift rosters and RDO’s – if workers can’t have RDOs and stable rosters many children will miss out on spending time with their parents.

The right to set limits on labour hire and casual jobs helps to ensure less insecure work and more stability.

Civil Liberties – building workers face up to six months in jail if they seek to exercise their right to silence. Even a murderer gets to exercise the right to silence.

The ABCC can decide that workplace meetings, even one about safety, are illegal and workers participating can be fined $30,00 for participating and unions $180,000 which is almost as much as bosses responsible for workers being killed on site get fined.

Workers and their unions should be able to negotiate agreements with employers that affect their jobs, their future, their family and their well-being.
We don’t want governments which seek to act like dictators.

The ABCC role violates UN Declaration of Human Rights that workers have trade union rights and protection.
Don’t let the ABCC become a precedent that will affect, over time, all Australian workers.

Tom McDonald Former Vice President ACTU
18 April 2016

Background material about the Turnbull Governments’ plan to re-introduce the ABCC

As you would be aware, Malcolm Turnbull has recalled federal parliament today, 18 April, to attempt to re-introduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission. He is blackmailing the Independents in the Senate to pass the ABCC Bill or face a double dissolution election in which they would lose their seats.

The ABCC was originally introduced by the Howard Government in 2005. The ABCC discriminates against workers in the construction industry by applying a different and harsher set of laws to workers and their unions not applied to any other industry or the population at large.

The current version of the ABCC bills increases penalties for workers and unions, widens its reach and seeks to implement a Building Code which would take away rights other workers have to negotiate certain items in bargaining agreements with their employer.

Some 1 million workers would be affected because the new version of the Bill will extend the ABCC’s reach to all workers that supply, transport or prefabricate manufactured goods, including any ship that is travelling to and from an Australian port.

Under the proposed ABCC legislation:

• Workers would not have the right to silence, a right even afforded to criminals such as ice dealers

• They would face penalties of up to 6 months jail if they refused to answer questions about something as simple as a union meeting

• Workers would not be able to have a lawyer of their choosing

• EBAs containing clauses which provide for the employment of apprentices or older Australians and set maximum hours of work would be illegal

Attached is a briefing note which goes into further detail.
Here is a link to a video we have produced which explains what the ABCC is and what it does

Rita Mallia
State President


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