The New South Wales offices of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) construction division, was firebombed on Thursday May 13.
“It is a miracle no one was killed or injured”, Howard Byrnes, CFMEU state councillor and delegate at Botany Cranes, told Green Left Weekly.
"The attack took place shortly after people had left the CFMEU NSW offices in Lidcombe, after taking part in a Maori language class that finished at 10.20pm”, Byrnes said. “A stolen car was rammed through the steel fence in front of the union offices, through the front door into the foyer. The car was doused with fuel and set alight. All this was caught on CCTV.
“The car had been stolen two days before and was loaded up with eight 20-litre drums of petrol. So this was a definitely a premeditated attack.
"Fortunately, the sprinkler system kicked in straight away and the fire station is just two blocks away. The fire brigade was promptly on the scene and put out the fire before the drums of petrol in the car could ignite.
"If the drums of fuel had exploded there would have been serious structural damage and anyone in the building could have been killed. The firefighters were unaware of the petrol drums in the car and could have been blown up while fighting the fire."
While damage was estimated at about $500,000, and the offices had to close on the day after the attack, they were fully operational by the following Monday.
Police are investigating the matter but the union believes the attack could be linked to a wages dispute involving a contractor's treatment of migrant workers. The CFMEU has recently received phone calls threatening to "destroy the union". CFMEU officials have been abused, threatened and assaulted at a number of worksites.
CFMEU state secretary Andrew Ferguson told a delegates’ meeting on May 21: “We will not be intimidated by violence. It only increases our determination to fight for the rights of workers.”
The meeting passed a resolution condemning this violent attack on the union's offices, adding it was "an attack on all workers".
The CFMEU was disappointed that the state and federal Labor governments were slow to condemn the violent attack on its offices and that the corporate media gave it so little attention.