By Kim Linden
MELBOURNE — Some 7000 building workers took to the streets here on July 10 as part of a statewide strike in protest against the federal government's proposal to tax travel allowances.
The workers were mainly from the construction division of the CFMEU, the Australian Workers Union, the Electrical Trades Union and the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union.
The rally marched through the city, blocking the intersection of Swanston and Flinders Streets with the help of construction workers' vehicles, cranes, trucks and other heavy machinery, and then proceeded to Parliament House.
Martin Kingham, secretary of the CFMEU Construction and General Divisions, spoke of the victory for workers when the Australian Taxation Office backed down from retrospectively taxing travel allowances.
Kingham pointed out that it was workers' militant action, including a rally of 8000 building workers on May 29 and a 24-hour stoppage on June 12, which forced the back-down. But, he said, "the job is only half done" because the new tax on travel allowances will come into force on July 1.
The workers voted to continue the fight against the tax and resolved to place bans on building sites where employers would not compensate pay lost through the tax.