The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) welcomed the resignation on September 13 of the head of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) Nigel Hadgkiss.
The union had called for his resignation after it succeeded in having Hadgkiss confess in the Federal Court to a reckless breach of the industrial laws he oversees.
Hadgkiss admitted to a contravention of s503 of the Fair Work Act in relation to the ABCC's publication of incorrect information about union right of entry rules.
“Nigel Hadgkiss is anti-worker, and his departure will be welcomed by our members,” the union said. :However, the real villain here is the [Malcolm] Turnbull government’s ABCC laws, which remain in place.
“These laws strip away basic protections from construction workers and are only there for the benefit of big builders and property developers. Since the laws were in place, safety on construction sites has worsened.”
There is a provision under the current union right of entry rules that lunch rooms are to be the default location for union officials to conduct meetings with workers, should the employer and union official not agree to a suitable location.
The laws are important as workers could be intimidated by being forced to hold discussions with their union representatives in clear view of their employer.
The current law has been in place since January 2014.
While the ABCC had ensured the correct legal position was known internally to its own staff, it disseminated incorrect information to the public and across the industry, with multiple ABCC publications on right of entry laws incorrectly asserting that union officials had to comply with the employer's wishes on the location of meetings.
Hadgkiss has long been an attack dog for the Coalition and the building employers against the union movement. He previously headed up the Building Industry Taskforce, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in New South Wales, and the Construction Code Compliance Office in Victoria.
The hypocrisy of the government on industrial relations knows no bounds. It has confirmed it will pay Hadgkiss’s legal fees, including possible civil penalties, yet has successfully opposed moves by the CFMEU to pay the legal costs of its officials dragged before the courts by the ABCC.