D-Day for Ark and the ABCC

November 20, 2010
Ark Tribe. Photo: Rightsonsite.org.au

Ark Tribe’s battle with the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) may end on November 24, at the Adelaide Magistrates Court when Tribe's verdict is scheduled to be announced.

This would end the two-year ordeal for Tribe and his family.

The 47-year-old rigger is facing six months’ jail for not attending an ABCC interrogation over an “unauthorised” safety meeting on a building site at Flinders University in August 2008.

Martin O’Malley, South Australian secretary of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU), spoke to Green Left Weekly on November 19.

“If Ark goes to jail, building sites across Australia will close down, don’t worry about that. The fight will continue no matter what the verdict is”, O’Malley said.

“The whole act has to go. The Gillard government has kept the worst aspects of Work Choices in the Fair Work Australia Act, and the ABCC underscores this.”

The CFMEU will organise an “Ark Tribe Embassy” in Victoria Square from 8.30am on November 24 and other unions and activist groups are organising solidarity rallies across Australia.

Former PM John Howard’s Coalition government created the ABCC in 2005 to crush the industrial muscle of the building unions by criminalising basic trade union activity.

The ABCC says it is neutral, but most investigations have targeted unions and workers, not bosses that breach health and safety regulations or workplace agreements.

Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Jeff Lawrence said the powers of the ABCC serve no purpose in a democratic society.

“Construction workers should be able to go to work each day like everyone else without fear that they could be jailed simply for exercising their civil rights as union members”, he told the October 30 Australian.

The International Labour Organisation condemned the ABCC on March 10, saying its activities were in breach of international labour standards.

On June 15, Tribe’s defence team, led by Michael Abbott QC, argued the prosecution is a “nullity, because the initial coercive notice sent to Tribe was not made by ABCC Commissioner John Lloyd, or someone delegated by the commissioner”.

[Visit Rightsonsite.org.au for more information.]

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