Gillard pledges to keep ABCC

Building unions, legal representatives and building workers met with ALP parliamentarians in Canberra on August 25 to lobby for the abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

The ABCC has unprecedented legal powers and was set up under the previous Howard government to destroy the militant building industry unions.

Five building industry unions initiated a public campaign in May to abolish the ABCC and have so far committed $3 million dollars to the campaign.

TV advertising and community education is to be complemented with a political and industrial campaign, focusing on lobbying ALP MPs but also holding mass protests and workplace meetings to pass resolutions against the ABCC.

Building unions will be holding a solidarity protest outside the Geelong Magistrates Court when Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union official Noel Washington appears on September 12, charged with refusing to comply with the ABCC.

Washington could face six months' jail for refusing to be interrogated by the ABCC about a union meeting off-site and out of work hours. National protests and mass rallies for Geelong and Melbourne are also planned for the day Washington has to go to trial, which is presumed to be later in the year.

Federal workplace relations minister Julia Gillard emphasised on August 25 that the ALP government will hold to its election promise and keep the ABCC with all its powers intact until 2010.

She also said that the government was committed to setting up a specific inspectorate for the building and construction industry and one for the hospitality industry after 2010 as part of its new industrial relations regime "Forward with Fairness".

The August 29 Sydney Morning Herald reported that this week Victorian senator Gavin Marshall will table a motion in caucus that calls for the government to curtail the ABCC's powers until at least 2010.

On August 28, Greens Senator Rachel Siewart tabled a motion to repeal the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005 and abolish the ABCC.

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